OTTUMWA — If you attended Ottumwa High School or have a relative who did, you can be part of a new exhibit at the Wapello County Historical Museum.
Local artist Josh De Leon has been tasked with creating an Ottumwa Bulldog-themed mural for one wall of the museum. The center portion of De Leon's mural is the timeline of a young bulldog reading the Argus yearbook. In his mind, he watches all of the older bulldogs as they accomplish great things during high school, culminating at graduation.
"It has to connect the very first class at the high school to where we are now, and that process takes a very long time. I have to take into consideration the accomplishments that have been made all throughout the high school and ... not just make it about one thing. That has been very difficult," he explained. "What makes an artist a true artist is when he doesn't have to explain his artwork. I think it should be something that people will connect with as soon as they see it."
But that center section will only take up about a third of the wall. The other two sides will have a very special, very personal touch. De Leon and the museum are asking anyone in the community who has photographs of themselves or their family members who attended the high school. They will be collaged together into two special memory boards that will be placed on either side of De Leon's painting.
"When children come in, they see old stuff. They don't connect with it," said Dee Hall of the Wapello County Historical Museum Board. "There was nothing about OHS on that wall, and we thought we could do something different with it. School kids can come through, and they'll recognize it as their future school. For older people, it will bring back some good memories."