By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — Community art programs are not only a great way to beautify a city like Ottumwa, but they also serve as a way to unite residents behind a symbol of the city.
In Louisville, Kentucky, several of the local businesses and organizations have participated in the Gallopalooza civic pride initiative. Each of the groups sponsors a horse statue, which is then painted by local artists and displayed in front of the business or organization.
The horses have helped to showcase local artists and businesses, and have generated a sort of civic pride among the Louisville residents.
According to Main Street Ottumwa Executive Director Bob Untiedt, Main Street Ottumwa started meeting with the Ottumwa High School Make Ottumwa Beautiful (MOB) program in September about finding a way to help beautify the city.
He said the students involved with MOB wanted to do some sort of community art campaign, and they quickly realized they should do something like Gallopalooza in Ottumwa. Instead of using horses, though, they decided to use bulldogs, since that is the OHS mascot.
“We said it could be any kind of art,” Untiedt said. “We settled on doing statues, like what other communities have done, that are related to the school mascot.”
After they got an idea of what to do, they started reaching out to local businesses and making plans for how to make the bulldogs unique. Untiedt said they approached the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation about funding the project, and were able to get a partnership with artists at Indian Hills Community College to paint the bulldogs.
To begin the project, they were able to get eight bulldogs, which stand 2.5 feet tall and 4 feet long. All of those were then purchased by businesses around Ottumwa for $750 apiece, and the artists will spend some time with each business while they decide how to paint the bulldogs.
Untiedt said those will hopefully not be the only bulldogs they will be selling. Their plan is to present something to the Ottumwa City Council at one of the upcoming meetings about purchasing one of the dogs for Central Park, and in the future they hope to make an announcement about selling more bulldogs to interested businesses and organizations.
He also said they are looking for more volunteers to help paint the bulldogs.
“We could definitely use a few more,” he said.
— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh