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Art Gathering: “Public Art For Rural Communities”

Posted September 24, 2012 in Community Web Exclusives, Greene County

Creating Great Places and Whiterock Conservancy invite you to the event “Public Art for Rural Communities,”  to be held Friday afternoon through Saturday morning, November 2-3, 2012, at Coon Rapids, Iowa.

This art gathering will bring together a select group of artists, art appreciators, art patrons, and rural leaders from across Iowa to discuss prospects and potential for public art, even in small rural towns. The event will be held in lovely Coon Rapids, home to the 5,000-acre Whiterock Conservancy land trust, where residents are using music, sculpture, landscape painting, and more, to celebrate the community’s unique history and sense of place.

Featured participants will include:
–   Melinda Childs, Forecast Public Art
–   John Davis, director of the Arts Center from the thriving town of Lanesboro, MN (pop. 754).
–   Connie Goeken from the Spencer, Iowa, arts movement
–   Ron Kopeska, from the Franconia Sculpture Park
–   Rachel Garst, describing Coon Rapids assets and their expression through art

“Public Art for Rural Communities” will showcase the creative efforts of small communities in fostering and reaping the benefits of public art ranging from sculpture parks, cultural centers, and performance venues.  The idea is to learn from each other about how even small towns can create and reap the benefits of public art.

Besides networking, participants will enjoy live folk music, the Best Burger in Iowa, poetry, night-views of David Dahlquist’s massive “Hybrid Icon,” stargazing, breakfast at Whiterock’s beautiful River House, and a tour of part of beautiful Whiterock Conservancy.  The event will end on Saturday morning with a visit to the seventh annual Raccoon River Art Fair in downtown Coon Rapids.

Friday, November 2
1:00-1:30 Registration at the Whiterock Burr Oak Visitor Center,
1436 Hwy 141, Coon Rapids (half mile east of Coon Rapids)

1:30-5:00 Conference: Public Art for Rural Communities
Doug Carpenter

Welcome & Introductions
Melinda Childs
Forecast Public Art, Director of Service Program
Public Art Tool Kit
John Davis
Director, Lanesboro Arts Center
Cultivating the Arts in a Rural Community
coffee break
Exhibition of Nancy Thompson landscape paintings
Connie Goeken
Business Manager
Spencer Community Theatre
The scope and success of public art initiatives in Spencer
Ron Kopaska
Franconia Sculpture  Park
Advice and lessons learned for rural communities
Rachel Garst
Executive Director Creating Great Places
Coon Rapids – Whiterock public arts in progress

5:00-6:00 Live music on the Burr Oak Visitor Center patio

6:00-9:00 Dinner, Discussion, Poems, and Stargazing
Dinner at Coon Bowl III (2012 winner of Iowa’s Best Burger)
Open Discussion, Poetry Reading, Astronomy viewing (skies permitting)

Saturday, November 12
8:00-9:15 Breakfast and tour at Whiterock’s River House and Dance Barn
(5 miles SE of Coon Rapids at 1313 Fig Ave.)

9:30-10:30 Tour of Coon Rapids’ public art installations
David Dahlquist’s Hybrid Icon
Roadside Sculpture Park
Local art installations

All day (9:00-5:00) Coon Rapids’ 7th annual Raccoon River Art Fair
Over 20 art vendors
Live music
Local foods

To register for the art gathering, tours, and meals, please fill out and mail in the attached form.
Space is limited so make sure to reserve early!

For lodging near Coon Rapids at the historic Garst Farm, Woodland Carriage House, or Oakridge Farm House, reserve online at For lodging questions, email Whiterock at, or call 712-684-2697, ext.  112.

For questions about the event and its schedule, please contact Rachel Garst,, cell 712-210-4327, or Doug Carpenter at, cell 712-210-5075.

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