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Grain Silo Mural Art Coming to Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge, Iowa

The Fort Dodge City Council approved a contract with artist Guido van Helten at their regular meeting on Monday, June 11th.  The project is one of several tactics established as part of the City’s Northwest River District Revitalization Plan; and is facilitated by the Public Art Coalition, an informal group of art enthusiasts from within the community. It requires City approval due to an easement that has been put in place authorizing the City to have the mural installed.

The $132,000 mural project is funded through grants, donations, and tourism dollars; including funds from Art Visionaries such as the Catherine Vincent Deardorf Foundation, America’s Best Communities, Iowa Arts Council, Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, Fort Dodge Community Foundation, Allers Architects, Walmart, and Fort Dodge Convention & Visitors Bureau; as well as funds from Art Connoisseurs such as Amigos Bar & Restaurant, Availa Bank, C&S Products, Citizens Community Credit Union, CJ Bio America, Fort Dodge Ford/Toyota, Gunderson Funeral Home, Kallin-Johnson Monument, Northwest Bank, and other Art Enthusiasts. 

Guido van Helten will install the mural this summer.  As a world-renowned large-scale muralist completing works in far-reaching regional communities worldwide, van Helten’s proposal was chosen by the Public Art Coalition out of a group of semi-finalists.  His proposal excelled in relation to the intrinsic artistic value and benefits, project specifications, guarantee, and budget.  In addition to having robust experience and a large international following, van Helten’s artwork celebrates the people of Fort Dodge through real images of community members. Photography and consultation are at the core of the artist’s approach, celebrating the real-life identities of folks living in rural communities and commemorating the present-day residents. His unique portraits are created using the best quality materials and techniques with neutral colors chosen specifically to blend well with the existing industrial architecture. This approach not only ensures the artwork will weather well, but also celebrates these overlooked structures that dominate the skylines of the communities where he paints.

Recent murals painted by van Helten around the United States include projects in Nashville, TN, Jacksonville, FL, and Fort Smith, AR.  Van Helten will also be completing a project in South Dakota prior to spending more than a month in Fort Dodge creating this work of art.  “This will be the only Guido van Helten mural in Iowa, and the largest mural in Iowa.” said Mayor Matt Bemrich.  “This provides Fort Dodge the opportunity to not only clean up an abandoned structure, but to turn this unique place into a creative place – adding to the mix of quality of life features in our community.”

During the artist’s past Fort Dodge visits he has gone fishing with local fisherman, visited local mining industry sites and visited with local residents.  The artist speaks about his approach and time in Fort Dodge. “I’m excited to experience Fort Dodge again.  It’s important for me to create a piece that is accurate and honest, serving as a real representation of the community.  This piece and many others I create are a social message in promoting the everyday person.  These are real people of Fort Dodge that contribute to the character and experience of the community.”

By approving the contract with Guido van Helten, the Council is giving the Public Art Coalition their nod of approval to proceed.  Council Member Terry Moehnke stated “this project really shows that our community has an appetite for more creative spaces like this one. We will have more opportunities in the future to engage Fort Dodge residents as the artist.  The Public Art Coalition determined that a mural of this magnitude and scope requires a substantial amount of experience and understanding of the appropriate materials and process for installation.  We feel as though we are getting just that.”

The Public Art Coalition has also applied for a grant to install amenities around the mural, including a trail loop, benches, and lighting. The group is coordinating with the property owner and City leaders regarding improvements at this commonly used trail head.

For news and updates about this and future public art projects by the Coalition visit or like “Fort Dodge Public Art” on Facebook.

Fort Dodge City Council Approves Grain Silo Mural Contract: News
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