BEST ART NEWS OF 2018: A great BIG canvas – Fort Dodge Messenger

-Messenger file photo by Hans Madsen
Artist Guido van Helten, of Brisbane, Australia, worked on part of the silo mural about 80 feet off the ground, despite changing weather.

As Guido van Helten’s artwork on the grain silo along Hawkeye Avenue came to a close in 2018, Fort Dodge was left with a must-see attraction as having the largest mural in Iowa.

The 110-foot-tall silos were transformed into a 360-degree mural, visible from all sides.

Van Helten painted photographs of Fort Dodge area residents on the concrete canvas.

His work was chosen by the Public Art Committee, which was formed in 2016 to oversee the silo project. Members include city planning staff, the Fort Dodge Fine Arts Association, the Image Committee of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, and staff from the Blanden Memorial Art Museum.

The cost of this project is $131,993. It was funded by grants, donations, and tourism dollars, not local property taxes.

When asked how he chooses who goes into the artwork, van Helten said, “Most importantly, I’d like to say it is not about the individual or group of individuals. These people are modeling for me as a way of standing in for shared community values and history.” That information was provided in a FAQ by the city.

The local ceramics and stoneware pictured on the mural was provided by the Fort Museum. In a recent story from The Messenger, van Helten said, “I based the mural on a symbolic idea. I worked with the Fort Museum. They learned some pottery. I thought that was an interesting idea to use that as a symbol of sharing these between each other. It’s kind of like shared history.”

He added, “It’s kind of like the movement of passing things around. You will be able to walk around it and it’s a feeling of sharing. It’s not so literal, but it gives that idea.”

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