City officials hope to kick off public art initiative in Grundy Center

GRUNDY CENTER – What’s something that can really put Grundy Center on the map and set it apart from all of the other rural, small town communities across Iowa? What could bring more people to visit, and maybe even to live here?
In search of an answer to those questions, and inspired by the creativity of other small towns around the country, a small team of city officials and community members have landed on a possible answer: public art.
This group, called the Alley CATS (Community Art Through the Streets), are looking to kick off an exciting new initiative to bring more public art to town, and they’re hoping to gain interest from the community to get the ball rolling on a few projects.
Heading the initiative are Main Street Grundy Center Director Lisa Bienfang and Grundy Center City Council member Amanda Grineski, who decided to start Alley CATS after being inspired by other small towns they’ve visited: Le Mars, Iowa, with its painted alleyways, and Casey, Illinois, a little town known for it’s big things (World’s Largest Golf Tee, Wooden Clogs, Rocking Chair, Wind Chime, etc.).
Grineski, who organizes sightseeing bus tours around the country for GNB Bank, says she has seen firsthand how far out of their way people are willing to travel to a small town, just to see something unique.
“During one of our trips, we drove three hours out of the way to visit this tiny town of Casey, Illinois, because they’re home to the World’s Largest clogs, birdcage, knitting needles and a bunch of other things,” she said. “Here in Grundy Center, we already have so many nice things for people to see and do, with the Mutch Museum, the Herbert Quick Schoolhouse, the museum in Morrison, and everything else; we just need something that’s a wow factor, a centerpiece to really drive people here, and I think public art is a great way to do that.”
Grineski and Bienfang agreed that Grundy Center has so much local talent, and that they want to showcase it and display it proudly around town – not to mention that the timing is perfect.
“With the façade project that’s going to be starting downtown, a lot of the building fronts are going to be closed off during construction and customers will be redirected to use backdoors and go through alleys,” Bienfang said. “Now is the perfect time to clean up those alleys and make them sparkle, and add a fun and quirky touch with some public art.”
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