Art center partners with Great River Care Center to offer art programming

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Maureen Wild has offered two chalk pastel classes at the Great River Care Center as part of a partnership between the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts and the care center. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Last year, McGregor’s Great River Care Center began offering art and music therapies to its residents as a way to help combat dementia. Helping the care center offer some of its art activities is the McGregor-Marquette Center for the Arts.

Art center board president Maureen Wild said Great River Care Center activity director Debbie Johnson approached the art center about offering some services. They agreed and, so far, Wild has taught two chalk pastel classes, one with 14 participants and another with around 16.

“They really love it and do a great job,” Wild said of the residents. 

She said she selected chalk because it’s less messy and often easier to do than some other art forms. For each class, she brought in different photos for participants to look at and copy. The first class focused on scenes a’ la Degas or Monet, while the second centered around flowers, reminiscent of Georgia O’Keefe’s work.

“The nice thing about chalk is it’s more impressionism than realism,” Wild said. “It doesn’t have to look perfect. It just looks beautiful and makes a nice picture.”

Wild said she can tell some participants have artistic backgrounds, while others are trying it for the first time. Either way, she said, it’s a good experience for the mind and body. She hopes to continue offering classes, whether it’s chalk or another medium.

“It’s so good to do creative things,” she noted. “It keeps your brain working better for longer.”

Wild said working with Great River Care Center is also an exciting experience for the art center, as it gets them even more involved with the community. Several years ago, she said, the art center began offering arts after school classes to area kids. For the last two years, adults have been able to take advantage of clay workshops.

“Now, we’re moving a step further and reaching out to the elderly,” she said. “I feel like we’re full-service now, meeting the needs of everyone.”

That has been at the heart of the art center’s goals since its inception, Wild said.

“People should know that, while there’s the shop and gallery that has great stuff, the whole heart of the art center is that it becomes a place where the community feels welcome and comfortable year-round,” she said. “I can see this growing into a lot more involvement.”

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