Art in the Alley Fund-raising for project continues

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Art in the Alley Fund-raising for project continues
Dubuque is one of several Iowa cities with art in its alleyways. A movement is underway in Elkader to launch a similar project that would beautify the alley from City Hall to Founders Park.

By Pam Reinig
Register Editor

Efforts are currently underway to raise funds for a project that would transform the long stretch of alley from Elkader City Hall to Founder’s Park into a walking art gallery.

Art in the Alley, as the effort is known locally, has long been discussed by the Main Street Elkader Design Committee as a way to beautify the alley and draw more visitors to town. The project received seed money for Phase 1 in the form of a $10,000 matching grant from the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation. The committee has raised about half the money it needs through fund-raising events like the recent Abbie’s Artwork show, private donations and downtown building owner investments.

“We are still seeking both financial donations as well as in-kind donations such as lodging, transportation and meals for artists, lifts and ladders, power washers, and materials,” said Kate Lower, Executive Director, Main Street Elkader. More information on ways to contribute is available by calling 563-245-2770 or emailing Lower at

The committee is also working on selection of the murals and printed panels that will be included in the display. Artists have until Monday April 15, to submit their ideas. Selections, which will be determined by May 1, will be based on several criteria including creative use of location and uniqueness of expression. Work is expected to begin in May and be completed in August.

According to Lower, the overall project falls under the heading of “creative placemaking,” “an evolving field of practice that intentionally leverages the power of the arts, culture and creativity to serve a community’s interest while driving a broader agenda.”

“Data strongly indicates that cities with an active and dynamic cultural scene are more attractive to individuals and businesses,” she added. “This Art in the Alley project, as well as future public art projects, will be important for strengthening Elkader’s sense of place and economic growth.”

This particular use of alleys while innovative is not new. Several Iowa cities including Dubuque, LeMars, Ottumwa, and Iowa City have undertaken a similar effort to great response. In other parts of the country, mural art is a definite, long-standing tourism draw. For example, since 1992, thousands have taken in the alley art in San Francisco’s Mission district.

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