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Iowa City boosts public art with grants

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By Macey Spensley

macey.spensley@uiowa.edu

A publishing opportunity for the homeless and an interactive art experience are the first recipients of Iowa City’s public-art grant.

The money, granted through the City’s Public Arts Advisory Committee, will be awarded to the Johnson County Local Homelessness Coordination Board and local artist Breanne Trammell.

Marcia Bollinger, the Iowa City public-art coordinator, said the grant is funded through the Public Art Program of Iowa City; $8,000 is available to be given away over the year.

“The maximum grant amount is $2,000 for each group, so far we’ve spent $2,100,” she said. “We will have another round of applications on April 22 and July 22.”

The grant awarded to the Homelessness Coordination Board for its Community Bookmakers Project will allow homeless individuals to write and make books to tell their stories.

“I think usually in the publishing community, the voices of those experiencing homelessness are often underrepresented,” said Yeshe Tsomo, the project manager for the project. “This is an opportunity to have that voice there in a way that gives people a better idea of what homelessness is like.”

Tsomo said the workshop project will extend for six weeks and the group has also been invited to read their stories at a local coffee shop.

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“We’re having a public exhibit at the end of the workshop at Public Space One,” she said.

The other project awarded money through the grant is an interactive art experience called SPACE JAM, to take place during the Mission Creek Festival, April 5 to 10.

“The multidisciplinary program will feature a free family portrait studio on April 9 and a Reading Room and Lounge in the space above Deadwood,” Trammell said.

The group will also be projecting visuals at night through the window above the Deadwood, 6 S. Dubuque St.

“We’ll also offer zine-making instructions, supplies, and a copy machine for participants to make a zine right there on the spot,” she said.

Trammell’s other project, called the Reading Room and Lounge, will feature work from Iowa City artists such as self-published zines, artist books, experimental printed matter, and small-press publications.

The Mission Creek Festival has historically been a music-and-literary-focused event, but Trammell said the group’s aim has been to expand that focus to provide a meaningful visual-art experience that goes beyond the traditional white-wall art gallery.

“We wanted to offer a free interactive art experience that honors the make-up and creativity of Iowa City,” she said.

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