For Immediate Release
July 25, 2016

Contact: Alan MacVey
Director of UI’s Division of Performing Arts, Chair of Arts Advancement Committee

UI Partnership Explores the Many Layers of Maquoketa

A new partnership with the University of Iowa is working to engage Maquoketa’s arts, civic, and cultural organizations with residents of all ages to celebrate the city’s past, present, and future.  

Various aspects of the theme “Layers of Maquoketa,” will be explored through creative projects, such as writing, art, and music, during the life of the project which is set to culminate in the spring of 2017.  The initiative is being led by a local steering committee made up of representatives from organizations such as the Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce, the Maquoketa Art Experience, Maquoketa Community schools, the Sentinel Press, the Jackson County Historical Society, the Hurstville Interpretive Center, the Maquoketa Ministerial Association, local artists, and many more partners.  Support for various classroom- and community-based creative projects will come from faculty and graduate students from the University of Iowa.

Several projects are in the planning stages to be implemented this fall, including a profile writing workshop for high school students focused on residents and features of Maquoketa; a family nature walk featuring hands-on creative activities; and a variety of opportunities for community members of all ages to engage in art, writing, and other creative outlets.

A Pilot Project

The Layers of Maquoketa project is being co-sponsored by the University of Iowa’s Arts Share program and the Office of Outreach & Engagement, as well as the Arts Advancement Committee in the Office of the Provost. The partnership with Maquoketa is a pilot program for the University of Iowa as it works to develop new and exciting ways to connect with Iowa communities.  “The hope is that by working closely with a community on a variety of creative projects over the course of several months, we can help deepen a sense of local pride, strengthen the ties among residents, and enrich the University of Iowa’s relationship with that community,” said Professor Alan MacVey, chair of the Arts Advancement Committee.  “When considering possible sites to pilot this idea, the city of Maquoketa was a natural choice. It is a community with many interesting layers to explore, from its deep roots in agriculture and innovation, to its diverse visual and performing arts offerings, its vast recreational opportunities, and so much more!”

Tom Devine, executive director of the Maquoketa Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “We are excited about the possibilities afforded by the Layers of Maquoketa project and this new partnership with the University of Iowa.  With the ever-developing art programs offered by the Maquoketa Art Experience, the partnership with the Grant Wood Scenic Byway, our nationally renowned ‘Portraits of Maquoketa’ artist Rose Frantzen, and the positive progression of the Downtown Streetscape project and the ‘Parks to People’ Grant Wood Loop, Maquoketa is a natural choice for this pilot program and we welcome this incredible opportunity.”

More details about Layers of Maquoketa partnership will be available soon.  Project ideas are welcome and encouraged. Members of the Maquoketa community who are interested in getting involved in this initiative should contact Nancy Kilburg at the Maquoketa Art Experience by calling (563) 652-9925.

Column from the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press, 2017, by Nancy Mayfield

One of the best things about being new to a community is the fun of learning all about it – its residents, its landscape, its economy, its activities, its food, its history.

It's much like getting to know an acquaintance who will become a good  friend. You delight in discovering who they are, layer by layer.

My “get-acquainted” process with Maquoketa the past two years received a unique boost when I got involved with a pilot project launched by the University of Iowa’s Office of Outreach and Engagement more than a year ago.

Dubbed “Layers of Maquoketa,” the project brought together people from all walks of life to talk about what gives us a sense of place about this city we call home.

We’ve talked about the rich history of agriculture and industry, the beauty and resources of the landscape, the cultural and recreational opportunities, the stories of people whose families trace back generations in this area and those who joined the community more recently.

These discussions about what makes us “us” have morphed into concrete plans to celebrate Maquoketa.

Over the months, with assistance from U of I staff, different groups have been working on projects that involve creative art projects, interviews with everyday people, research into historical buildings, personal stories about special memories and much more.

I want everyone to please mark their calendars for the third week of April when all kinds of fun, interesting and exciting events are scheduled to showcase layer upon layer of what makes Maquoketa a reflection of the the people who live here, the history of the city and and land that defines it.

The Layers of Maquoketa event will culminate Saturday, April 22 when downtown will be transformed into a festival marketplace with performances by middle school and high school jazz bands, a pancake breakfast at the Maquoketa Caves, a grand opening of the renovated downtown, Hurstville Interpretive Center Earth Day activities in the Green Space, food vendors, a major cultural presentation featuring food and dance by our Micronesian community, a show by the Coronado Car Club and retailers open until 8 p.m.

That’s not all. Exhibits starting on Tuesday and running through Saturday include a Maquoketa Middle School history project, a Maquoketa High School book art project, a Maquoketa industry display, creative works by Clinton Community College students, an historical building display by the Jackson County Historical Society, and the premiere of a documentary on the Maquoketa Volunteer Fire Department.

And there’s more! A coffee house featuring local musicians, poetry and story readings and a Lego robotics demonstration; the YMCA Healthy Kids event; and a discussion on The Layers project. Whew!

There is much to celebrate here in Maquoketa. And this year’s event marks the cornerstone of an ongoing effort to peel back the layers for years to come.

Stay tuned for more information.