ImaginArt in the Alleys

City of Marion

Funding Received: 2014
Marion, IA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
January 19, 2017

During the visioning process for our alley project in 2014, a place for live music was often requested. The City owns only the 10’-wide alleyways themselves, like the one shown in this photo from 2015. But thanks to an easement space acquired behind private property seen on the left, a stage has been created. Visitors will now have a permanent outdoor venue where everyone can enjoy the performing arts, art demonstrations and special events in Uptown Marion.

The 9’ by 23’ wall behind the stage area was made possible through a generous in-kind contribution from Ryan Companies (Cedar Rapids), with additional support from area businesses including Seedorff Masonry (Strawberry Point), Central States Concrete (Marion), and T&K Roofing and Sheet Metal Co (Ely). These in-kind donations are very much appreciated, and will help make the stage a functional and beautiful focal point in the area referred to as the Central Commons of our project site.

The stage area took shape throughout the construction season of 2016. Brad Thomason, a Ryan employee and Marion resident, has been instrumental in coordinating the project - networking with many partners and even prepping the stage wall himself on behalf of the artist. As an accomplished architect, Brad has also provided valuable insights as a member of our Artist Selection Panel. Ryan Companies built a temporary enclosure to keep the area warm enough for artist Cecilia Lueza to paint comfortably in mid-November.

The public asked for artwork that references our history – both cultural and natural. So our Artist Selection Panel expects the theme of native Iowa birds to resonate with the community (Our local Audubon Society contributed to this project!). Cecilia Lueza, who has an affinity for birds of all sorts, traveled here from Miami with her family and spent several days working on her beautiful mural. They plan to return for the Grand Opening on May 20, when the stage will finally be put to use. In the interim, thoughtful planning is happening behind the scenes. It is anticipated that the stage will be used to promote existing Marion businesses, showcase local talent, and offer a myriad of new opportunities for creative expression. Innovative ideas are welcome! To share your thoughts, visit the Uptown Marion Main Street website. Better yet, volunteer to help make it happen!