BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Baxter Sports Complex pavilion turned into an art depot on Friday night.
The Potowonok Circle of Kings Daughters paired up some top-shelf local artists with local celebrities to raise money for the ladies group’s annual charitable functions.
Becky Carlsen, who coordinated the event, said the idea was kind of swiped then adapted from Burlington’s Battle of the Brushes.
“I’ve gone a couple years to Battle of The Brushes and Tammy McCoy is a friend of my daughter’s and I told the girls we should go up and see what it’s about for a fundraiser,” Carlsen said.
“We struggled to replace the Summer Soiree and Dueling Pianos the Potowonok used to do in the past and the charity ball we did in the winter, so we needed a big fundraiser to replace what was those events and this is it.”
So Carlsen and other Potowonok members went to work recruiting high profile local professionals to pair up with local artists to start and complete works of art during an evening of hors d’ouevres and cocktails.
With music being the theme of the night, Fort Madison Mayor Brad Randolph paired with Anita Lee on an oil painting, Fort Madison attorney Elaine Gray paired with Linda Ross on a clay sculpture, Bobby Holtkamp was coupled with Lori Illner Greene on a wire sculpture, and Julie Hohl, owner of Harvestville Farms and Harvestville Farm Mercantile, worked on a charcoal sketch with John Bybee.
‘We had to reassure Bobby that he wasn’t going to have to draw stuff. In Burlington, the Battle of the Brushes is all painting. And we decided to change it up into different mediums so you didn’t have to worry about not being able to paint,” Carlsen said.
Illner Green, who also serves on the Potowonok board, said she was happy to be paired up with Holtkamp, but it took a little prodding.
“We really wanted Bobby involved because of his personality, and he was like, ‘We’re not doing it if I’m drawing something’ and I said I’ll come up with something that would work for him,” Ilner Green said.
Holtkamp said his wife Jessica is part of the Potowonok group and as long as he didn’t have to draw anything, he was excited to be part of the event.
“Jessica is part of the Potowonok group and I’m a big fan of it, too. It’s a good cause,” he said. “Beth reached out to me and I was hesitant because I don’t have that much art in my blood. But when she told me who I would be with, I jumped all over it because Lori’s a great artist.”
The two used copper wiring to create reduced scale representations of a saxophone, a guitar, and an autoharp, then mounted them to wood.
Holtkamp and Illner Green’s project was named People’s Choice after collecting close to $100 in his tip jar. The award came with a $50 gift card to Buffalo61.
The event itself generated profits of close to $3,000, including $1,100 for the artwork, which was auctioned off at the end of the night.
Randolph, a dentist with offices in Burlington, said his artistic talents had been limited to creating teeth.
“I would say I didn’t know I had an artistic style. In my profession I have to be a little bit of an artist because sometimes I have to create teeth out of nothing and there are contours and line angles in teeth, so I guess I have an understanding of it,” Randolph said.
“But I’m happy to be a part of it because the cultural arts have a foothold in our community and I think it’s great to showcase those things.”
Hohl, who’s also a member of the Potowonok group, said she, too was surprised by her works with the help of Bybee.
“It’s fun and something totally unique. I’m already really surprising myself and impressed. I’m completely filthy, but it’s fun,” Hohl said.
“I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. He’s been a great teacher and it’s just a really cool experience not only for the artists and me, but for everyone else and it’s for a good cause.”
Gray was working a clay “amplifier”, and said she was happy that it was helping through art work because the arts need more attention.
“We just sought out experts to pair with people like me who don’t know much about it all and see what happens, because the arts are falling away,” Gray said.
“Through the schools and through the communities and funding through the city, the arts are just falling away.”
Part of the group’s charitable support goes to Central Park’s Gazebo, the Eichacker Center, Fort Madison Area Arts Association’s Art Camp and Early-Out Programs, Fort Madison Food Pantry, Fort Madison YMCA, Special Olympics, Special Kids Rodeo, Christmas for Kids/Teens, Summer Band concerts, and Emma Cornelius Hospitality House.