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Blanden Museum turns 80

Festivities will include musicians, marionettes, tie-dye art

June 17, 2012
By JOE SUTTER, , Messenger News

The Blanden Memorial Art Museum will celebrate 80 years of bringing free exhibitions to Fort Dodge.

The festivities will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the museum, 920 Third Ave. S. There will be food, arts activities for the kids outside under the tents, a marionette show and three indoor concerts in the Blanden's East Gallery.

Pianist Jonathan Thomas, a West Coast native who moved to Fort Dodge when he was 8 years old and began to play the piano, will perform at 11 a.m., and Ejanae Hume, of Council Bluffs, will perform at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Artist Roger Feldhans displays a tie-dye tapestry he made in front of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum. Feldhans will be one of the artists helping with the Museum’s 80th anniversary celebration.

"(Hume) plays violin and guitar, sings and composes her own songs," said Art Educator Linda Flaherty.

"She'll be doing a little bit of everything," said Pamela Kay, in the business office.

At 10 a.m. and noon, Richard Elenspeter will perform a marionette show portraying the story of Hansel and Gretel.

The Elenspeter Marionettes is a professional full-time marionette company that has been operating for almost 140 years. Its tradition of puppetry began in Elen, Germany, with Richard Elenspeter's great-grandfather. The company specializes in performing children's classics.

Flaherty said the anniversary celebration will mark a return trip for Elenspeter, whose marionettes performed in Fort Dodge a few years ago.

After the show Saturday, one of the marionettes will come forward for closer inspection by the audience and a question and answer period with the performer.

Local artist Roger Feldhans will offer kids an opportunity to do tie-dye and spin art.

"That's always really popular," Flaherty said.

There will also be other self-directed art activities going on.

The Hickey Lunch Wagon will offer walking tacos, coneys, hot dogs and desserts.

While visitors are there, they can also check out the exhibits in the museum, including the recently opened "Seeing the World: 1830-1920," which features scenes from around the globe.

"(It) is a group of etchings by American and European artists," said Blanden Director Margaret Skove. "We have to think about that time period ... It was not easy to travel; it was dangerous. But it's part of being creative to see other cultures."

That's one aspect of what the Blanden brings to Fort Dodge, she said.

"The Blanden provides opportunities for people to see the world larger than themselves, and back in historic times. So you see different cultures, different styles, different ways of thinking, of behaving, of viewing what is your place in the world. Your place in the world is so much enhanced by the more you see, the more you do."

The Blanden has been providing these opportunities since 1931, when former Fort Dodge Mayor Charles Granger Blanden donated $35,000 to build the museum. The building was designed by Fort Dodge architect E.O. Damon Jr., modeled after the neo-classical style of an Ohio art museum. An addition to the original building in 1998 brought handicapped accessibility to the building.

Admission to the museum is always free.



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