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Barrett meets patrons at CCAC, discusses proposed public sculpture

  • Artist Molly Barrett poses with a small model of her proposed public art sculpture Friday at the Charles City Arts Center. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Artist Molly Barrett talks about her proposed artwork to patrons Friday at the CCAC. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Artist Molly Barrett meets and greets patrons at the CCAC on Friday. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob,

The reception at the Charles City Arts Center on Friday had a last-minute but worthy addition.

Molly Barrett, a Charles City native who is now a professional artist in the Twin Cities, held a meet-and-greet session with art patrons to discuss and promote her newest creation, a metal sculpture entitled “History in Shapes.”

The Charles City Public Art Committee of Community Revitalization is endorsing and helping to fundraise for Barrett’s proposed sculpture.

Barrett said she still has vivid images of her hometown in her mind. The proposed public art piece would capture those images for all to see, remember and celebrate.

“The inspiration behind it is growing up here in the 70s and 80s,” she said. “I was always sort of obsessed with our art-deco theatre. As a kid, I listened to all the stories about the tornado. My great aunt would talk about how it danced down Main Street.”

The sculpture, slated to be 13 to 15 feet high, would likely be erected near the Court Street end of the Main Street Bridge, next to the parking lot there and across the street from the Floyd County Courthouse.

The public art committee has worked with the park board and city improvement association to identify possible locations. The fundraising goal for the project is $9,000.

Barrett said her primary inspirations for the sculpture are her childhood memories of the Charles Theatre and the 1968 tornado. A 1985 grad, she said she also has vivid memories of White Farm Equipment closing.

“I remember my friends being terrified that their parents would lose their jobs,” she said.

Another inspiration for Barrett is the memory of Charles City’s iconic suspension bridge.

“So many walked and climbed on; water-skied, boated and ice-skated under this lost spectacle,” she read to those gathered at the CCAC on Friday. “The size was awesome, yet the piers were too simple, too elegant. The fear of its collapse made it a thrilling journey every time you crossed over.”

She said her piece encompasses those “memories of yesterday and sparks a light towards the future.”

Barrett is the daughter of Dan and Sarah Barrett, who moved to Charles City in 1973. She attended the University of Iowa and studied art, then after graduation she lived in Boston, where she has public art on display. From Boston she moved to Los Angeles, where she worked in art, acting and modeling. She met her husband there, then moved with him to Minnesota. She’s been in the Twin Cities for 20 years.

She said that the support for art in small-town Charles City is amazing.

“I cannot get over the fact that we have grown up with parents and leaders in this community who have put art as a priority in this town of about 7,000 people,” she said. “If every city was as interested in art, per capita, as Charles City is, I think it would be a much calmer world to live in.”

Barrett said she grew up across the street from Charles City art teacher Art Strong, who she called “one of her biggest inspirations.”

“He was one of the big reasons I pushed along the path I have, because he is very supportive,” she said. “The entire community is very supportive, and a hometown girl coming back and putting up a big piece is exciting. Chucktown rocks.”