Coralville artist returns to Eldon hometown for massive “American Gothic” mural

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ELDON, IA — It doesn’t get much better than this for a budding artist — or for a humble small town with a renowned American feature. Katlynne Hummell Underhill is painting the largest outdoor mural of her career (20 feet tall by 30 feet wide), featuring an iconic art image (the farmhouse from Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting), with the support of a revered arts organization (The Grant Wood Art Colony), in her hometown (Eldon, Ia.). And, her resourceful technique will likely help preserve her work longer and better. “I…

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Front-lines teacher raised in Iowa remembers few childhood chances to meet, know People of Color

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At a time when straight white men are leading so many fights against diversity, some straight white men are fighting the good fight. They include Kent Mick, a Grinnell High School history teacher who grew up in Humboldt, Ia., and has taught public schools in Iowa for most of his life. Mick knows from personal experience that being a native Iowan can mean little to no experience interacting with People of Color, even today. He recalls “barely being exposed to People of Color” as a child and teen, and said…

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LGBTQ and POC: what’s it like to grow up in Iowa?

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This year’s 50th anniversary of Stonewall, though moving, has also been marred by episodes of entitlement. These included the shoutdown, at Stonewall Inn itself, of a black transgender woman as she tried to read the names of murdered transgender women amid a party involving mostly white gay men. The episode illuminated that even LGBTQ communities, while themselves marginalized, are still struggling with intersectionality, inclusion, and respect for other marginalized communities. Isaac Burris, 22, and Adrienne L. Woodard, 59, were among the headline performers at Iowa City Pride recently. They also…

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“Bears:” a peek into the culture

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Rob Anderson of Cedar Rapids is one of Iowa’s leaders in “bear” culture and Mr. Iowa Leather 2016. He took a few minutes to share with Christine Hawes about bear culture, in this Q&A, edited for brevity and clarity. What is “bear” culture? The easiest definition of a “Bear” is a male-identified individual bigger in size who tends to have a hairy body and likely some facial hair.  Within the community, there are various types of bears and similar animals that are used to describe people — such as “cub”…

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ANALYSIS: Liz Bennett: open, bold, bi and progressive

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The national political scene is all abuzz over Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and her boldly femme presentation of open bisexuality at her swearing-in ceremony while touting boldly progressive policies. Turns out Iowa has its own “Sinema,” a female politician almost more bold than Arizona’s Democratic upset victor. Rep. Liz Bennett, D-Cedar Rapids, has for years sported bold styles with meaning, offered an openness about her lifestyle, and pressed even her fellow Democrats to do better for marginalized people. Bennett, who first met Sinema almost 10 years ago, is her Midwestern parallel…

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Roller derby’s women power through Iowa

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IOWA CITY — Seeking out bruising physical contact, and falling and rolling around on top of each other are things normally associated with guys. But in roller derby, the world’s fastest-growing sport and one growing in popularity throughout Iowa, women are the ones displaying this kind of non-stop physical dominance and strength. Few players illustrate that better than Hannah Wyland, the strapping jammer and player/coach/trainer for Old Capitol City Roller Derby. Wyland’s fancy footwork, muscular moves and speedy skating make her a standout at every match. And no wonder; she…

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