Building Community Through Art

We are thrilled to have our own David Dahlquist receive the Governor’s Art Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts during the 2016 Iowa Arts Summit, in recognition of his impact on the vitality of the arts in Iowa.

David specializes in the integration of artwork within building architecture and the landscape, and with more than 80 innovative public art projects, he leads Iowa and much of the nation in building stronger communities through art. His work has raised awareness of art in public life; creating social, economic, and environmental meaning. The High Trestle Trail Bridge, that links Madrid and Woodward  draws 20,000 visitors monthly, and have been featured in Public Art Network Year in Review, the Wall Street Journal, and London’s BBC named it one of the top 8 footbridges in the world.


David is a storyteller who works in many different materials, orchestrated in a way so the public is welcomed into and moved by the experience. He was an early adopter of digital glazing (firing computer images and text on clay and glass), and his research is used by other artists around the country.

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This innovative process is instrumental in our Art-in-Transit work, where through visual storytelling David and the artists and designers of RDG connect visitors to Iowa’s historic roots, celebrating Grant Wood, our agricultural traditions, our wind energy industry, and more.

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“David and I have worked together for more than a dozen years and I am honored to call him my friend.  David’s perspective is singular and unique.  He is a gifted thinker and a master storyteller.  There is magic in both his words and his work because he is able to see and speak the essential.  David’s skill as an artist is matched only by his strong character and deep integrity.  Those qualities can be found in all that he makes.  Each day we work together, I am reminded of the prevalence of beauty in this world and our obligation to make more of it, and for that I am truly thankful.” –    Justin Platts, Landscape Architect


David continues to innovate in the realm of public art; as a storyteller and educator, he knows society relies on a fundamental connection to the arts.  As a founding member of the Des Moines Public Art Foundation, he has also taught classes and workshops at more than 70 institutions across the country and the world, including Iowa’s Sister State in China. His leadership and innovation will set the bar for more engaging and meaningful public art in our communities.

You can get a recap of the 2016 Iowa Arts Summit and read more about the Governor’s Art Award Winners here.


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