Okoboji High School to compete in art guitar program

Thursday, March 27, 2014
Junior Kenny Olson showed the progress he has made thus far on Okoboji High School's entry for the 2014 Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Association Gretsch Art Guitar Program. Olson will eventually add to the wire frame to make it look like a Japanese cherry blossom tree growing out of the guitar. (Photos by Hanna Russmann)

Of nine schools set to compete in the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association Gretsch Art Guitar Program, two are located in northwest Iowa. Okoboji High School is one of the northwest Iowa schools vying for a top spot in the competition.

Olson provided a sketch how the guitar should look once complete.

"(The Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association) asked us to participate," Okoboji High School art teacher Laura Turner said. "I thought we should do it because now Milford, Okoboji and Arnold's Park students all go to school together, and the association is located in Arnold's Park. It's like we are representing the lakes area."

Turner chose one student to work on the non-playable guitar donated to the program by the Gretsch Foundation.

"I was debating for awhile whether to make this a group project, but I decided against it," Turner explained. "When creative people work on a project together, they tend to get caught up in their own ideas, and they can't move forward on what to do as a group."

Junior Kenny Olson was chosen to create Okoboji's entry. Turner said Olson was the right student for the job.

"Kenny is awesome and self-driven," Turner said. "I know he will see this through until the end."

"There is pressure with this project if I don't do well," Olson said. "It would be awesome if I do win though."

According to his teacher, Olson works "extremely" well in three-dimensional art and sculptures. He won best of show in an exhibition at the Pearson Lakes Art Center with a three-dimensional sculpture he created.

"I like seeing things go from a drawing on a piece of paper to the finished product of the sculpture," Olson said. "It is very easy for me to visualize the final product."

Olson plans to make the guitar look as if a tree is growing out of it. So far, he has only begun to construct wire framing in which to build the tree.

"I'll use paper mache and plaster of paris strips to build it up and sculpt the tree," he explained. "Then I will paint it. I want it to look like a Japanese cherry blossom tree. I will also make the roots look like they are going in and out of the guitar. It will be like when you see an old tree that attaches to and grows around things as they decompose."

He added, "I chose the Japanese cherry blossom tree because it is not big and obnoxious like other types of trees like a pine tree."

Turner said she is excited to see the end result.

"Sculpture is always changing," she said. "Artists modify it as they go, so it will be interesting to see how the guitar turns out."

Olson has until May 31 to complete his guitars metamorphosis into a tree for the competition. It will then be auctioned off at the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Museum in Arnold's Park on Labor Day weekend. During the summer, the guitars submitted by the different schools will be voted on and judged for the People's Choice and Artist Choice awards. The schools awarded either the People's Choice Award or Artist Choice Award will receive a $250 gift certificate for art supplies.

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