Woman brings strength through art
“Marshalltown Strong” is a statement that means a lot to the residents of Marshalltown and shows the resilience of the city. After the tornado of July 2018, symbols of this resilience started to pop up around town and not many knew who had spray painted them.
That woman is Bea Klauenberg.
“I think the tornado took a big hit on Marshalltown,” Klauenberg said.
She said it is still very heartbreaking every time a building is knocked down or a tree is taken out.
Klauenberg said she was going to participate in the art fair last year by doing some chalk-paint work, but then the tornado hit and the fair wasn’t going to happen.
“I had the chalk-paint and I hadn’t cut my stencils and I thought I should go up to some of the damaged buildings and put something there for people to see,” Klauenberg said.
She cut out her stencil using the “M Strong” T-shirts as her base and then adding the courthouse into the background, even including the time 4:40 p.m. on the clock, which is about the time that the clock stopped on the courthouse when it was hit.
“Some I just put on the plywood covering windows and didn’t ask or just used the chalk-paint downtown, but then people just started asking me to do it,” Klauenberg said.
She said she has done hundreds of them across Marshalltown. When she would go and paint them for residences, neighbors would ask for one too. Due to the large amount of people who asked her to paint them at houses or businesses she ended up in parts of Marshalltown she had never been to before.
Klauenberg said it wasn’t long before she switched to using spray paint so that her symbols lasted longer and people could keep them.
“I did it so people would have something to talk about other than the damage and destruction,” she said.
Klauenberg said she had places she wanted to put them, like the Gallery Garden, but the majority of people asked her to do it and she was happy to do it for them.
“It was really fun, I got to meet a lot of cool people, I heard a lot of nice stories and heard a lot of heartbreaking stories,” Klauenberg said.
She ended up donating more than $1,000 to different groups in Marshalltown with money that people paid her for her work.
“Jeff Linton really got it going, he said that if I could raise $200 he would match it,” Klauenberg said. “Some people gave me $5 and some gave me $20, but Jeff wrote me out a check for $300.”
Klauenberg said that many of her symbols were put on temporary surfaces and are now gone, but she hopes to be able to put up some big ones that will stay forever in the future.
“To me these symbols mean community, people coming together,” Klauenberg said. “I hope that these symbols show people that others do care.”
Contact Logan Metzger
at 641-753-6611 or