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Drawn to the stars: Wall Installation pays tribute to Marshalltown’s Hollywood icons

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The six Marshalltown stars, hand drawn by Marshalltown students, are featured within the front vestibule area facing E. Main Street.

From iconic performances to unforgettable storytelling, movie stars captivate audiences for years to come. But one movie-inspired art installation at the Orpheum Theatre aims to share the history of Marshalltown stars and inspire the next generation of thespians.

“I’ve always felt it really important to learn and respect the past and to use what you learn from that and what you see from that to try to build a better future going forward,” said Marshalltown Community School District (MCSD) Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte.

After the purchase of the Orpheum Theatre in 2021, MCSD had been looking for ways to dress up different parts of the building. One of the large spaces to think about was the front vestibule area facing E. Main Street. Schutte felt the area would be perfect for highlighting Marshalltown stars since it leads visitors to two different theater spaces.

Schutte, a “history guy by nature,” has long been intrigued by the Marshalltown alums who have gone on to do big things on the stage or in Hollywood. When he was looking for photos of the stars for the graphic, he discovered that it was difficult to find high-quality images. He then found his solution at the MCSD student art show.

“I was really drawn to these photorealistic charcoal drawings that our high school students had been doing,” said Schutte. “I thought it would be so cool to have our kids draw the portraits of these famous people.”

The Marshalltown superintendent coordinated with the Marshalltown High School Art Department and several art students to create six portraits. All of them needed to be completed before creating the graphic for the large wall space.

“It’s been a labor of love. (Students) have really liked it because of the uniqueness of the project, but it’s taken two years in order for it to go from an idea to actually getting the portraits done,” he said.

Marshalltown alums Veronica Ramirez, who drew the portrait of Dale Paullin, and Connor Hugen, who created the Jean Seberg portrait, were two of the students who helped work on the project. They saw their artwork displayed for the first time in the Orpheum Theatre in early June.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘Wow, this is going to be up here forever’,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez and Hugen did not know much about the individuals they were drawing when they were working to immortalize them in art form. After completing the portraits, both mentioned how they developed an appreciation for each of the six featured in the Orpheum.

“It’s cool to see even just six people from Marshalltown get to be big,” said Hugen.

The inspiration that Ramirez and Hugen received from seeing the six portraits up on the wall was Schutte’s driving force with the wall graphic: Marshalltown students inspired by visuals of human excellence in their own career field.

“They see that it is possible for them to do big things, to have big dreams, and to follow those dreams,” said Schutte. “My hope would be to show examples of excellence that will inspire kids to pursue excellence as well as their lives and careers.”

Community members can see the portraits themselves during business hours and enter through the Welcome Center portion of the building, located at 220 E. Main Street. Questions about the installation can be directed to tschutte@marshalltown.k12.ia.us.

The following are the Marshalltown students that worked on the project and what portrait

they created:

– Fernando Garcia (Class of 2026) – T. Nelson Downs, magician

– Veronica Ramirez (Class of 2024) – Dale Paulian, actor

– Connor Hugen (Class of 2023) – Jean Seberg, actress

– Lydia Blevins (Class of 2024) – Mary Beth Hurt, actress

– Alejandro Alvarez (Class of 2025) – Toby Huss, actor

– Natalie Climer (Class of 2027) – Joseph Kosinski, director

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