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Hitting a high note

GuitarTown donates $12K to three organizations, looks forward to next phase.

By Sarah Pryor
Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA – Guitar-Town President Rick Congdon said Phase Two of the public art project was a big success – but a different kind of success from Phase One.

2013 GuitarTown DonationsOn Saturday, Congdon presented $12,000 checks to the Food Pantry of Waukesha County, Habitat for Humanity of Waukesha County and the Waukesha School District.

“Our programs make life stable for people in need so they can enjoy the arts,” said Karen Tredwell, executive director of the Food Pantry.

Habitat For Humanity Executive Director Diane McGeen and Steve Fisher of the Waukesha School District also expressed their gratitude for the checks, which Congdon gave out at The Steaming Cup.

“This partnership with the community is really what makes Waukesha special,” Fisher said.

Last year, the Waukesha County Museum and Historical Society received $45,000 from GuitarTown for its Les Paul exhibit, the Waukesha School District received $45,000 and the Waukesha Community Health Center received $15,000.

“I’d call it a different kind of success, but still a success,” Congdon said. “We gave away less money but we have these great murals – and those murals cost a lot of money. So when I get depressed about the money we raised I walk downtown and say ‘Hey, we did OK.’” Congdon said many of the murals are also on panels that can be removed if a building needs to be torn down or if something is built that obstructs the mural.

“It’s something that’s very long-term,” he said.

So is Phase Two the end of the Gibson Guitar Corp.-sponsored public art project?

“We’re not over, not by a long shot,” Congdon said.

Although plans for GuitarTown Phase Three are extremely preliminary and haven’t yet been confirmed with Gibson, Congdon said he’s hoping to expand the art project into every school in the Waukesha School District, as well as the private schools in Waukesha.

“We were very happy with what happened last time – giving a big guitar to the upper grades,” Congdon said. “Now we want to do that inclusively, including the grade schools along with the private schools.”

Congdon said it’s a work in progress and he’s hoping Gibson will donate some of the guitars as well.

“What does GuitarTown mean? To me, it means a sense of community,” Congdon said.