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MOVING ART: Paintings Encourage Exercise

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A local artist wants to fill the blank walls at the Polk County Health Department with something that's more than just decoration.

Artist Richard Shook says he loves painting. He says, "It's a joy, a little music in the background, putting paint on.” He goes on to say, "For me, it's all about experiencing color and creating something that's new."

He decided he wanted to create something new for the Polk County Health Department when he and his wife were waiting for their flu shots one day. He says, "That was when I said to her, this place needs art work."

Polk County Health Department Director Rick Kozin says, "To paraphrase the Godfather, he came to us with an offer that was really impossible to turn down."

Kozin says Shook told him he'd create a series of paintings showing people being active. Kozin says, "It would emphasize physical activity, so it would be art that would make people think about becoming healthier, and he would raise all of the money himself, and we wouldn't have to invest or spend any taxpayer dollars."

Shook says the project will cost about $70,000. He's currently raising money while working on the first painting. He says, "This is called The Bike Club."

It's the first of 6 paintings in a two year project. Shook says, "They're all intended to invite this sense of activity to become active and to enjoy it." Other paintings will show kids on a playground, people doing yoga and swimming.

Kozin says the artwork will enhance the department's education efforts in a way words alone can't do. He says, “This artwork will demonstrate how there are a variety of ways and a number of easy ways to incorporate being physically active into how you go about your business day to day.”

Shook says he hopes that comes across in his artwork, as he invites you to get moving.

The first painting will be installed this May. The last will go up in January 2015. People interested in supporting the project can donate through the Metro Arts Alliance.