Dixon veteran spreading peace through public art

Shown is one of 15 lighted peace signs that were created by Mark Stach of Dixon using old trampoline frames. (Photo contributed)

DIXON - Iraqi war veteran Mark Stach was playing with his children on the family trampoline, just as he had done many times before. But on one particular day, he landed wrong and his tailbone crashed on the metal frame.

The fall was enough of a scare to make Stach decide to take down the trampoline. As he was disassembling it, he began thinking about what he might do with the frame because he did not want to discard it. At some point, an idea crossed his mind of turning the trampoline frame into a lighted peace sign symbol. With that, the “Peace of Art Project” was born.

Stach wanted to do something unique for Christmas and he looked at that first peace sign as a work of art. “I was able to take something simple and make it unique,” he said. “It was big and that was cool.”

Once Stach realized it was relatively simple to make, he had the idea to make more peace signs so they could really be seen. “I treat it as an art project now,” he said. “My gallery is the community.”

To find more trampoline frames, Stach posted on social media and the response was good. In a day-long journey, he and his family traveled from Princeton to Ottawa and then to the suburbs and back to Dixon, ending up with seven or eight trampolines. What started out as a single display in his family’s yard quickly grew into 15 displays throughout Illinois and Iowa with more planned for the coming year.

Stach loves to see the smiles the symbols bring. “It’s such a simple message. I think it speaks to anyone who sees it,” he commented. “Each one has a character and they’re created with our hearts. This is my subtle way of sharing something that is important to me - peace.”

Stach plans to make as many as funds and time allow. He estimates the cost at just over $100 each to make the peace signs and is taking donations of old frames, white LED Christmas lights, and cash to keep the project going. “Don’t throw away trampolines,” he emphasized. “I have a lot of friends who want to put one up.”

To help out, a Go Fund Me page is at https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-peace-of-art-project. Youtube videos can be found at https://youtu.be/E_ATkRapDDc.

Displays are currently installed at the following locations:

Dixon - N. Hennepin Ave., E. Bradshaw St., Peace Park, Zero’s Tap, Lost Nation Road/ Naylor Road and Rt. 52, both outside Dixon.

Sterling - Maple Lane, Dale Park.

Rock Falls - Prophetstown Road and E. Rt. 30, both outside Rock Falls, and Duden Road, next to Rt. 88.

Grand Detour - Grand Detour bridge.

Mt. Carroll - Market St.

Cambridge - South Road.

Davenport, Iowa - 97X Rock and Roll Mansion.

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