Sandbox: Thuggoons!

Sandbox is a corner of the web dedicated to Iowa City artists working to engage the public in an interactive environment. Find out more here.

I’ve known for awhile that being in community with other artists, and contributing to creative goals larger than myself, is one of the best things for my life and my art. Moving to Iowa City has been like a breath of fresh air. I’ve been blown away by the vibrancy of this town! The energy I have felt since moving here and working with Public Space One has been invigorating!

In the next few posts I will show you the community groups, events and projects I have been working on since my residency started in October.

One of the first groups I jumped into was the THUGGOON WILL-BE-BANNED BAND.


I experimented with wearing a goon stick. I thought about an instrument as wearable art; occupying space physically and with sound vibrations, intuitively moving and playing. This is what I experienced during my first encounter with the Thuggoons. This, and an instant connection with others!


I was reminded of a found-object instrument I made a few years back, a Lichen Branch Banjo. The group discussed other possibilities of fashioning instruments, and reworking the piano for our own purposes. Yet again I was reminded that the possibilities of art are endless.

So I went on a search for my own goon stick.


My dog, Rudy, helped me. She stood right over it and I was struck by the purple sheen the bark gave off in the light.



Subscribe for daily news updates from Little Village


It felt right, cradled on my shoulder, starting above my head and curving around the front of my body. It felt delicate, but maybe too delicate. I thought about adding smaller sticks wrapped in decorative paper, bundling them around the main structure.


I gathered materials and started working on bits and pieces.

During one of our sessions we played outside, walking alongside a band member who grabbed lunch from Oasis, an Mediterranean restaurant down the street. I wore my new goon stick, but it still didn’t make much sound. So, I also took a tea canister with dried beans from the Public Space One garden. I was able to shake it and tap the tin bottom with a small stick.


I enjoyed wearing the goon stick and holding the shaker at the same time. I later embellished them with the papers I had gathered. It felt a bit overdone, but for some reason that felt like a good thing. A persona was starting to shape along with the instrument.


There is still more to be done. It’s a good thing I have December (or however long I so choose) to work on it. Until then, we, the THUGOONS, will continue to fashion together our materials and sounds.


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »


Iowa City Book Festival

Oct. 18-24

A celebration of books, writing and ideas

Find Out More


Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.