Past Projects


Grant Wood Country Forum, founder/director—January 9, 2023 will mark the third year of this lively art-history-culture-creative-writing 9-week online free forum. Participants and observers experience opportunities to learn and converse, with all things Grant Wood and Grant Wood Country as muses. 

Grant Wood Country Chronicle, founder/editor—This publication, sponsored by the Cedar Rapids Public Library and offered free on a limited basis, is a wonderful opportunity for readers to experience the life and legacy of all things Grant Wood and Grant Wood Country, as revealed by those involved in the annual Grant Wood Country Forum online series.

PAST PROJECTS: Theatrical 

I have been fortunate to receive many opportunities to develop and stage original work, from short sketches to full-length presentations. Much of my work has benefitted enormously from the stellar musical compositions of John Mattingly. Below are descriptions. 

Sugar Grove Presents Dinner Entertainment Series— 

Wrote and co-produced  Sugar Grove Presents dinner entertainment series which featured carefully orchestrated theatrical, musical and culinary arts, all held in a Silos & Smokestacks National Park Service Heritage Attraction venue (Sugar Grove Gatheringplace, Newton, Iowa). For more than five years, the series entertained public and private groups. Offerings included: 

• House of Iowa: Real Iowa Ghost Stories Brought Back To Life, based on historical research conducted by Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk in their publication The Iowa Road Guide to Haunted Locations (by permission). A musical theatrical odyssey through the haunted Iowa landscape, as told through the experience of a pair of unsuspecting newlyweds. 

• Dog Days of Winter, a campy send-up of a Mississippi Riverboat excursion, complete with down-on-their-luck Southern belles, gamblers, and even Mark Twain, whose authentic text is woven into the adventure. 

• The Ghouls Next Door: Class warfare never was so macabre in this all-original musical comedy. Watch out for otherworldly neighbors, stolen art, spoiled children, romance and bells, bells, bells. 

• Magically Delicious, features the rich and playful traditions of Ireland, which run headlong into a generous helping of fairy-tale-laced musical farce. A combination of familiar Irish tunes frolick through the show alongside surprising parodies of pop & Broadway tunes. Expect the unexpected on this visit to the Emerald Isle! 

• Sugar Grove Babies, a fast-paced music and comedy romp offering up original and classic quick bits, sketches and musical numbers inspired by great vintage comic traditions like Laugh-In, Hee-Haw, Saturday Night Live, Carol Burnett, Vaudeville, and other variety show favorites. Enjoy myriad props, costumes and shenanigans. 

• Diners On the Storm: This parody show played to acclaim, largely due to the enduring dramatic quality of music by The Doors. When their theatrical sensibility converges with supernatural elements, it’s time to “Break On through to the Other Side.” Weird Al surely would approve. 

• The Raven’s Wrath. It’s time for the rest of the story. The prequel to the classic Poe poem went something like this, complete with classic rock send-ups set in the Wild West, and the still-alive Lenore. 


 • American Dream, a full-length original musical with environmental themes. Received Iowa Arts Council funding to be produced, in conjunction with a public education component, and a workshop by environmental artist Laurie Miles of Ipswich, Massachussettes. 

Emerging Spring, a revue show featuring original music and sketches, among other environmentally-themed fare. Included a piece entitled Nature Walk that was offered by high school speech students in competition. 

A Day In the Life of an Urban Tree, original sketch written for 2nd Annual Alliance for Community Trees Membership Conference. 

Trees In Any Language, served as lead writer/producer for this artful public education video project offered by Trees Forever. The project was nominated for three Iowa Film Awards (Writing/Producer, Music Score, Editing). It won one for Editing.


Elaine Dailey Mattingly was born and raised on the land of the Sauk, Meskwaki, and Ho-Chunk Native Nations—in an idyllic landscape now known by some as Grant Wood Country. She is descended of Irish, German, Czech, Swedish and Austrian immigrants, working class Democrats, Republican farmers, Quakers, Anabaptists, and Methodists. A published poet from Newton, Elaine writes for page, stage and musical projects. She gives presentations, facilitates forums and performs.  

Elaine moved to Chicago briefly, came back to east central Iowa, then settled in Newton, Iowa in 1997. She holds degrees in French Literature and Business from Cornell College with additional coursework from the Universities of Iowa and Iowa State in English and Education. Her poetry is published in the Continental Review (cinepoem), Lyrical Iowa, Wapsipinicon Almanac, Spoilage, 50 Haikus, and University of Iowa’s Daily Palette, and Telebooth Poems Iowa project. The public education documentary Trees In Any Language (a project of the nonprofit Trees Forever) was nominated for three Iowa Film awards (including Elaine as writer/producer). Elaine also wrote and co-produced Sugar Grove Presents dinner entertainment series in central Iowa from 2005-2010. She received Iowa Arts Council funding to produce a full-length original musical (book/libretto by Elaine; music by her composer/pianist husband John Mattingly). In the early 2000s, she founded the Jasper County Writers and Composers Forum, presented many authors and produced many events as co-operator of Mattingly Music & Books in Newton, Iowa. Recently, she facilitates and presents the Grant Wood Country Writers Forum (more information on the Grant Wood Country tab). 

Other experiences include developing training materials for a Fortune 500 company, communications coordinating for a statewide environmental nonprofit, co-operating an independent book and music store, coaching and judging high school speech program, instructing mentally and developmentally challenged children and adults, organizing and producing myriad community-based music and literary events and projects, volunteering as board member and lead organizer for blues festival, volunteering and sitting on board of community theatre as well as arts organization, providing educational services for sheltered and detained youth, teaching private piano lessons, waiting tables, walking beans and mowing lawns. She continues to work, write for page and stage, and enjoys participating in the lively central Iowa poetry and music scenes.