Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
A Mt. Pleasant artist is doing her part to spread a message of peace.
Since last winter, Annie Guldberg has been painting and selling “peace poles.”
“In the winter, there was a customer here in Mt. Pleasant who reached out and asked if I could make them a peace pole,” Guldberg said. “I started learning about what they are, and it’s taken off from there.”
Peace poles originated in Japan in the 1950s. They are poles of varying heights and designs that contain the message, “May peace prevail on earth” — sometimes referred to as a “peace prayer” — in the native language of the country in which they are placed.
According to the World Peace Prayer Society, more than 200,000 peace poles have been placed around the world.
“It’s a worldwide movement, and I’m just one tiny little part,” Guldberg said. “I’m one little cog in the wheel of peace poles around the world.”
After creating her first peace pole, Guldberg decided to see if there was more interest.
“From there it just kept going,” she said. “I made a flyer and started sharing it. Once I finish the ones I have here, I will have created 34. I have the last ones in progress in my garage right now.”
Guldberg creates her peace poles using wooden fence posts that she purchase from Mt. Pleasant Lumber.
“If I need them cut, they cut them for me,” she said. “It’s been a really great way to incorporate another local business into the process.”
She uses 4-inch-by-4-inch and 6-inch-by-six-inch posts in two heights: 8 feet and 6 feet.
Guldberg, a full-time artist who works out of a studio in her home, is recognized for using bright, vibrant colors in her paintings.
She incorporates that into her peace pole designs.
“One of the things that I do with a lot of my art is a spectrum color scheme,” she said. “If you look up peace poles online, a lot of them are white.
“I went with one of the things that’s really recognizable about my work, which is really vibrant colors.”
Sometimes, customers will ask for specific customized messages to be included on their poll, which Guldberg includes along with the traditional peace pole message.
She incorporates some of her own designs into the peace poles.
“I’ve also incorporated some patterns and designs that I use in a lot of my work,” she said. “Another recognizable thing about my oil paintings is a lot of swirls. I’ve incorporated olive branches, dove of peace, hearts and depending on the customer, a cross.”
Guldberg is quick to point out that the peace poles are not, in any way, a political message.
“It’s definitely a non-political message of peace,” she said. “It’s not one side or another. It’s a message for everyone.
“I didn’t want to make this about me in any way, so 5 percent of all my peace pole sales I’ve donated to the Fellowship Cup in Mt. Pleasant.”
Her poles sell for $200-$350 depending on the size. While a lot of the peace poles are custom ordered, there are some stocked at the Vintage Raven in Mt. Pleasant and at Bloom and Bark in Keosauqua.
Guldberg admitted that she is somewhat surprised by how popular her peace poles have become.
“It’s gone a lot farther than I thought it would,” she said. “I kind of expected that, after the first peace pole was installed, there would be a few other people who would reach out and want one. It’s kept going.”
Her work is spreading beyond the Mt. Pleasant area as well.
“To my knowledge, they’ve spread to Des Moines, Iowa City, the Chicago area and someone ordered two and took them down to Florida,” she said. “It’s been really rewarding to be part of that message of peace, which I think everyone would agree is needed right now.”