Anamosa works to bring ‘American Gothic’ home

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Jones County is often referred to as “Grant Wood country.” The famed artist, best known for his work “American Gothic,” grew up in the Anamosa area. He attended school outside of Anamosa, where the schoolhouse sits today on Highway 64. He started the Stone City Art Colony, which took place in the early 1930s.

     With so much local claim to fame, it only makes sense to bring the 25-foot tall “American Gothic” statue to Jones County.

     The project is led by Anamosa Chamber Director LeAnna Boone and local business owner KC Wortman.

     Boone said she received an e-mail from David Heiar with the Jackson County Economic Alliance. Heiar is also the coach for the Anamosa and Monticello Home Town Pride committees, of which Boone is active with.

     “He asked if Anamosa would be interested in the statue and it went from there,” shared Boone.

     Heiar also contacted Jones County Economic Development. Wortman’s husband Doug sits on the economic development board.

     “I tried to get the statue here when I was chamber director,” said Wortman, “but it was took expensive and we backed away.”

     Wortman said it’s going to be her mission to finally see the “American Gothic” statue in Anamosa.

     The statue, named “God Bless America,” will cost $20,000 to display from the time it arrives in mid-June for up to 10 months. Wortman said the funding does not have to be paid right away, just before it leaves Jones County. They can also pay in installments.

     While there has been some speculation as to whether the statue is arriving, Boone said for certain it’s a go!

     “We can keep it longer if there is no place for it go once it leaves here,” she said.

     So far, funding has come from a variety of sources. The Anamosa City Council gave $5,000. The newly renovated Grant Wood Art Gallery gave $1,000. The Anamosa Chamber donated $3,000. A GoFundMe account, which was created by Boone in early April, has raised $1,300 as of April 30. The goal with the GoFundMe account is set at $20,000.

     “We are pleased with the amount that’s been raised in just three weeks,” said Wortman “We’ve had great public reception.”

     Boone said she'll be grabbing a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop and people will hand her donations for the statue.

     Wortman, who owns Thou Art Gallery in Anamosa, is organizing a dinner and art auction on June 9 at the National Motorcycle Museum. The proceeds from the event and art auction will go toward the efforts to bring the statue to Anamosa.

     “KC has been a huge help,” praised Boone.

     She said something like this would definitely help attract attention to downtown Anamosa, and Jones County as a whole. Local hotels, businesses/shops and restaurants will all reap the benefits.

     “Anamosa is a destination place,” said Wortman. “We want to really draw people to Grant Wood country to see all of the opportunities Jones County has to offer.” Wortman said it’s not just a project for Anamosa, but for Monticello and Jones County.

     While the erection site for the statue has not been finalized, Boone said they know they need an area that provides plenty of parking and space for people to gather and take pictures.

     “We’re looking at some place along Main Street,” said Wortman.

     One noticeable difference between the statue and the Grant Wood painting is the addition of a giant suitcase that sits at the couple’s feet. The stickers on the suitcase represent all of the places jobs in the U.S. have been outsourced to, including: India (IND) and China.

     If you wish help bring “American Gothic” home, on-going donations are being accepted at the Anamosa Chamber, 121 E. Main St., Anamosa, IA 52205. Call the chamber at 319-462-4879 for more details.

     “Jones County needs this,” urged Wortman. “It seems appropriate to have it here because of the local history with Grant Wood.”



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