Artwork added to Grant Wood Scenic Byway

Addressing the public during the dedication on Oct. 6 were artist Cara Briggs Farmer (left) and Mallory Hanson, Northeast Iowa RC&D project coordinator.

On Oct. 6, the public attended a dedication of “Geared Up,” an art piece that stands tall in Anamosa along the Grant Wood Scenic Byway. Sixteen different works of art will decorate the scenic byways throughout Iowa. From left are scenic byway members Brad Hatcher, artist Cara Briggs Farmer, scenic byway coordinator Mallory Hanson, Dusty Embree, and Wayne Yanda. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Despite the rain Saturday morning, Oct. 6, members of the Scenic Byways organization held a dedication for the massive metal work of art that stands tall at the intersection of Main Street and Elm Street in Anamosa.

     Earlier this year, it was announced that Iowa Scenic Byways was bringing public art to the scenic byways throughout Iowa, a program called Byways of Iowa Public Art Initiative. The projects were made possible through a National Endowment for the Arts grant, which was secured by Northeast Iowa RC&D, working to partnership with the Byways of Iowa Foundation.

     “It’s a really big deal,” said Mallory Hanson, Northeast Iowa RC&D coordinator.

     Sixteen different art pieces will adorn the 10 scenic byways. The Grant Wood Scenic Byway, which travels through Jones County, will be home to several works of art, including that of the piece in Anamosa.

     Hanson offered, “This was a fun process in the beginning to identify what themes were about Anamosa. Those themes I think you’ll find are very well represented in this piece.”

     The artist of the Anamosa piece is Cara Briggs Farmer of Marion. Her work is titled “Geared Up.”

     “I came up here and I hung out in the area,” explained Farmer. “I realized there was a lot of motor traffic, so the scale needs to be big enough when driving past. How do we get Grant Wood and motorcycles to hang out together, and play well together?”

     The piece utilizes Wood’s “American Gothic” farmhouse window was the landmark. With the help of the National Motorcycle Museum, Farmer salvaged bike, auto and machine parts to incorporate into her work. Her goal was to honor Grant Wood while celebrating the area’s rich motorcycle heritage and landscape.

     “I started with Grant Wood’s iconic farmhouse window, and took from that the landscape that’s around here,” explained Farmer.

     Farmer used a motorcycle wheel to represent the sun in the upper left-hand corner of her piece. The bicycle handlebars in the upper right-hand corner represent a flock of birds. The crossed metal bars in the lower left depict rolling farm fields with crop rows. The various sizes of farm discs in the lower right with the bike chain represent trees along the Wapsipinicon River in Anamosa.

     “Our hope,” said Hanson, “is that this not only brings amazing public art to the community of Anamosa, but it also will bring folks here to visit and check out the art and spend time in the communities if they haven’t been before. That’s really the whole point of this: To bring art and visitors.”

     Farmer added, “The best thing about working on this was the really awesome support from the community. It’s the kind of support you don’t get in the city.”

     She said the people of Jones County should be proud of their community. “Be proud of your cohesiveness, and just be proud of yourselves. Be grateful for this great community you have.”



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