Last Saturday evening, once the Art on the Prairie festivities had concluded for the day, the focus shifted to the corner of Willis Avenue and 3rd Street for the unveiling of the second of the four Streetscape sculptures.
“The Iowa Girl” was dedicated to Roberta Ahmanson, who was a central figure in the restoration and revitalization of downtown Perry, and helped usher in a new artistic culture in the City. It’s that growing arts scene which inspired sculptor John Brommel’s design for “The Iowa Girl.” The sculpture uses motifs from the Arts and Crafts Period, which are still heavily used at the Hotel Pattee. As Ahmanson was largely responsible for saving the hotel, Brommel felt the design was appropriate.
An individual who worked with Ahmanson a lot over the years was Bill Clark, who was on hand for the unveiling and lighting of the newest Streetscape sculpture. Because Ahmanson was unable to attend the ceremony, Clark was chosen to give a speech and flip the switch. He also read a message Ahmanson had given him: “‘One thing I certainly never dreamed of growing up was that one day there would be a statue in my honor in Perry. I cherish the childhood I had. Parts of it were a challenge, but now I see those challenges as a gift, though I wouldn’t have said so at the time. So thank you all, much more than I could say — double exclamation point — Roberta Green Ahmanson.”
Clark then turned on the sculpture’s lights, which were designed by Mike Lambert, and the street corner was bathed in cool blues and greens. The colors contrasted nicely with the warm reds and oranges emanating from the other end of the block, where the first Streetscape sculpture, “Born of Fire,” is currently standing. There will be two more sculptures added within the next year, each honoring an aspect of Perry’s history that helped it become the City it is today. Raccoon Valley Radio’s Chris Cohea served as the emcee for the event, along with the Big Red Radio.