Kanealy to be enshrined on Wall of Witnesses in Friday ceremony

Mike Kanealy will have his image unveiled Friday at 4:30 p.m. as the newest member of the Soumas Court Wall of Witnesses in Perry. The public is invited to the ceremony and reception in the Towncraft Building, 1122 Willis Ave. in downtown Perry.

A new face on the Wall of Witnesses in Perry will be unveiled Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Craft Gallery, 1122 Willis Ave. in downtown Perry. The new relief will depict Michael Kanealy, owner and operator of Michael’s Pub for 25 years and a longtime supporter and promoter of Perry.

Michael's Pub served beer in frosted mugs for 25 years. Photo courtesy Larry Vodenik
Michael’s Pub served beer in frosted mugs for 25 years. Photo courtesy Larry Vodenik

Prior to opening his beloved pub, Kanealy farmed and worked at Oscar Mayer. He died Feb. 13, 2012, at age 74 and is buried in Violet Hill Cemetery.

The Perry Historic Preservation Commission called for nominations in mid-July and received 27, according to Commission President Gary Martin. The commission, with financing from Hometown Heritage, chose to honor Kanealy after he received the most votes among the nominees.

Each of the ceramic and earthenware bas-relief busts lining the southwest wall of Soumas Court in downtown Perry costs about $1,500 to produce. Newton artist Rick Stewart created the relief image of Kanealy.

Hometwon Heritage logoStewart is a figural sculptor with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Drake University. Before opening his own studio, Stewart was the master sculptor and mold maker for many years for RDG Studio in Des Moines, the David B. Dahlquist school responsible for other public art pieces in the downtown cultural district.

Stewart was a staff artist for Deaton Museum Studio in Newton early in his career, making museum exhibits for venues like the Smithsonian, St. Louis Arch, Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, Mount Rainier and Saudi Arabia. He now creates original sculptures and paintings and performs historical restorations for buildings and sculpture from his home studio.

Stewart crafted a bronze statue of U.S. Gymnastics star Shawn Johnson. Photo: WKOW.com
Stewart crafted a bronze statue of U.S. Gymnastics star Shawn Johnson. Photo: WKOW.com

A few of his pieces include the life-size bronze sculptures of Iowa Olympian Shawn Johnson and Des Moines North runner Clyde Duncan, and several bas-reliefs in The Iowa Hall of Pride.

“My art is based on a love of nature, the figure, history and the stories they tell when combined,” Stewart said. “A keen interest in materials, craftsmanship, and problem solving are the tools that help artists bring a concept into physicality.”

There will be light refreshments at the Friday unveiling, and the event is free and open to the public.


  1. Michael Kanealy deserves this and more. His like are few and far between. There have been at least three owners of his old place since he let it go, but it will always be Michael’s Pub to me. I arrived in Perry on a late morning in April of 1978. There was a dilapidated hotel, taxi stand and bus stop where the beer garden and party room are now. The bar still had the Kelly’s Corner signs up as Michael had acquired the place just a few months before. I was thirsty and needed to get my bearings after the bus ride from Ottumwa. Janet was the first person in Perry I ever met. She sold me a long-neck, Blue Ribbon beer. It wasn’t quite noon, but the place was already crowded and thick with cigarette smoke. I didn’t meet Mike until a few days later. I no longer drink, but I still fondly remember his company and those 35-cent frosty mugs of PBR during my first summer here. Those were good days.


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