Perry to be steamrolled by art this Saturday

The Perry steamroller

Steamroller art will roll through Perry Saturday morning with a chance for people of all ages to make personal portraits of Perry that will eventually became part of a citywide public art exhibition.

The steamroller art project will start with a workshop in wood block printing and printmaking sponsored by the city of Perry and the Iowa State University College of Design. Jennifer Drinkwater, senior lecturer in the ISU department of integrated studio arts, will be on hand Saturday to demonstrate the process of carving and printing.

“We encourage everyone attending to bring an image, photograph or drawing that represents Perry in some way,” Drinkwater said. “We will distribute materials to anyone who wants to participate. We will also provide a detailed handout with instructions and examples that folks can take home with them,” she said.

Jennifer Drinkwater by Jennifer Drinkwater
Jennifer Drinkwater by Jennifer Drinkwater

Drinkwater will bring enough materials for 25 people. “This Saturday will be about giving information, demoing, and handing out materials, so people will not likely actually work on their own pieces all that much,” she said.

Drinkwater will return in May with students from the ISU Print Club to host a free, public steamroller printing event, and the results–printed fabric and carved wood blocks–will be used as public art for Perry.

“One of the distinguishing strengths of Perry seems to be its unity among diversity, as many different populations build community,” Drinkwater said. “Rather than carving a large single image, participants could carve individual self-portraits, portraits of community members or even landscape ‘portraits’ on 16-inch-square pieces of fiberboard that could be fabricated together both for printing and for a larger sign. The end result would look similar to a grid of faces,” she said.

Betsy Peterson, a prominent Perry artist and a lead organizer of the annual Art on the Prairie event, was enthusiastic about the steamroller art project. “I think it sounds like a really great project,” she said.

City Administrator Butch Niebuhr said he hopes Perry’s numerous local merchants and local artists get on board. “It would be our intention to work with local retailers to acquire the supplies for the project by donation or purchase here in Perry,” Niebuhr said.

“Right now we are not certain how we will use the completed art pieces,” Niebuhr said. “A couple of ideas have been to make them the size of the banner arms on the light fixtures in downtown, frame them in weatherproof frames for display in the downtown or create a larger billboard of the pieces to install in the downtown or on the trail system.  This can be decided by the artists themselves as the project progresses,” he said.

“I hope everyone in Perry considers being a part of the project. Wouldn’t that be something?”

Alan Lenz, president of Wiese Industries in Perry and a longtime supporter of public art, said the steamroller art project sounds like fun. “I’m thinking about doing something with the old bank clock,” Lenz said, humming a few bars of an old Chicago song that shows he is a true child of the 1970s.

“We do hope to have the Perry High School Art Department take a part in this event,” Niebuhr said. “I hope they consider being a part of the project, and I hope everyone in Perry considers being a part of the project. Wouldn’t that be something?”

The steamroller art workshop runs from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at La Poste, 1219 Warford St. “This would be a great family activity before or after eating pancakes at the 62nd annual Kiwanis Pancake Festival,” said Kiwanis member Doug Wood. The pancake festival starts at 6 a.m. Saturday and runs all day at the Perry Elks Lodge, 2823 Willis Ave.



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