Ahmanson legacy cherished in “Iowa Girl”

Kiley Wellendorf - Staff
The unveiling of the “Iowa Girl” took place at 5:30 p.m. at 3rd and Willis Blvd. on Saturday, Nov. 11. PHOTO BY KILEY WELLENDORF/THE PERRY CHIEF The streetscape honors Roberta Ahmanson’s efforts revitalizing buildings in the Perry community. The sculpture features an arts and crafts theme with “neon tube and glowing gemstone” color scheme. PHOTO BY KILEY WELLENDORF/THE PERRY CHIEF

The “Iowa Girl” sculpture was revealed to the public during the evening of Perry’s first night of Art on the Prairie on Saturday, Nov. 11. Paying tribute to Roberta Ahmanson, the second of the four-part sculpture series completed by sculptor John Brommel is located on the corner of 3rd and Willis Blvd.

The arts and crafts style-sculpture features color-changing lights once dark.

“It is accented with color-changing lighting that slowly progresses through the colors of the spectrum. The effect of this low intensity light with super-deep color saturation makes the aluminum appear somewhere between neon tube and glowing gemstone,” according to information from Art on the Prairie.

The official unveiling of the sculpture included speakers Mayor Jay Pattee, Bill Clark, and sculptor John Brommel.

“I personally have always enjoyed reading biographies of people who’ve done something really meaningful to others, something moving,” said John Brommel, sculptor. “To be able to create a piece to honor someone who’s done something so wonderful for your town - I’m humbled for the opportunity.”

“She started a lot of good things here and she gave us some incentive to go forward, then we had to take the ball and run,” said Mayor Jay Pattee during his introduction. “As best as we can, we’ve tried to do that.”

Roberta Ahmanson brought many buildings to life in Perry, during a time in which many were beginning to fall apart, Pattee commented.

“Stores were closing through the 80’s downtown, we had buildings that were falling into disrepair,” Pattee said.

Bill Clark, President at Fullhart Carnegie Charitable Trust, spoke on behalf of Roberta as she was unable to make the unveiling event.

“I think you will agree with me and the significant contribution they made to the community have been long lasting,” Clark noted before reading Roberta’s statement. “Not the least of those contributions was a Mayor Pattee said: we began to think differently of ourselves and about our potential, and about what small communities mean to American life.”

The Ahmanson moved towards the restoration of popular destinations in Perry: The Hotel Pattee, the Carnegie Library, Perry’s City Hall building, and the Town Craft Center, the Pattee houses on Warford and Willis, the reconfiguration arches on Soumas Court.

“This sculpture is a fitting way I think for us to say thank you to them for what they’re done, and again I thank all of you for what you’ve done to promote this, to help finance this, and to make come to life,” Clark said.

Clark read from a statement sent by Roberta about the honor in Perry.

“One thing I certainly never dreamed of growing up was that one day there would be a statue in my honor in Perry,” Roberta wrote. “I cherish the childhood I had. Parts of it were a challenge, but now I see those challenges as a gift. Well, though I wouldn’t have said so at the time.”

“Most of all I’m thankful that my parents and my Father’s grandparents passed on the Christian faith. Second, I’m more thankful for the education that was then possible in Perry’s Public Schools. There I learned to read and write and think. I learned to speak in public. I was grounded in history and in that class called Heritage, I was introduced to world culture: to art, to music, to world religions, to literature - all of this in a farming and railroad town in the middle of Iowa - a gift.”

“So it is with great honor to become a tangible part of this town’s corporate memory; whatever my husband and I were able to do here, the vision was first nurtured in my life in the Baptist Church, the Perry Public Schools, and the Carnegie Library. So thank you all, much more than I can say!! Roberta Green Ahmanson.”