Way back when, in July, Randy, Roxy and I took a couple of days and drove to Des Moines, Iowa. Our Secret Squirrel Mission (SSM) took us directly into the downtown area of the city.
Being more country mouses than city folk, we weren't at all that excited about driving downtown. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, compared to craziness that is North Dallas traffic, we had no trouble finding where we were supposed to go.
After our mission was completed, we harnessed up Roxy and took a walk through the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.
The Sculpture Park has been open since the Fall of 2009.
'Nomade' by Jaume Piensa. A crouching, anonymous figure with a 'skin' composed of letters from the Latin alphabet.
The crouching figures in the sculpture are not part of the sculpture ...
It's me and Roxy the Dog!
The sculptures were donated by John and Mary Pappajohn. No connection at all to Papa John's Pizza. It is just a coincidence that Papa John's has an office in a building nearby.
'In the Morning' by Anthony Caro. This sculpture depicts a woman stepping into a bath.
'Post Balzac' by Judith Shea. This represents Honoré de Balzac, a famous French writer, wrapping himself in his writing robe. The robe being hollow is a metaphor for the condition of the spirit, for emptiness.
'Back of a Snowman' (White) and 'Back of a Snowman' (Black) by Gary Hume. Ah, the joke is on us. Because no matter how hard we looked, we couldn't find the front of the snowmen.
'Spider' by Louise Bourgeois. Ms Bourgeois has been using spiders in her work since the 1940s. She doesn't see spiders as the scary creatures that most of us do. She sees them as reflecting strength, yet showing fragility since they balance on their tiny feet.
'Thinker on a Rock' by Barry Flanagan. I thought this was a gremlin - but it actually is a rabbit. This is a light-hearted and humorous take on Auguste Rodin's 'The Thinker'.
The park was this amateur photographers heaven. Roxy was in her little bit of heaven, too. Randy, well, he was not as impressed with the park as he was in the outcome of the SSM. I get a kick out of Roxy's wet paw prints on the sidewalk here.
The park is on 4.4 acres in the middle of downtown Des Moines and has over twenty sculptures.
'T8' by Mark di Suvero. This artist composes his sculptures without any model - he jumps right in with a crane, a torch and a hammer. In this, you are supposed to see that the sculpture is firmly planted on the ground on it's four legs, yet see how it is tangled up as it goes up. It is painted in a bright red-orange to contrast with the sky.
I am pretty sure this sculpture was an afterthought. I cannot find any information on it at all. I will make an attempt at being artsy and note that the figures are painted in the three primary colors. What that means - if anything - is anyone's guess.
'air gets into everything even nothing' This is an exact replica of a still living 2000 year-old olive tree and made from aluminum and covered with white enamel. Can you say aluminum? Many people can't for some reason.
'MOONRISE. east. january' (foreground) 'MOONRISE. east. august' (background) These sculptures are two from a set of twelve each named for a month of the year. If I would have just gotten a bit closer to the front sculpture and got the back one just tilting his head out, now that would have been a good picture.
All three by by Ugo Rondinone.
'Decoy' by Martin Puryear. At first, this seems innocent, but as one looks at it further, one is supposed to get the feeling that something may be lurking under the metal plate.
A couple of things I find humorous about this. When we first came across it in the park, I actually thought it was a real manhole cover. I didn't say that out loud, though. The second thing is, that this picture that I took and the one that is in the park's brochure - pretty close to being identical.
A beautiful day, but very hot day at the park.
'Juno' and 'Ancient Forest' by Debora Butterfield. I can honestly say that I don't know which one is which. I think that 'Ancient Forest' is on the right. Both are based on real animals, and it took the artist two years to talk herself into starting on 'Ancient Forest'. 'Ancient Forest' is forthright and assertive and 'Juno' is bashful. Made from branches that are cast to form the armature, sticks are then attached to the armature until Ms Butterfield gets the gestures and demeanor that she wants. It is then disassembled so that the wooden pieces can be cast on bronze. It is then reattached to the armature and a patina is applied that represents the look and texture of wood.
'Seating for Eight' and 'Café Table l' by Scott Burton. Now on this one I know which is the seating and which is the table. Unless the artist did something untraditional and unexpected. This is the only sculpture in the park that you are allowed to touch. It is made from marble, and was designed to be a functional piece of art.
The park is run in connection with the Des Moines Art Center which is three miles west of the park. There are more sculptures on the grounds at the Art Center. I didn't get to go see and take pictures. Maybe on our next SSM to Des Moines.
I couldn't find any information on this scultpure. I am not even going to attempt a description ...
'White Ghost' by Yoshitoma Nara. This sculpture is one of two sculptures first displayed in New York City in September 2010. Made from fiberglass and steel, this sculpture is twelve feet tall and was brought to the Des Moines park in April of this year.
And one of these days, I'll tell you how the Secret Squirrel Mission went.
Have the BEST day ever!