Monday, July 29, 2013

En Plein Air Rock Star

I think one of the best uses of an empty store front in my old home town was the development of a fine arts center. Oh, you should have heard the scoffers when that idea was presented! But wiser heads prevailed.
Corning has the only art center in Iowa with an Artist in Residency Program, complete with an apartment above the gallery.

The En Plein Air Festival has been part of the town's July summer celebration for eight years. It is my favorite part. I love to watch the artists painting in the open air then attend the judging at the Fine Arts Center. Hmm, I think I see the connection between my love of the impressionists and this local competition.

However, when we drove into the down town area Saturday, I was surprised to see a different open air artist, one who has become a true rock star, Ray, Bubba, Sorensen II. For several years he has been painting a large boulder north of Greenfield, Iowa to honor our military. It has come to be known as the Freedom Rock. 
Mr. Sorensen is now on a mission to paint a Freedom Rock in all of Iowa's ninety-nine counties. A feature on one side of the Adams County rock is the image of the first casualties from the county killed in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The young man at the top right was a member of the Class of '63 which is the one both my husband and my sister were in. I remember what a shock it was to hear that Ronnie Bunting had been killed. If you go to The Freedom Rock's Facebook page and look at Timeline Photos, you can see a photo of Ron's mother, 97-year-old Wilma Bunting, standing next to the rock.

The utopian French Icarians built one of the earliest settlements in Adams County. The colony thrived from 1853 until 1898 when it was disbanded and the land sold. I remember Sunday drives when I was a child going past some remaining buildings and being told they were once a part of the Icarian Colony. The school house was one of those buildings.

Several years ago a committee was formed to buy part of the land once farmed by the Icarians and rebuild it as a living history site. The school house and the dining hall have now been relocated to this area. My husband is a direct descendant of the Icarians on his Mother's side. His great-grandparents, Michael and Veronica Bronner joined the settlement about 1878. His grandmother, Nellie, was born there. I felt it was only appropriate to take his picture in front of the building.

As you can see from the blue of the sky, the weather was gorgeous - perfect for en plein air and all the weekend activities.

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