Sculpture Park

Sculpture Park

To the east of Coon Rapids, visitors can enjoy a picnic among several unique sculptures at Roadside and Sculpture Park. Coon Rapids Development Group developed the idea of creating a Sculpture Park along Highway 141 to make visiting or living in Coon Rapids a more engaging and culturally exciting experience. The first five pieces of art in 2008 were commissioned to local artists and the project grew from there. More installments have been made over the years with sculptures made of weather resistant materials. In addition to the art, local gardeners have contributed to the park’s beauty by creating several flower gardens.


 17th Sculpture - August 2019
'Bike Arch'Bike arch
Artist: Denny Wurr
In July of 2019, RAGBRAI traveled through Coon Rapids. This bike arch was commissioned for the event and stood as a welcoming gateway to Coon Rapids for the 20,000 RAGBRAI riders who traveled through the community that day.  After the event, the arch was permanently installed at the Sculpture Park.
Irene16th Sculpture - August 2019
‘Irene’
Gift from Dubuque Museum of Art (DuMA)
Artist: Jamie Burmeister
The sculpture is a gift to Coon Rapids from the Dubuque Museum of Art (DuMA). Omaha Nebraska artist Jamie Burmeister created the sculpture along with a team of local artists and project assistants. The nearly 14-foot-high sculptural portrait depicts Irene, a Marshallese community member who came with her family to Dubuque in 2010. It is intended to bring awareness to the significant population of refugees from the Marshall Islands living in the Dubuque area. The sculpture was offered to the City of Coon Rapids by David Schmitz, DuMA’s Executive Director. According to Schmitz, the museum regularly obtains new sculptures and uses them to replace older ones. The older ones are given to deserving communities who have active public art programs.
Shadowcaster15th Sculpture-2016
‘Shadow Caster #1’
Artist: Ben Mason, Doug Carpenter
Shadow Caser #1 is constructed out of recycled steel donated by Scranton Manufacturing where they manufacture New Way refuse and garbage trucks. Doug Carpenter worked with Ben Mason of Scranton Manufacturing to obtain the steel. The sheet metal had pieces cut out to be used in the manufacturing of garbage trucks. The "skeleton" sheet is what remains. Local welder Denny Wurr improved its wind resistance by adding a metal frame. The sculpture is intended to cast an in ever-changing shadow as the sun moves from east to west during the day. There are three similar shadow casters installed along trails on Whiterock Conservancy land.
Spreading Joy14th Sculpture - April 2016
‘Spreading Joy’
Artist: Denny Wurr
Retired welder Denny Wurr of rural Coon Rapids collected and repurposed parts from old farm implements to manufacture "Spreading the Joy", which is actually a four-seat merry-go-round. Wurr credited his chief art instigator, Doug Carpenter of Coon Rapids, with naming the latest sculpture, in ref¬erence to the fact that it is made out of parts from an old IH manure spreader. Specifically, the main wheel and axel where the merry-go-around turns was off the spreader, then Wurr built the rest of it off the wheel.

Wurr's neighbor, Ronnie Lucht, gave Wurr permission to take the old manure spreader off his iron pile. Wurr got an old semi-rim off Gary Fell's scrap pile. And there's an auger on the top of the merry-go-around which Carpenter had found several years before. "There's just a few bolts that are new, and the rest is all repurposed iron," Wurr added. Wurr painted the old iron seats in colors to reflect the different farm equipment companies including John Deere, International Harvester and Allis-Chalmers.

Shaping the Landscape13th Sculpture - August 2014
‘Shaping the Landscape’
Artist: Matthew Farley
Farley's sculpture project took the better part of two years of conceptual thinking, design and fabrication. The art, which he calls "Shaping the Landscape", is constructed almost entirely from recycled materials, including angle iron from several dismantled windmills and around 1,800 plastic planter plates. Farley is a Wichita, KS, native and a 2008 art graduate from the University of Kansas with an emphasis on sculpture.

During his initial tour of Coon Rapids, Farley learned more about the area's agriculture. He learned how Iowa is a highly glaciated landscape, and how Coon Rapids, in particular, is flat north of town and hilly south of town thanks to the fact that the Des Moines lobe of the last Wisconsin glacier ended right here. His plow-shaped artwork is symbolic of the glacier.

As for the materials, Coon Rapids local Doug Carpenter, located and dismantled several abandoned windmills that could be harvested for their angle iron. “It always seemed a really appropriate material because of its symbolic nature of rural life, and its direct connection between water, earth and sky," explained Farley. Farley then cut, drilled and assembled the material into a geodesic-styled structure in the shape of a plow. He supplemented the angle iron with additional angle iron harvested from two windmills in Kansas plus some square tubing which he acquired from a salvage yard near his home in Lucas, KS.

Over 3,000 planter plates were then connected to each other with barbed wire, adding another iconic imagery layer to the finished structure. Planter plates are round, perforated plastic plates in the bottom of the hopper of a corn planter that sort out and release the correct amount of seed to be dropped at regular intervals. At one time the local Garst & Thomas Hybrid Seed Company had huge inventories of planter plates for distribution to their customers but they eventually became obsolete and were stored away in big wooden crates. The Garst family had held on to the seed plates for several decades, hoping to repurpose them in some fashion.

"Part of 'Shaping the Landscape' is thinking about the effects of the last glacier that came and stopped, and thinking what it did for the agriculture of the region," said Farley "Then not just looking back but looking forward, asking what will be the effects of agriculture on today's and tomorrow's glaciers?”

In addition to the $8,900 Iowa Arts Council grant, Creating Great Places added $3,572 and local volunteers contributed labor valued at approximately $6,000. Farley had more than 1,000 hours of work on the project.
Tractor 1020 IH12th Sculpture - May 2013
‘1020 IH Tractor’
Artist: Denny Wurr
Local resident, Denny Wurr, delivered a "1020 IH Tractor" to the Sculpture Park in May 2013. It’s meant to be climbed on and played on. According to Wurr, it proved to be a real kid magnet. Wurr received $250 from local nonprofit Creating Great Places. The funds, received through an Iowa Mutual Tornado grant were intended to at least partially fund materials for the sculpture. Wurr had a vision for the sculpture based on using four antique manure spreader wheels. Unfortunately, the wheels that were located in a fence row had been overgrown by mulberry trees including a large one that had grown through the spokes of one of the larger wheels. Wurr and friends managed to cut the wheels free and move them to his shop. Using them as a starting point, Denny designed and built the tractor.
11th Sculpture - September 2012
Charred Tree Trunk (Destroyed by Nature)
Artist: Doug Carpenter
12-foot high charred tree trunk discovered by Doug Carpenter in a burned pine grove just south of Highway 141 and Fig Ave. According to Carpenter it reminded him of sculptures produced by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), a Swiss sculptor and painter, who trained in Italy and Paris. In the1930s, in his Surrealist period, he began to develop his characteristic spindly constructions. His mature style of emaciated single figures, based on wire frames, emerged in the 1940s. Carpenter organized friends to cut the tree down and move it to his garage. Here he treated it with epoxy wood preservative and drilled holes in the base in order to insert several one-inch steel pipes. On Sunday, August 23, Carpenter organized a group including his daughter Alison, Kevin Johnson (a Des Moines artist who recently moved to Coon Rapids), Doug and Bev Ramsey, Charlie Nixon and Laura Lake, and Dan Bounds to install the charred tree trunk in a four foot concrete base.
Stick Stack10th Sculpture - September 2012
‘Stick Stack’
Artist: Doug Carpenter, Alison Carpenter, Kevin Johnson
"Stick Stack" makes use of leftover wood from a Washing¬ton, DC contractor Jason Dorpinghaus's who was born and raised in Coon Rapids. The sticks are 1 by 1-inch-high density Brazilian Walnut. After trying several different designs, the team decided on stacking the sticks around a vertical 4 by 4 post embedded in concrete. Shadows cast by the sticks continually change as the sun moves across the sky creating interesting images throughout the day.







The Dancers9th Sculpture - September 2011
'The Dancers’
Artist: Zach Bowman
Two new art sculptures were installed in September 2011 by Glidden-Ralston High School graduate Zach Bowman. At that time, Zach was a senior art student at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
'The Dancers’ was crafted from steel channel which was intended to slow rust into a rich brown coating.




Where I Come From8th Sculpture - September 2011
‘Where I Come From’
Artist: Zach Bowman
Two new art sculptures were installed in September 2011 by Glidden-Ralston High School graduate Zach Bowman. At that time, Zach was a senior art student at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Bowman had family ties to Coon Rapids (son of Ron and Nancy Bowman and grandson of George Bowman). The sculpture was originally on display outside the UNI art building. Bowman said he took shapes that are historically significant to the Coon Rapids community.

"I found that the first big business in Coon Rapids was the saw mill, so the bottom rectangular shape represents a piece of timber. One end has the tree rings and the other appears to have been broken. The X cross member piece holding everything up was inspired by an old barn door, which I thought appropriate to make it look as if it were constructed out of two-by-fours because of the saw mill reference. Next, CR is rich in farming so I fabricated an antique style plow. The top of the plow transitions into a large rounded object (which represents a wagon wheel). I got this idea because Coon Rapids was a stop between Des Moines and Sioux City for the stage coach service. Last is the piece that the plow is peeling off. That is the "Coon Rapids Enterprise" which has been a huge part of the town; in the beginning this was the only way to inform the residence of the news and events. In the end I pulled out historical items I thought were interesting and relevant to the town, altered the shapes and combined them in a way that to me is interesting to look at."
Henry’s Dinosaur7th Sculpture - August 2010
'Henry’s Dinosaur’
Artist: Henry Pedersen and Clayton Heck
Created in 1995 by Henry Pedersen and re-furbished by Clayton Heck 2010

In 1995, Henry Pedersen unveiled his Tyrannosaurus Rex sculpture which he carefully crafted from parts salvaged from his junk pile. For many years afterwards, the T-Rex creature roamed the front yard of Henry and Betty Pedersen's rural home seven miles south of Coon Rapids on Chestnut Road, earning its reputation as a well-known land¬mark, especially thrilling the kids riding by on the school bus.

Then in August 2010, the T-Rex moved to its new home at the Sculpture Park east of Coon Rapids, where it joined a growing collection of art sculptures. So how did T-Rex find its new home?

Before Henry Pedersen died in 2009, he had already sold his farm ground to longtime friends and tenants, Evan and Karen Heck of rural Coon Rapids. The elderly Danish-farmer and WW 2 veteran still worried about his farm machinery and shop tools. When he became too sick to organize a farm auction, he sold everything to the Hecks, including the T-Rex.

That was exciting news to then-12-year-old Clayton Heck, who had always called the sculpture, "Henry's Dinosaur."

This was about the time that Doug Carpenter of Coon Rapids was promoting Roadside Park as a sculpture garden so the Hecks came up with an idea- have Clayton fix up and repaint Henry's dinosaur as a 4-H project and then donate it to the Sculpture Park’s Art-in-the-Park collection Fifteen years of exposure to the elements had left Henry's dinosaur in need of some cosmetic restoration. Clayton learned how to sandblast, weld and paint in the process of restoring the dinosaur

"I worked with the sandblaster for about ten hours all together and still discovered more to do," wrote Clayton in his official 4-H report which garnered him a blue ribbon award at the Iowa State Fair. "There were some loose parts, so Dad showed me how to weld. Welding is hard but interesting. I found out that painting is hard too. It's hard to get all the round places and the hidden parts covered."

"We think Henry would like this - both my learning new skills and donating it (the sculpture) to the community" added Clayton.
6th Sculpture - October 2009
‘Wind Mask’ (Destroyed by Nature)
Artist: Donna (Smouse) Hughes
Donna (Smouse) Hughes often traveled to Coon Rapids to visit her father Jake Smouse who resided at Thomas Rest Haven. In October 2009, Donna and her husband Steve had an additional reason for a visit. They installed a sculpture created in the Roadside Park Sculpture Park. The 12inch high carved wood sculpture created by Donna is a replica of a Cayuga Whirlwind Mask. Her design is based on an image from Joseph Campbell's Way of the Seeded Earth. It is said that a whirlwind mask was hung on a tree on the side facing approaching storms in order to ward off severe storms. Or, if necessary it was ac¬tually hurled at an approaching storm, to divert it.

The mask, mounted on a tree in the central grassy area of the park may not affect the weather. However, it does make a colorful addition to the other sculptures located in the park.
Golf Club Windmill5th Sculpture- August 2009
‘Golf Club Windmill’
Artist: Allen Bukoff
The first five installments in the Sculpture Park, including this one, were funded, in part, by the Coon Rapids Development Group and a grant obtained by Community Insurance Agency through Iowa Mutual Tornado (IMT). Each of the four artists received $100 to defray the cost of materials to create their sculptures.

The fifth and final art sculpture commissioned in 2008 by the Coon Rapids Development Group was erected August 2009 by Allen Bukoff of Detroit, Ml. Funded by a grant obtained by Community Insurance Agency through Iowa Mutual Tornado (IMT), each of the five artists received $100 to defray the cost of materials for their sculptures. Bukoff waited until he was in Coon Rapids for his Class of 1969 40th year reunion. His installation is called ‘Golf Club Wind-mill’ and was constructed using an old farm wind¬ mill and golf clubs which once belonged to notable golfers who honed their game on the Coon Rapids Colf Club. Bukoff's father, Sam Bukoff, was a longtime high school golf coach here.
Charlie the Praying Mantis4th Sculpture - June 2009
‘Charlie the Praying Mantis’
Artist: Jacob Evans and Earl Lee Phelps
The first five installments in the Sculpture Park, including this one, were funded, in part, by the Coon Rapids Development Group and a grant obtained by Community Insurance Agency through Iowa Mutual Tornado (IMT). Each of the four artists received $100 to defray the cost of materials to create their sculptures.



The Steel Post Bush3rd Sculpture - June 2009
‘Steel Posts Don't Grow On Trees’
Artist: Doug Carpenter
This exhibit was renamed ‘The Steel Post Bush’ when it was moved and reinstalled due to construction of bridge in 2016. 
The first five installments in the Sculpture Park, including this one, were funded, in part, by the Coon Rapids Development Group and a grant obtained by Community Insurance Agency through Iowa Mutual Tornado (IMT). Each of the four artists received $100 to defray the cost of materials to create their sculptures.



Essence of Coon Rapids2nd Sculpture - June 2009
‘Essence of Coon Rapids’
Artist: Ian Carter
The first five installments in the Sculpture Park, including this one, were funded, in part, by the Coon Rapids Development Group and a grant obtained by Community Insurance Agency through Iowa Mutual Tornado (IMT). Each of the four artists received $100 to defray the cost of materials to create their sculptures.








Farm Parade1st Sculpture - June 2009
‘Farm Parade’
Artist: Denny Wurr
The first five installments in the Sculpture Park, including this one, were funded, in part, by the Coon Rapids Development Group and a grant obtained by Community Insurance Agency through Iowa Mutual Tornado (IMT). Each of the four artists received $100 to defray the cost of materials to create their sculptures.
      Doug Carpenter

      Doug Carpenter

      Doug Carpenter was born on February 27, 1944 and grew up in Coon Rapids. After graduating from Coon Rapids High School in 1962, he earned an electrical engineering degree from Antioch College in Ohio. He served in the United States Air Force for 20 years at various bases around the country, and then took a job with the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington DC, managing nation-wide projects. After his final retirement in 2004, Doug and his wife, Penny, moved back to his hometown where he quickly became a community leader. He led the local economic development group and was instrumental in achieving the town’s designation as Iowa’s first Great Place. He led public art efforts by obtaining several grants for art, organized a successful art show for several years, and created and installed his own art installations which transitioned into this Roadside Sculpture Park. In his last 18 years of living, Doug was truly at home in Coon Rapids. He died in January 20, 2022. His legacy and impact on the community will be everlasting.


       
       
       
       

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