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A Sculpture Garden With a Sense of Humor

Updated on June 19, 2012

Smiling Mass of Metal

one of three moonrise pieces by Ugo Rondinone
one of three moonrise pieces by Ugo Rondinone | Source

About Des Moines

Des Moines is a pleasant, fast-growing center located in the heart of the Midwestern Corn Belt, a on the Des Moines River in central Iowa. The river is quite nice and is worth a visit, just to walk beneath the giant cottonwoods, which grow along its banks in various places. The state capitol is located here and you can find in sitting on top of a large hill, just east of the river. Cross the river and you come to the downtown area, which includes the Des Moines Art Center and the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden.

The sculpture takes up two large city blocks, 4.4 acres to be exact, and includes 27 free-standing pieces of art. The artwork is valued at 40 million, which adds up to an average of over a million dollars for each piece. The garden was only recently installed in 2009 and by all accounts seems to add a lot to the downtown area of Iowa's capitol. The collection was donated by John and Mary Pappajohn, who are real estate developers, operating in the downtown area. A walk through the garden is well worth the time invested and should reveal a fine-tuned taste in art with a well-developed even offbeat sense of humor.

Ode To Haring

Untitled Metal Sculpture (Three Dancing Figures, Version C) by Keith Haring
Untitled Metal Sculpture (Three Dancing Figures, Version C) by Keith Haring | Source

Tale of a Short Career

Keith Haring was an American pop-style artist, who died in 1990 at age 32 from complications due to AIDS. Keith began his art career in NYC during the late 70s by creating chalk drawings on the walls of the city subway system. Since his artwork was non-permanent, the young artist was able to claim ownership without legal questions arising and thus eventually established gallery connections in the city. During his short lifespan, the Pennsylvania native produced a huge amount of drawings and paintings. Since his early death, some of his visual concepts have been converted to sculpture. These results can be seen in many public places around the globe including the sculpture park in Des Moines.

Woman In White

White Ghost by Yoshitomo Nara
White Ghost by Yoshitomo Nara | Source

Hare Immortalized

ThinkeronaRock by Mark di Suvero
ThinkeronaRock by Mark di Suvero | Source

Defining Point

One of the focal points of the outdoor installation is a metal sculpture, titled Nomade. The sculptor is named Jauma Plensa, a Spanish sculptor,who specializes in large public sculpture. The white sculpture made from letters, towers high over the numerous visitors that walk up to its base. This piece is by far the largest piece in the park, as it is visible for blocks away and adds a nice introspective touch to the downtown area.

Man of Letters

“Nomade” by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa
“Nomade” by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa | Source


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    • M K Paul profile image

      M K Paul 5 years ago from India

      Nice try..Some uncommon thought...