Construction Begins on Gateway Public Art Project in Grinnell

May 21, 2020

Located at the southeast corner of state Highways 146 and 6, the new gateway public art project is intended to welcome people to the community by commemorating Grinnell’s history and celebrating its intersecting lives and histories. This project was first initiated in 2016, and the final work will feature ornate wooden structures that echo the walls of homes and a carriage house that originally stood at this site. The paths in the small park are reminiscent of the walkways on the Grinnell College campus, where students have crossed paths for generations. 

“This piece, ‘Grinnell Crossroads,’ is an exciting opportunity to take a long-vacant lot and bring it back to life in a way that celebrates what is special about Grinnell,” said Raynard Kington, president of Grinnell College.  “J.B. Grinnell chose to build his town here where the railroads would cross. Grinnell always has been a place where people could connect to the larger world while still being part of a close community. The artist’s vision was to celebrate these connections and crossings. Located at the main entry to town, we hope the piece will invite residents and visitors alike to explore the heritage of the community in a new and different way.”

The project was designed by artist Walter Hood, 2019 winner of a MacArthur “genius” grant and numerous other awards. To design the piece, the artist researched Grinnell’s past, including a visit to the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma and review of historic plot maps. He also reviewed aerial photos of Grinnell at present and visited the community to meet with numerous groups and individuals, including Grinnell College faculty, staff, and students, the Grinnell Area Arts Council, the Grinnell Tourism Committee, the City of Grinnell, Grinnell Chamber of Commerce, and a Grinnell College Modern Architecture class led by professor Alfredo Rivera.

Construction on the site will continue for the next several weeks, as landscaping continues and portions of the sculpture arrive on-site for installation. Residents and visitors to Grinnell will be able to explore the piece in person beginning early this summer.

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