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Anamosa remembers its most famous artist at RAGBRAI

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The God Bless America sculpture on display Thursday.
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A closeup view of the sculpture.
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Grant Wood, courtesy: Grant Wood Art Gallery

ANAMOSA, Iowa (KWWL) - Along with the live music, food vendors and beer gardens, there was one giant attraction at the day 5 RAGBRAI stop.

The Anamosa Chamber of Commerce rented God Bless America in June; a 25-foot tribute to Grant Wood's American Gothic. The sculpture will be in the city until at least May 2022. American Gothic is the iconic 20th century painting that shows a farming couple in traditional clothes with a pitchfork.

"We have a lot of history with Grant Wood here," LeeAnna Boone said, executive director of the chamber of commerce.

Wood was born in Anamosa in 1891. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago but returned to Iowa in his late 30s; painting American Gothic in Eldon in 1930. He was buried in Anamosa in 1942 after dying at the young age of 50.

"I had no idea he was from here," Fred Ordower said, who is from California but in Iowa for RAGBRAI.

The Chamber of Commerce is currently renting the 32,000 lbs. sculpture from the Seward Johnson Atelier Foundation. The original asking price to outright buy it was $880,000. Boone says they've been soliciting grants and negotiating over the past few months.

"The more we can share with people, the more they understand the significance of us keeping it and hopefully they'll want to help us do that," Boone said.

The Anamosa RAGBRAI Committee is raising money throughout the week to contribute to the fund. They got money from vendor permits, tickets to the beer garden and donations online.

Many riders hope the sculpture can stay in the city.

"I think if Anamosa had this statue, I think awareness of Iowa art might grow," Jason Brown said, an Iowa State alumnus living in Minneapolis.

You can contribute to the fund through Venmo, by sending money to @AnamosaGothic.

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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