I might not normally make a trip just to see one sculpture, but in the case of Reinald Correa's "Prairie Revival," I will make an exception. The City of Marion commissioned Correa, a lecturer in architecture at Iowa State University in Ames, to make a signature statement for a gateway sculpture for its already fantastic Lowe Park Arts and Environment Center. (Marion just really kicked the public art game up a notch. What Iowa city wants to make the next move?) Heading northeast on a recent trip to Bellevue and Maquoketa, I first stopped at Lowe Park. This destination got my day off to a rousing start.
Correa described the technical challenges for making this beautiful piece: "When dealing with artwork of this scale, it takes a lot of heavy equipment to handle the piece. Due to the spiral nature of the work, for feasibility purposes, we also built it on its side, which added another level of complexity. Because the design had compound curves and several changes in the spiral radii — which meant making the steel bend in two completely different directions while also twisting it — the fabrication process was more complex. We were dealing with very tight tolerances in relationship to the minimal footing design. Finally, when it came to painting the artwork, there was a very varied color palette, which meant a lot of time spent isolating and taping effectively the transition from one color to the other."
The sculpture's core is a 14-foot-high spiral and is adorned with 20-foot-high cattails and stencils of the American Goldfinch, Goatweed Leafwing butterfly, Big Bluestem, Sky Blue Aster, and Prairie Indian Plantain. To call this work an "homage to the prairie" seems an understatement.
I've yet to see it at night. But lit by LED spotlights, I'm sure the sight is spectacular.
Though the winter months are upon us, there are still great trails at Lowe Park to walk or bike. This sculpture will surely look splendid in the snow.
The park is on the north edge of Marion. You might want to head south to Uptown Marion to reflect on your art walk at Wit's End or Uptown Snug. Cozied in there, you can tip your glass in a toast to Marion and it's love for art and the rich Iowa landscape.
Photo: Patrick Muller