One of the things that impressed us about Perry, Iowa, was its obvious dedication to the arts and literature. This was obvious as soon as we arrived at Hotel Pattee. Most of the larger paintings throughout the hotel were done by Gary Earnest Smith whose work largely depicts agrarian and western themes. One painting, which we believe is titled The Aunts, spoke to us because it felt like our beloved aunts could have stepped off the canvas. Mr. Smith will be in Perry on September 22nd to speak to school children and then participate in an evening ‘Meet the Artist’ event at Hotel Pattee.
The Soumas Courtyard, located on the east side of Hotel Pattee features a gateway called Reconfiguration by renowned metal sculptor, Albert Paley. The impressive installation is composed of found objects which reflect the history of Perry. A life-sized sculpture of George Soumas, a WWII veteran, is located within the courtyard, and plaques honoring beloved Perry citizens decorate the ivy covered brick walls.
The courtyard is open to the public and also the location for weddings, birthday parties, concerts and other fun events.
During our stroll of downtown Perry, we were very fortunate to meet several ladies who are very involved in the Perry art scene. Betsy Peterson of Betsy Peterson Designs welcomed us to her studio and shop gallery located at 1121 2nd Street in Perry. Betsy creates whimsical sculptures, painted wooden wall art, painted furniture and whatever else catches her imagination. Her airy gallery is also the site of art classes. We found her to be warm and thoughtful, and if the books on her shelves are any indication, we would love to have her for a friend if we lived in Perry.
Mary Rose, proprietor of The Mary Rose Collection at 1215 Warford Street seemed to be a human dynamo. Her shop, filled with antiques, art and gifts, is located in the former telephone exchange building. Beth Ann purchased a marvelous vintage sterling ice bucket/wine cooler for an unbelievable bargain price.
I found miniature Swedish tree ornaments to add to my collection of tiny European ornaments. Mary Rose graciously left her shop to take us next door to see the fabulous La Poste. A group of friends had the foresight, vision and fortitude to turn the former post office into a gallery and location for wonderful events. Light streamed through the massive arched windows reminding me of Soho galleries and studios.
The lower level of La Poste has been fashioned into a charmingly eclectic space called The Cellar. Every type of social event has been celebrated in the The Cellar, and music is plentiful at its weekly Thursday evening Handlebar Happy Hours. My favorite room was the Coal Room as it reminded me of an Irish Pub.
In addition to art classes and presentations throughout the year, Perry is the location for Art on the Prairie. This year’s event will take place on November 12th and 13th. The event celebrates visual arts, music and poetry. The list of this year’s featured artists is impressive. We have put attending the event on our wish list.