It’s been a great run, but the God Bless America monumental sculpture will be de-installed in downtown Elkhart next week.
The iconic sculpture leaves behind fond memories for many thousands of Elkhart County residents and visitors who saw the one-of-a-kind exhibition that was the product of collaboration across all of the county’s cities and towns.
“(God Bless America’s) presence brought new faces to our downtown and facilitated the type of engagement we want to see at Central Park,” said Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese. “What I have appreciated most is watching families and friends taking photos, talking, laughing, and most importantly, enjoying being a part of this vibrant community.”
Starting around 7:30 a.m. Monday, June 11, workers will begin dismantling the 25-foot tall, 27,000-pound sculpture that pays homage to Grant Wood’s famous painting, American Gothic.
Areas of Central Park in downtown Elkhart, where the sculpture is located, will be cordoned off for safety as crew members do their work. Spectators are welcome to watch from anywhere else in the vicinity.
The gigantic sculpture was one of 57 sculptures created by artist Seward Johnson on display throughout Elkhart County in the summer of 2017. The other 56 sculptures were life-sized and placed throughout the downtowns of Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Bristol, Middlebury and Wakarusa that connected the sculptures with the Quilt Gardens exhibit.
“I want to thank the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau for making this possible and look forward to future opportunities to enhance our public spaces,” Neese said. The ECCVB sponsored the Seward Johnson sculptures exhibition as well as the ongoing Quilt Gardens, which recently opened its 11th season at 18 sites.
“The Quilt Gardens and sculptures showed us all how important public art is to the life of a community,” said Diana Lawson, chief executive of the ECCVB. “Art is a delight for everyone, for residents and visitors, and helps us appreciate what we have in Elkhart County that much more.”
The ECCVB worked with community partners from all over Elkhart County, including tourism and hospitality businesses, municipal government offices, elected officials, arts groups and community volunteers. The downtowns and Quilt Gardens experienced significant increases in visitors. The ECCVB distributed around 40,000 guides to the sculpture locations.
While the life-size sculptures moved on last fall, the monumental sculpture remained in Elkhart until the time for its move to its next exhibition site. Fittingly, it will be in Anamosa, Iowa, the home of American Gothic painter Grant Wood. Wood also has an Elkhart connection to the Midwest Museum of American Art, where another of his paintings, Sheaves of Corn, is on exhibit.
The sculpture is owned by the nonprofit organization The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc., which curates and works with partners to exhibit parts of their fine art collection worldwide. Paula Stoeke, the foundation’s curator, notes, “Having God Bless America in Elkhart for the past year has been an honor. The award-winning Quilt Garden exhibition is a stunning display of community collaboration and artistry, and the Seward Johnson Atelier looks forward to joining forces again with the county on future projects which highlight art in the landscape.”
The Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official tourism advertising/marketing and public/community relations organization for the Elkhart County hospitality industry. The ECCVB advances quality-of-place initiatives in our downtowns and rural spaces, parks and natural environment, arts and culture, and events, festivals, groups and activities that help forge social connections.
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For more information, contact Terry T. Mark, director of communications and public relations of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, at 574-262-8161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.