Makin Space for Artists in Perry
by Tiffany Sinnott on June 30, 2014
“You’ll find nine out of ten people would rather tear it down…but we have a vision to build it up.” Said architect, Kirt Blunk, on my most recent trip to Perry Iowa.
Blunk has acquired a turn-of-the-century building right on the main drag of Perry Iowa. His intention is to renovate with the sensitivity to the building’s history. Blunk’s past work includes buildings in the East Village and of recent note; the Crane Lofts in Des Moines on 13th and Walnut.
Blunk is making a name for himself for reviving early to midcentury buildings and seeking creative capital, as in artists. Yes art friends; there is gallery space, ECONOMICAL, gallery space! It is white, large and with historical references to the town, the land and culture itself. Upstairs will be artist studios with classic wood trim and original sky lights, down past the gallery space will be a restaurant and bar with the emphasis on fresh and local foods.
That’s not all… Colleen Eckhoff, Jenny Eklund and Mary Rose (three of the most lovely women I have had the pleasure to meet) are recreating a space as well. Two spaces, actually. A large event center just up the street from Blunk’s white space is the Perry post office.
Built in 1914, the Le Post building will be 100 years old this year and thanks to the time and attention of these three women we can see original polar glass wood frames, hardwood floors and high ceilings. These historic elements were uncovered when the building was acquired. Gone are isolating office cubes and dropped ceilings of the eighties. Warmed by the summer sunlight that glows around the small town, peeking into abandoned building and revealing hidden treasures of historic, mid-century value. The Le Post is a true remnant of history that is well worth a tour.
The building down the street, next to the theater, is to be used for the Perry Chief, the town newspaper. The renovation is currently underway for loft apartments above the studio space. I personally feel the wood trimmed stairs and large glass windows would make an excellent artist residency. New Yorkers have the Hampton’s, why can’t Des Moinians have Perry? Notable art festivals associated with Perry and the arts council can be found at their website, www.artontheprairie.org. A once a year festival that could be extended to once a season. (Iowa is a four-season prairie state after all.)
Perry is a short drive that is long over due. Note to mention: fresh fruit smoothies from an old railroad caboose at the edge of town.
Tiffany Sinnott is an artist living and working in the Greater Des Moines area. Search Tiffany Sinnott on YouTube to see some of her works.