American Gothic-inspired sculpture leaving Dubuque Tuesday - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

American Gothic-inspired sculpture leaving Dubuque Tuesday


One popular Dubuque couple, which has grown quite famous since its arrival at the Dubuque Museum of Art more than two-and-a-half years ago, is leaving the city Tuesday.

They're the "ma 'n' pa" duo featured in artist J. Seward Johnson's sculpture God Bless America.

The traveling sculpture, inspired by Iowa artist Grant Wood's American Gothic, heads to Simpson College in Indianola next.

Dubuque Museum of Art director Mark Wahlert said bidding farewell to the larger-than-life piece of art will be bittersweet.

"God Bless America has really become an icon, not only for the Dubuque Museum of Art, but for the whole community," Wahlert said. "We've got people that we know have traveled from every corner of the planet, practically, to see this thing. It's really something that's become very special for us, and so it's bittersweet when we see it finally go, even though we knew it was going to be here just for a temporary stay."

Even though he declined to name an exact amount, Wahlert said the sculpture costs tens of thousands of dollars to bring to Dubuque and extend its original length-of-stay, all through the generosity of donors, from individuals to companies.

"One of the most important aspects to having it in Dubuque is that it ties in so well with the Dubuque Museum of Art's wonderful Grant Wood collection," Wahlert said. "We've got one of the world's largest and most diverse collections, and so having this Grant Wood-inspired work outside has really helped to bring more people into the museum and become aware of our wonderful exhibits and collections."

God Bless America may be leaving, but the museum's Grant Wood collection isn't going anywhere.

Wahlert said the museum is exploring options for filling the soon-to-be-vacant outdoor space, but he hopes the God Bless America sculpture can return to Dubuque in the future.

For more on artist J. Seward Johnson and his work, visit:

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