City Hall, the Hotel Pattee and the Carnegie Museum hold community treasure – more than 250 pieces of original oil and watercolor paintings, sculptures, statuary, murals, award-winning quilts and artifacts owned by the Fullhart/Carnegie Charitable Trust.
The Trust, once known as Hometown Perry, is the final legacy left by Roberta Greene Ahmanson and her husband, Howard Ahmanson, who spent more than $10 million to renovate the Hotel Pattee.
The couple’s final act for Perry, after closing and selling the hotel and creating Hometown Perry, was to turn their trust over to the newly created Trust.
“Now, the art is leased to the City of Perry for $10, said Bill Clark, president of the Fullhart/Carnegie Charitable Trust. The Trust is made up of 14 local Board members who oversee and maintain the art and Reconfiguration Arches by sculptor Albert Paley. The Trust, transferred from the Ahmansons in 2012, also oversees the archival and historical collection first generated by Hometown Perry Iowa. The couple also made a donation to the new trust to help continue the work.
“There is some great art in public institutions, but another town the size of Perry having a collection of art that we do… not even close,” Clark said.
The Ahmansons turned over their trust to the community because they recognized the art had become an important part of the aesthetics and character of Perry, he said.
The art and efforts of the Trust has positioned Perry as being known for its art, not only the art owned by the Trust, but as a catalyst for a growing appreciation and education of art in Perry.
Much of the art can be seen by anyone.
A bronze statue sculpted by Christopher B. Bennett of the late George Soumas, a war hero, an attorney and mayor of Perry, sits in the courtyard between the hotel and the city building next door.
Sculptor Albert Paley’s creation of the arch into the courtyard is made with pieces of machinery, farming, kitchen items and more from the area.
On the main floor of the City Hall building, a large oil painting of a landscape, called “Midwest Farm” graces the wall. The art was done by Gary Ernest Smith, an internationally-recognized artist.
The Trust collection includes 36 of Smith’s paintings.
Next summer, information about the art will include a bar code card next to the art piece. Smart-phone users will be able to scan the bar code which will bring up text about the art piece, including the artist and other information.
In 2016, the Trust and the city will be partnering with the artist, Brunnier Art Museum at Iowa State University in Ames, and the Hotel Pattee to put on a show. Planning has already begun and Clark has promised it will be a community celebration, as well as an art celebration.