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Events

Gallery C in Dubuque, IA

Paco Rosic creations combine artistic elements of both movement and fine art, blending kinetic...

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September 12, 2015  To  October 2, 2015
Black Earth Gallery- Cedar Rapids, IA

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August 6, 2015  To  September 20, 2015
Polk Country Heritage Gallery Des Moiones, IA

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August 3, 2015  To  August 5, 2015
Kaiulani Gallery, Waterloo, IA

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January 10, 2006  To  February 10, 2006
Walls of Fame, Okoboji Art Museum, IA

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September 1, 2005  To  October 1, 2005
The Debut Gallery, Cedar Falls, IA

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June 1, 2005  To  August 8, 2005
Waterloo Museum of Art, Waterloo, IA

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May 8, 2004  To  June 15, 2004

News

St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri-Sunday, July 1, 2007

15/03/2017 01:40

Click Here to read the article

WATERLOO, Iowa -- The ballot is in, the vote has been counted and the winner is -- Paco Rosic, a Bosnian refugee and reformed graffiti artist who used 5,000 cans of spray paint to re-create the Sistine Chapel ceiling at his family's restaurant in Waterloo.

Rosic edged out Patrick Acton, a college counselor who has built incredibly detailed models with wood matchsticks, including a 12-foot-long model of the U.S. Capitol that took 478,000 matchsticks and looks like it should have ant-sized politicians sitting inside.

While Iowa's early presidential primary gets all the attention, I held a contest of my own with a 1,100-mile, looping road trip in search of the weirdest, wackiest, most amazing attractions the Hawkeye State had to offer.

Iowa was too big to cover in just five days, so I may have missed your favorite destination. Personally, I wanted to see where the music died, but the farm field near Clear Lake where a plane crashed in 1959 carrying Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens would have meant a half-day detour.

Still, I strolled through picture-perfect towns such as Pella, ate a banana split for breakfast at the ice cream capital of the world in Le Mars and watched a young businessman from Cincinnati knock my hanging curveball into the corn stubble beyond the Field of Dreams in Dyersville.

I also visited the birthplace of Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset and of Donnabelle Mullenger in Denison. You remember them, don't you?

I met Paco Rosic one rainy morning in downtown Waterloo at his restaurant, appropriately called Galleria De Paco. Above the plush tables set for dinner was a ceiling covered in a glowing version of the Sistine Chapel ceiling that would have made Michelangelo proud.

Rosic, 27, explained that he was born in Sarajevo, but his family fled the Bosnian War in 1991 and settled in Germany, where he became a graffiti artist, or tagger, as a teenager. When his family immigrated to the United States in 1997, he wanted to elevate his artistic skills, but use the same medium.

Rosic saw the Sistine Chapel in an art book at the age of 6 and was hooked. When his parents turned a dilapidated antique store in Iowa into a gourmet restaurant, the barrel ceiling became his canvas. "I flew to Rome, I had to see it with my own eyes," Rosic said. "I walked into the Sistine Chapel and it blew me away. I stood there for hours and hours."

Returning home, he worked as long as 15 hours a day on his project, lying on an industrial scaffolding 12 feet above the ground. It took more than four months to re-create the biblical scenes with 384 characters on the restaurant ceiling. Because of the spectacular results, Rosic, now a U.S. citizen, has been commissioned for similar projects, including one in Las Vegas.

"I wanted to prove you can do something positive with a can of spray paint -- I call it aerosol art," he said. "To me, this is the greatest country. America is the only place you can do this."

The German founders of Burlington built Snake Alley, which Ripley's says is the world's crookedest street, in 1894 to get their wagons and carriages from the top of Heritage Hill down to the city's business district. I was admiring its seven curves over 275 feet when Jackson Collins walked up.

"When I was a kid we used to drive down it one way, and then we backed up it the other -- in 1948, in a '39 Ford," Collins said. "They won't let you do that kind of BS anymore." The street attracts scofflaws. Moments later, a young man in a red sports car with the top down sped up the one-way street, the wrong way.

Fifty miles to the west, Fairfield had the only city guide in America that provided a pronunciation key and definition for the word "maharishi." More than 30 years ago, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who became world famous as the guru to the Beatles, was looking for a place to set up a school for his followers of Transcendental Meditation when he purchased the old Parsons College in Fairfield.

This little farm town was flooded with hundreds of hippies from both coasts who were seeking a blissful life and world peace amid the cornfields of Iowa. The maharishi now lives in Holland, but nearly 1,000 of his followers still attend his Maharishi University of Management, where they meet at 5 each evening to meditate.

After some early friction, the TM followers and the farmers have melded into a mellow community that has a thriving art scene, a world-class spa and hotel that recently hosted the Beach Boys, and gourmet shops and restaurants befitting a big city. Even the mayor meditates.

Eldon was a short ride from Fairfield, and a must stop because it is home to the modest white cottage Grant Wood used in his "American Gothic" painting of a somber-faced farm couple with a pitchfork. There was no one in sight except two construction workers building a visitors center across the street. Joe Miranda and Juan Ochoa agreed to pose with their ladder.

Pella, home to the window manufacturer of the same name, looked like a movie set, with a re-created Dutch village, beds of tulips everywhere and the country's tallest working windmill. T-shirts in a shop window said, "If you're not Dutch, you're not much."

After paying $1.90 for an almond-flavored pastry from the 100-year-old Jaarsma Bakery, I was in need of exercise and stopped outside of town at the Cordova Park Observation Tower, a water tower converted into the Midwest's tallest observation tower at 118 feet.

A sign warned "ascending tower requires physical exertion" and climbing the 168 steps was, indeed, breathtaking.

I made a U-turn on Highway 14 going through Monroe to take a second look at an octagon-shaped house in need of repair. "It doesn't get any weirder than this house and the guy who lives in it," said Lauri Williamson, who answered the door. The owner was David Lorton, a professional buckskinner who preferred to be called Snake.

"It was built around 1865," said Lorton, 59, who has lived in the house since he was 4. "The guy was a doctor or lawyer who had attended a seminar on pyramids and octagons and reading bumps on your head. He built it because of the vibes."

Blue cheese, Maytags and John Wayne

Back on the road, Newton was next and Myrna Ver Ploeg, president of Maytag Dairy Farms, gave me a tour of the spotless facilities where the world's most famous blue cheese is made, and aged in caves.

"We make a million pounds of cheese a year -- it takes 10 pounds of milk to make a pound of cheese," she said.

The name Maytag is also known for appliances, and the same family founded that company, which had administrative offices and production facilities employing 3,000 people at its peak in Newton. In April of 2006, Whirlpool acquired the Maytag appliance company. In May, it announced it would pull all operations out of Newton. The town is in mourning, although it still has Maytag Blue.

Des Moines presented the trip's first setback. "The shrunken heads have been taken off display, they're not considered politically correct," said Edy Fudge, tour guide at the Salisbury House. "They're still here, but I don't know where they are. Honestly."

I had been promised shrunken heads by the state tourism folks, but Salisbury House was pretty cool, even without the heads. Carl and Edith Weeks completed the 42-room mansion in 1928 and shopped the world for antiques to fill it. They modeled the house after a 13th-century hunting lodge in Salisbury, England.

Carl Weeks was a pharmacist who added cold cream to face powder and created a new beauty product that grew into an international cosmetics company. He collected everything, including shrunken heads. As Fudge led the way through the rooms, I'd peek in the drawers and cabinets, hoping to see a tiny shriveled face peeking back.

Winterset was a success. Carolyn Wilson showed me around the tiny four-room home where Marion Robert Morrison was born on May 26, 1907. His family stayed in town only three more years, and Marion became better known as John Wayne.

"He weighed 13 pounds, it was a difficult birth," Wilson said. "Our saying here is: He came into the world big, and went out big."

The gift shop sold a black T-shirt that said "The Duke" for $18, and the memorabilia in the home included an eye patch Wayne wore in "True Grit." The town held a major event in May to celebrate the late actor's birthday and to raise funds for a new museum.

Imagine. John Wayne would have been 100 years old this year.

Wilson also gave me a map to find the six covered bridges made famous by the book, and later the movie, titled "The Bridges of Madison County." The movie, which came out in 1995, starred Clint Eastwood as a photographer and Meryl Streep as a naughty farmer's wife.

It was like a treasure hunt heading over the back roads, but I found all six red bridges. There was no bored farmer's wife hanging around, just a guy looking for treasures of his own with a metal detector.

Lunch was at the Northside Cafe, where Eastwood ate in the movie. I was wolfing down an excellent Philly cheese steak sandwich when a tour group of ladies came in and asked which stool Eastwood sat on. They took turns patting the stool, reverently. "I'd rather pat his buns," said Sheryl Funderburg of Bethany, Okla.

Albert, the world's largest bull, graced a park in Audubon, where he was built by the local Jaycees in 1964 to honor the state's beef industry. The 45-ton concrete sculpture of a Hereford was anatomically correct, from his thick eyelashes to his hoofs and everything in between.

Denison was the birthplace of Donnabelle Mullenger, who was known as Donna Reed when she won an Oscar in 1953 for her portrayal of a prostitute in "From Here to Eternity," quite a role reversal for an actress who built a career on her wholesome image. Donna had a lifelong affection for the town, and the golden statue now has a place of honor on the mantel of the Crawford County historical museum.

Le Mars marked the western end of my journey, and I stopped long enough to investigate its claim as the "Ice Cream Capital of the World." Sure enough, the town is home to Wells Dairy, which makes more ice cream -- nearly 120 million gallons a year, most of it under the Blue Bunny name -- in one location than any other company. Fred Wells founded the company in 1913 with a borrowed $250. Andrew Wells, the fourth generation to work there, tried to entice me into trying a Goliath sundae at its ice cream parlor.

It was 10 a.m., and the Goliath was about a foot tall and covered in toppings, so I declined the offer, settling instead for a banana split.

I was in the home stretch now and blew by the world's largest popcorn ball, displayed in a red shed with a picture window in Sac City. The 3,100-pound behemoth was made by 40 volunteers at the Noble Popcorn Farm in 2004 and certified by Guinness as the planet's biggest. A giant can of Coke stood nearby to wash it down.

The tour came to a screaming halt in Gladbrook when I walked into the Matchstick Marvels and saw the incredible work of Patrick Acton. "The first thing people say when they walk in the door is -- 'I didn't expect them to be this big,'" said Esther Jindrich, who was collecting the $3 admission. She was talking about the battleships, space shuttles, capital buildings and other works Acton built by gluing together wood matchsticks, minus the heads. Ripley's can't believe it either; the firm has purchased 15 of the marvels for its museums.

Acton, 54, "started doing this from boredom on a cold winter afternoon," Jindrich said. "It takes him up to three years to make one, and lots of glue. We don't talk about patience."

After my visit with Paco Rosic, the aerosol artist, I headed east to Dyersville, which has a trifecta of attractions: the twin-spired St. Francis Xavier Basilica, the most beautiful church on my loop; the National Farm Toy Museum, which has 30,000 toys and trucks on display; and the Field of Dreams, the baseball diamond that starred in the 1989 movie of the same name.

I didn't see any ghosts on the diamond, only Craig Beachler, who had a bat, two gloves and a bag of balls. Beachler, 32, and wearing a Cincinnati Reds cap, said he was moving to Oregon, and made a pilgrimage to the field. "This was a few hours out of the way, but I grew up with this movie -- it gives me chills," he said. "Got a good arm on you?"

I took the mound, and he dusted off home plate. After a few long fouls, he zeroed in and hit my slow-motion curveball over the green expanse of left field into the cornfield stubble beyond. Beachler left for Oregon smiling; my arm ached for two days.

The Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque says it is the world's shortest, steepest scenic railway, heading 189 feet up on a rail 296 feet in length to a platform that offers a panoramic view of three states. Isabel Trumbauer, 87, was a lifelong resident of the Dubuque area, but making her first ascent.

"I used to beg my mother to take me, but she was scared to death," said Trumbauer, who was with her three daughters. "It's kind of like being in a helicopter, although I've never been in one of those, either."

Get a sideways view of Tom’s Iowa trip, T8 If you go info, T5 Iowa By Tom Uhlenbrock ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH WATERLOO, IOWA • The ballot is in, the vote has been counted and the winner is — Paco Rosic, a Bosnian refugee and reformed graffi ti artist who used 5,000 cans of spray paint to re-create the Sistine Chapel ceiling at his family’s restaurant in Waterloo. Rosic edged out Patrick Acton, a college counselor who has built incredibly detailed models with wood matchsticks, including a 12-foot-long model of the U.S. Capitol that took 478,000 matchsticks and looks like it should have ant-sized politicians sitting inside. While Iowa’s early presidential primary gets all the attention, I held a contest of my own with a 1,100-mile, looping road trip in search of the weirdest, wackiest, most amazing attractions the Hawkeye State had to offer. Iowa was too big to cover in just fi ve days, so I may have missed your favorite destination. Personally, I wanted to see where the music died, but the farm fi eld near Clear Lake where a plane crashed in 1959 carrying Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens would have meant a half-day detour. Still, I strolled through picture-perfect towns such as Pella, ate a banana split for breakfast at the ice cream capital of the world in Le Mars and watched a young businessman from Cincinnati knock my hanging curveball into the corn stubble beyond the Field of Dreams in Dyersville. I also visited the birthplace of Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset and of Donnabelle Mul- lenger in Denison. You remember them, don’t you? I met Paco Rosic one rainy morning in downtown Waterloo at his restaurant, appropriately called Gal- leria De Paco. Above the plush tables set for dinner was a ceiling covered in a glowing version of the Sistine Chapel ceiling that would have made Michelangelo proud. Rosic, 27, explained that he was born in Sarajevo, but his family fl ed the Bosnian War in 1991 and settled in Germany, where he became a graffi ti artist, or tagger, as a teenager. When his family immigrated to the United States in 1997, he wanted to elevate his artistic skills, but use the same medium. Rosic saw the Sistine Chapel in an art book at the age of 6 and was hooked. When his parents turned a dilapidated antique store in Iowa into a gourmet restaurant, the barrel ceiling became his canvas. “I fl ew to Rome, I had to see it with my own eyes,” Rosic said. “I walked into the Sistine Chapel and it blew me away. I stood there for hours and hours.” Returning home, he worked as long as 15 hours a day on his project, lying on an industrial scaffolding 12 feet above the ground. It took more than four months to re-create the biblical scenes with 384 characters on the restaurant ceiling. Because of the spectacular results, Rosic, now a U.S. citizen, has been commissioned for similar projects, including one in Las Vegas. “I wanted to prove you can do something positive with a can of spray paint — I call it aerosol art,” he said. “To me, this is the greatest country. America is the only place you can do this.” MELLOW FARMERS The German founders of Burlington built Snake Alley, which Ripley’s says is the world’s crooked- est street, in 1894 to get their wagons and carriages from the top of Heritage Hill down to the city’s business district. I was admiring its seven curves over 275 feet when Jackson Collins walked up. “When I was a kid we used to drive down it one way, and then we backed up it the other — in 1948, in a ’39 Ford,” Collins said. “They won’t let you do that kind of BS anymore.” The street attracts scofflaws. Moments later, a young man in a red sports car with the top down sped up the one-way street, the wrong way. Fifty miles to the west, Fairfi eld had the only city guide in America that provided a pronunciation key and defi nition for the word “maharishi.” More than 30 years ago, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who became world famous as the guru to the Beatles, was looking for a place to set up a school for his followers of Transcendental Meditation when he purchased the old Parsons College in Fairfi eld. This little farm town was fl ooded with hundreds of hippies from both coasts who were seeking a blissful life and world peace amid the cornfi elds of Iowa. The maharishi now lives in Holland, but nearly 1,000 of his followers still attend his Mahari- shi University of Management, where they meet at 5 each evening to meditate. After some early friction, the TM followers and the farmers have melded into a mellow community that has a thriving art scene, a world-class spa and hotel that recently hosted the Beach Boys, and gourmet shops and restaurants befi tting a big city. Even the mayor meditates. Eldon was a short ride from Fairfi eld, and a must stop because it is home to the modest white cottage Grant Wood used in his “American Gothic” painting of a somber-faced farm couple with a pitchfork. There was no one in sight except two construction workers building a visitors center across the street. Joe Miranda and Juan Ochoa agreed to pose with their ladder. BAD VIBES IN NEWTON Pella, home to the window manufacturer of the same name, looked like a movie set, with a re-created Dutch village, beds of tulips everywhere and the country’s tallest working windmill. T-shirts in a shop window said, “If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much.” After paying $1.90 for an almond-fl avored pastry from the 100-year-old Jaarsma Bakery, I was in need of exercise and stopped outside of town at the Cordova Park Observation Tower, a water tower converted into the Midwest’s tallest observation tower at 118 feet. A sign warned “ascending tower requires physical exertion” and climbing the 168 steps was, indeed, breathtaking. I made a U-turn on Highway 14 going through Monroe to take a second look at an octagon-shaped house in need of repair. “It doesn’t get any weirder than this house and the guy who lives in it,” said Lauri Williamson, who answered the door. The owner was David Lorton, a professional buckskin- ner who preferred to be called Snake. Out-of-the-way If it’s quaint you seek, then check out the Hawkeye State’s unusual attractions, including a spray- painted version of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, a matchstick model of the U.S. Capitol and a 3,100- pound popcorn ball. And concrete bulls don’t come any bigger than Albert. Get more STLtoday.com/travel • See the slide show and listen to Tom Uhlenbrock tell more about his Iowa trip. Paco Rosic used 5,000 cans of spray paint to re-create the Sistine Chapel ceiling at his family’s restaurant in Waterloo, Iowa. Photos by Tom Uhlenbrock | Post-Dispatch Construction workers Joe Miranda (left) and Juan Ochoa in front of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” house in Eldon, Iowa. EXPLORE PUZZLES & ADVICE COLUMNS INSIDE • BEHIND EXPLORE: AIR FORCE WEEK ADVERTISING SECTION Five good reasons to visit New Orleans this summer And it kicks off with the Essence Festival on July 5 SEE PAGE T4 PLEASE SEE IOWA | T8 SUNDAY • JULY 1, 2007 • SECTION T STLTODAY.COM/TRAVEL • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH T01PD1TR0701_26506 1 T01PD1TR0701_26506 1 6/27/2007 16:16:20 6/27/2007 16:16:20



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