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City of Silos


24 x 30"

acrylic on canvas

Aesthetic Eye, Chicago, IL


A cherry-red barn welcomes us into Iowa, and inside this odd-shaped welcome center, we find out that we have arrived just in time for the most important event in the state. It is the season of the greatly anticipated Iowa State Fair. Unfortunately, our first experience with Iowa residents isn’t very pleasant. We always try to use hotel coupons that are given away in free tourism booklets. They can save you a ton of money, but also cause a lot of frustration. We find a discount for a hotel in Clear Lake, and drive in that direction. When we arrive, the woman at the counter looks at the coupon in my hand and proceeds to tell us that the hotel is booked for the next two nights. One look at the parking lot, and we could tell she was lying. Irritated at her deliberate deception, Alfonso calls the hotel from the car. The same woman answers the phone, and he asks her if there are any rooms available for the night. “Yes,” she says, “would you like to make a reservation?” We didn’t make a reservation, but we did go back inside and explain how upset we were about being discriminated against for trying to use a coupon! Her thick accent reassures us that she isn’t from the area, so we leave in hopes that other Iowans will be friendlier.

We drive past farmlands and silos, and find a wonderful hotel in Waterloo that accepts a coupon without any problem. In a neglected little park downtown, a five-sided memorial stands for the Sullivan Brothers. The Sullivan family had lived in Waterloo during the great depression, and became infamous when all five sons were killed in the sinking of the U.S.S. Juneau. When Japanese bombs hit the ship, it was abandoned in thought that none aboard had survived. However, at least 80 men had made it to life rafts, one of those being the oldest Sullivan Brother, George. After ten days at sea, rescue finally came and only ten men remained. Survivor, Allen Heyn, recalled one night when George Sullivan was

bathing around the raft, when sharks circled, and he was gone. Because of this tragedy, congress passed a law called The Sullivan Law, which prevents brothers from serving on the same ship. It was also the story of these brothers that inspired the movie “Saving Private Ryan.”

On our way to Des Moines, we pass more cornfields, and I watch each aluminum silo change color with the setting sun. Iowa seems to be one of the "forgotten states." Time has vanished here, and simple pleasures still hold their value.  A skyline of cylinders lines the horizon of a quiet, yet productive land, honoring the cornfields and hard work that has made this land profitable. 

We reach Kavannaugh gallery, where the owner confirms the importance of experiencing the Iowa State Fair. "People spend the entire year waiting for the fair!" he explains. On our way to discover this momentous event, we make a stop at Iowa’s old and new capital buildings. The new structure is magnificent, and one of the largest capitals that we have seen. It sits high on a hill, overlooking the city, and could easily be mistaken for a palace. Night begins to set in, and we are re-energized by the whirling lights of the Iowa State Fair. The twenty-dollar entrance fee is a little steep, but can you really

put a price on tasting your first pineapple whip ice cream and standing beside a 3,000-pound bull? I think not!