Feb. 27, 2004
The smile on her face was about as long as his shoe. And, why not?
Sara Slee Brown had just brought to life the public art program, Herky on Parade.
She had just delivered a show-stopper, a traffic-stopper, an eye-catcher beyond all eye-cathers — Elvis Herky, a 6-foot tall hunka, hunka burnin’ Hawkeye.
“I like the glitz,” Brown said while watching a handful of special guests and media take a sneak peek of Elvis Herky Friday afternoon in the Iowa Room inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “He’s glitter rock ‘n roll.”
“I like the glitz. He’s glitter rock ‘n roll.”
Sara Slee Brown, creator of Elvis Herky
Make that “Glitter rock ‘n roll, Hawkeye style.” Afterall, Elvis Herky is the first of what will be 75 pieces of art that will share one common thread — each will be life-size, three dimensional representations of Herky, the mascot of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Elvis and 74 of his friends will take the Hawkeye spirit to the street in early May as part of the UI Athletic Department’s celebration of the 75th anniversary of historic Kinnick Stadium, the home of Coach Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa football program.
Elvis and his buddies will be sprinkled across the Iowa City and Coralville community. Based on the success of other similar events like Cedar Rapids’ “Overalls All Over” and Chicago’s “Cows on Parade” programs, Herky on Parade will bring a considerable flock of friends and fans of not only the Hawkeyes, but art — and fun — to eastern Iowa.
Elvis Herky is “mixed medium” art, explained Brown, an Iowa City artist who brought a lot of experience with her to Herky on Parade — she was responsible for the artwork for three of the designs included in “Overalls All Over.”
“He’s a little paint and a little fabric. He was a chance to use all different kids of media in a unique and creative way,” she explained.
Sara Slee Brown — a self-proclaimed “rock ‘n roll” kid — is the genius behind “Elvis Herky.”
In addition to liking her Herky, Brown is a big fan of Herky on Parade. “Artist are very solitary individuals. They work alone and their work becomes very personal and, quite frankly, they don’t talk much amongst themselves. However, the few that I’ve talked with are excited about Herky on Parade,” she said.
“(Elvis Herky) is going to be one of many that will simply knock your socks off. The creativity and genius of the artists in our immediate area and beyond is just unbelievable. I can’t wait to see them do what Sara has done — take their ideas from ink on paper, to paint and other media on the blank statue.”
Josh Shamberger of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau
“I think the community is really going to like the project,” Brown added. “People want to be entertained, they want to have some fun. And, while some think art is serious business, this is meant to be fun and it will be.”
Fun and creative, very creative. “Elvis Herky is cool. He rocks. There’s just no better or simpler way to put it,” said Josh Schamberger, executive director of the Iowa City and Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“And, he’s going to be one of many that will simply knock your socks off. The creativity and genius of the artists in our immediate area and beyond is just unbelievable. I can’t wait to see them do what Sara has done — take their ideas from ink on paper, to paint and other media on the blank statue.”
More Herky on Parade
Elvis Herky will make his first public appearance on Saturday, Nov. 28, at the University of Iowa men’s basketball game against Minnesota. He will be located on the south concourse of Iowa’s award-winning facility. Sara Slee Brown is the artist responsible for Elvis Herky. She will be at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday. Elvis Herky was commissioned by the UI Athletic Department and will be the Herky that hits the road to promote Herky on Parade.
The organizing committee of Herky on Parade announced the participation of City High School, West High School, Regina High School Senior High Alternative Center, Northwest Junior High School, Southeast Junior High School and Regina Junior High School in the Herky on Parade program.
All will be submitting designs for approval and inclusion in Herky on Parade. In addition to submitting a design, students at each location will work with staff to decorate the Herky that will represent their school.
Iowa Children’s Museum: A Real Public Art Project
If all goes according to plan — and everyone knows the story about the best laid plans — the designs of only two Herky statues will be known prior to the start of the Parade in early May. One of those designs is Elvis Herky. The other is Starry Herky.
Starry Herky is being sponsored by the Iowa Children’s Museum and the process of taking Herky from the blank, white, “naked” Herky to a reproduction of Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece “Starry Night” will be on public display. Artists will work twice a week inside a studio located at the southeast entrance of CoralRidge Mall. Three of the studio’s four walls are glass.
64 and Counting
Commitments from sponsors and artists are being finalized fast and furious. The last count of sponsored Herky statues is (approximately) 64. The organizing committee for Herky on Parade has set 75 statues as its goal in honor of the 75th anniversary of historic Kinnick Stadium.
Follow the Parade online at www.herkyonparade.com — it’s alive and kickin’!