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New horizons ahead

Agriculture.com Staff 01/11/2008 @ 11:00pm

People don't often use the words rural and art in the same sentence. Maybe it's because most of us who live in rural areas overlook the art around us.

Our landscapes are filled with it: brilliant sunsets, spectacular cloud canvasses, patchwork patterns of fields, and majestic church spires rising above towns nestled in river valleys. Yet we drive by daily without appreciating their beauty.

Last summer I did a double take as I passed a field near Granger, Iowa, on my way to work. Too late! The scene was in my rearview mirror.

The next morning, I slowed down to see that the cornfield had sprouted a larger-than-life mural of two children kneeling over an open treasure chest. Their faces full of joy, each holds a toy. A 1955 Corvette, Etch-A-Sketch, and Monopoly game inside the chest suggested a simpler era.

Treasure Hunt is the work of John Cerney of Salinas, California. Cerney began creating public art 22 years ago, convincing California farmers to let him paint murals on their barns. Now he places his cutouts in fields and roadways.

Harald Lamberts saw Cerney's art in California and convinced the artist to plant it in his Iowa farm field.

Lamberts says reaction to the mural has been positive. "People pull off the highway onto the gravel road to take pictures," he says. "Some take the art too literally, looking for clues to dig for hidden treasure."

Although there's no pot of gold buried nearby, Cerney's art suggests an even more valuable truth.

We need to slow down to appreciate the view in front of us and to see how it enriches the texture of our lives. Recognizing this beauty may require a different perspective, such as the patchwork view of fields from a plane as it prepares to land.

Sometimes we need to see familiar landmarks through others' eyes to appraise the value. Grant Wood saw the beauty of rural America. My family recently saw his early works at the Cedar Rapids Art Museum. Some of Wood's other paintings owned by that city were set for auction in New York City until Iowans stepped forward to raise funds.

As we travel rural roads, let's slow down, shut off the DVD, and tell our kids to look around. We never know what we might miss. I was lucky that I could return for a second look.

In our lives, as in art, we need to resolve to open our eyes to uncover the hidden treasures around us. We truly never will pass this way again.

John Cerney Murals
543-C Brunken Avenue
Salinas, CA 93901
831/758-8403
www.johncerney.com

People don't often use the words rural and art in the same sentence. Maybe it's because most of us who live in rural areas overlook the art around us.

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