Governor Tom Vilsack has chosen a Grant Wood painting for the scene that’ll be struck on the back of the state quarter. The Iowa quarter will feature a one-room schoolhouse, with a teacher and students outside planting a tree. Grant Wood called his painting “Arbor Day” and Vilsack says it will highlight the state’s commitment to education, as well as showcase a pastoral setting that illustrates Iowa’s agriculture and environment. Lennis Moore of Mount Pleasant, an artist, drew three of the designs among the five finalists, but he salutes the Governor’s decision to use an image created by Wood in 1932. “If anybody depicted, as an Iowa artist, really what Iowa is, it would be Grant Wood,” Moore says. Vilsack says the design “sends a strong, positive message about our state.” Vilsack says Iowa is one of the first states to use a work of art as the design for its state quarter. The Governor expects to get some grief for his choice. He says “it’s always a difficult situation, because it’s something everybody’s got an opinion about.” Vilsack unveiled his choice yesterday in Cedar Rapids at P.M.X. a company that does business with the U.S. Mint. Bruce Neeley, president and Chief Operating Officer of P.M.X., says his company processes the metal strips for 55 percent of the nickles, dimes and quarters that are minted in the U.S. Neeley’s company takes raw ore, melts it, refines it down into a strip, and ships it to the U-S Mint,which takes that strip of metal and strikes coins. So, what’s in a quarter? Neeley says there’s nickel on the outside, and copper on the inside. Alvin Flyr of Colfax, a coin collector, says it’s an “excellent choice.”Flyr says it’s unique from the other state designs that have been chosen, and will “make us proud.” Brian Fanton runs a coin shop in Hiawatha, and had two favorites among the five final designs — and “Arbor Day” was one of his faves because the Mint re-worked the design and “all the details and characteristics will come out fine on it now.” Flyr and Fanton were on the committee that went through thousands of designs and submitted five to the Governor. Vilsack made his final choice 13 months after the committee began its search. In response to a reporter’s question, Vilsack said he never thought about flipping a coin to make the quarter design decision. The Iowa Quarter will go into circulation in August of next year. The original Grant Wood painting “Arbor Day” is owned by the Cedar Rapids school district.
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