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Road To Waubeek: Discovering Jay. G. Sigmund

Barbara Feller
$14.95, Isbn 9781948509008, 90 pgs

At the crossroads of two cultural icons exists Jay G. Sigmund, born in Waubeek, Iowa. As the Regionalist movement was in full swing guess who had an enormous influence on well-known artist Grant Wood? Jay Sigmund. Also at this time a paperboy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was working on his interests in writing poetry with Jay Sigmund. Who was this paperboy? Another icon from eastern Iowa, Paul Engle, best known as the long-time director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and as founder of the International Writing Program (IWP), both at the University of Iowa.

In his time, Jay Sigmund was a successful insurance agent, but also a nationally respected and well-known author who clearly had a major impact on Midwestern culture through his love of place, such as the Wapsipinicon River, Waubeek, Iowa, and locations in and around Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Upcoming Events:

Release party: Sunday, October 7, 2:00 – 5:00, Celebration of family and friends. Food and Music by Deep Dish Divas FB & Company, 4185 Whittier Road, Waubeek, Iowa

Tuesday, October 16th 7:00, Reading and book signing Barnes and Noble, Cedar Rapids

Thursday, October 25 6:30, Reading and book signing, Beaverdale Books, Des Moines

Saturday, November 3 10:00 – Noon, Full program & book signing, History Center at new location:
Douglas Mansion on 2nd Avenue SE,
Cedar Rapids

Sunday, November 4th 3:00, Reading and book signing, Prairie Lights Bookshop, Iowa City

Saturday, November 10 1:00, Full Program & book signing, Springville Public Library

Events pending Coe College and Simpson College.

High Praises for Road To Waubeek

Road to Waubeek reveals fascinating details about Jay Sigmund and his connections to Marvin Cone, Paul Engle, and Grant Wood. Feller’s research adds another layer to the artistic and literary legacies these men cultivated in eastern Iowa.”
—Ranelle Knight-Lueth, PhD, Assistant Professor of Art History, Director of Galleries and Collections, Coe College

“I found Road To Waubeek by author and good friend Barb Feller to be a wonderful and satisfying account of the timeless beauty and value of Linn County, Iowa. There is so much to discover and appreciate, including the richness of the friendships between Jay Sigmund, Grant Wood, and Paul Engle. These pages help capture the essence of an incredibly creative and meaningful time in the Midwestern Heartland. A joy to read!”
—Mark Stoffer Hunter, Historian, Linn County Historical Society (The History Center)

“A wonderful tribute to the ‘Poet of the Wapsipinicon Valley.’ Jay Sigmund’s Regionalist influence can be seen in the work of contemporaries Grant Wood and Paul Engle. Jay’s advice to Wood: Stay home and paint what you know best,’ led to Cedar Rapids becoming the ‘prairie art capital.’ A review in the Cedar Rapids Gazette of Grant Wood’s Woman with Plants, stated, ‘Wood is now doing with pigments what Jay Sigmund is doing with words.’ Sigmund’s work and influence on fellow artists harkens us back to a time of reassuring words and images of the American Heartland during the Great Depression. Barbara Feller’s profile of Jay Sigmund’s life and his significant influence on the modern Regionalist movement are shared with an appreciation of how this author’s personality helped define the character of the people of Iowa.”
—Jim Jacobmeyer, Founder and President, The Artisan’s Sanctuary, Marion, Iowa

“Who knew a man born in the tiny town of Waubeek, Iowa, would be in the right place at the right time to influence the 20th Century’s most important artists and art movements? Without Jay Sigmund, Grant Wood might have toiled in obscurity, imitating French Impressionists instead of creating American Regionalism. Without Jay Sigmund, Paul Engle might have owned a grocery store, instead of making the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop renown throughout the world. Peeling back the layers of this fascinating man, Barb Feller invites us to join her on a unique journey, one that demonstrates how a single life can not only have a lasting impact on a community, but on the art and culture of an entire generation.”
—Dennis Green, Arts & Culture Editor & General Manager KCCK FM, author, Traveler

Road to Waubeek, is a historical gem. Demonstrating how great artists are nurtured by individuals in a community who recognize their specialness, encourage them and validate their early thinking and works. Feller has discovered just such a person, Jay G. Sigmund, a Cedar Rapids insurance agent, who was once a well-known Midwestern author, but even more significant, he became a friend and inspiration to two of Iowa’s most important sons: artist Grant Wood and poet/parent of the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, Paul Engle. Feller delineates the importance of Sigmund’s friendship with these two, and also documents his importance and support for the development of Cedar Rapids’ Community Theater and the Art Center’s beginning collection. This slim volume is important for its insight into Iowa history, Middle West artistic culture, and the literary history of American poetry. Even more important, her book demonstrates the power of friendship.”
—Ann Struthers, author of two new poetry chapbooks, Aleppo Burning and The Kindness of Crocodiles

“Ms. Feller approaches her subject as a mystery. She finds a mysterious archival box which tempts her into a universe of unanswered questions. The book is written just this way. The author enters a world of civilization, discipline, and inspiration inside an unlikely place. The book tempts the reader with revelation after revelation, painting vivid pictures. You want to follow the trail which connects familiar names in the high reaches of poetry and art to the personality and genius of one Jay G. Sigmund, a true Iowan poet, whose importance may have been lost if it were not for Ms Feller’s scholarship. Barbara Feller reaches into the style of a more formal and serious time in her writing, and the result is engaging. The book brings a lost time and place to life. Declaring the significance of this community of small places as pivotal in the evolution of American letters and art.”
—Don Schaeffer, PhD, author, Banzai and Four Stories and Their Poems

“Coming from Missouri and living in Iowa for nearly forty years I had heard the name of Mr. Sigmund but did not know his true significance to Eastern Iowa and the world of art and literature. Barb Feller has found the pieces of a far flung puzzle and did the work for us in putting the picture all together for we of following generations. Road to Waubeek is a grand story about a grand fellow.”
—Cary J. Hahn, Classic KMRY Radio News Director, Former CBS 2 Iowa Traveler