By Michael Schaffer
---- — Appanoose County can now lay claim to be the 11th Iowa county to have a "Freedom Rock."
Ray "Bubba" Sorensen II, the "Freedom Rock" artist, arrived in Centerville Wednesday, Aug. 21. After eight days Sorensen II finished his painting on Thursday, Aug. 29.
He said each "Freedom Rock" is unique and draws on the county's history.
"So my goal is to make each one unique and different," he said.
The Appanoose County "Freedom Rock" features images unique to this county, including Francis Marion Drake, who served as Iowa's governor and a scene from the Centerville Square. Other images Sorensen II painted include the U.S.S. Iowa, the American flag, an eagle and a soldier holding a child.
Sorensen II said he doesn't have a favorite rock.
"I like all of them because they're different and they each kind of speak to me in their own special way."
In 1999 Sorensen II painted the first "Freedom Rock" located 12 miles north of his home town of Greenfield in Adair County. That behemoth, which he calls the "mother ship," weighs in at between 60-90 tons and is almost 12 feet tall.
Every May Sorensen II, 34, repaints the "mother ship" in time for Memorial Day. Each year is with a different design.
Now Sorensen II is on what is called "The Freedom Rock Tour" with the goal to have a smaller, satellite "Freedom Rock" in every Iowa county. Along the way Sorensen II wants to thank our nation's veterans, promote tourism in Iowa and feed his family.
The images he uses to thank veterans for their service tend to be American flags, eagles, military branch symbols and soldiers.
"So a lot of those elements will be repeated," he said. "There's many ways to repeat those."
Sorensen II charges $5,000 to paint a "Freedom Rock."
"My idea was I wanted to keep it affordable for everyone but still make it worth my time so I charge my mural minimum which is $5,000," Sorensen II said.
The charge includes Valspar paint, a "Freedom Rock Tour" sponsor. A second paint choice, at an additional charge, is available.
A silicate mineral paint Sorensen II called "liquid rock" especially designed to be placed on rock is the other option and the paint he used for the Appanoose County rock. It is more expensive but it lasts longer.
"This is not a glue. It's rock. In 24 hours there is a chemical process and it forms to and with the rock," he said. "So there's no glue in it."
Appanoose County's "Freedom Rock," an 8.8 ton boulder valued at $1,400, was donated by L&W Quarry of Centerville. The rock was delivered Monday, Aug. 19 and Iowa Steel and Wire was there to help unload and place it on the southeast corner of the Appanoose County Courthouse lawn.
Sorensen II graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in art design. He and his wife own and operate Sorensen Studios in Greenfield.
Iowa's 12th "Freedom Rock" will be located in Lake Park, Dickerson County.