The corner of 8th Street and Main Avenue, Clear Lake, is being readied to become home to a Freedom Rock®.
Iowa native Ray Michael Sorensen II, better known as ‘Bubba,’ will travel to Clear Lake in August to paint a rock, unique to Cerro Gordo County, on the site. The work will become one of the more than 70 rocks which are being planned in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. As of mid-May 2017, Freedom Rocks have been completed, or booked, in all but four Iowa counties.
Sorensen tells the story that as a young child he began drawing, and later painted his first mural on the large, approximately 12-foot tall, 60-90 ton rock that age has made his artwork known throughout the world— The Freedom Rock. While attending college, 19-year-old Bubba was inspired by the movie, “Saving Private Ryan” and painted a sincere thank you to veterans on the rock. The work was so appreciated that local veterans encouraged him to continue painting the rock every year for Memorial Day. He has painted the rock with different tributes to our nation’s veterans every year since 1999. Each May he starts out by painting over the previous year’s work and repaints a completely different tribute which he finished by Memorial Day.
Sorensen’s original Freedom Rock is located along Iowa Highway 25 near Menlo in western Iowa, approximately one mile south of exit 86 on Interstate 80.
Today, Bubba and his wife, Maria, and family live in Greenfield, Iowa where they own and operate a mural painting business named Sorensen Studios. Although he paints the original Freedom Rock for free, he is commissioned to paint the small Freedom Rocks in every other county.
He is currently concentrating on completing The Freedom Rock Tour throughout Iowa and is embarking on a 50 State Freedom Rock Tour.
Clear Lake resident Ron Andrews has visited 15 Freedom Rocks while traveling the state both personally and while employed as an officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Almost four years ago he became enthused about the idea of locating a Freedom Rock for Cerro Gordo County in Clear Lake. He shared the idea with Gene Madson, who has been active in raising funds and promoting various projects, often dealing with veterans, within the community for many years.
“I was busy with another project at the time Ron mentioned it to me. Then, two weeks later he mentioned it again— and a month later,” laughed Madson. “Finally we got together and it all came together.”