Courtesy: Iowa Arts Council
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Five Stones, One Tree

Des Moines, Iowa

Luther Utterback

Exterior, Hoover State Office Building, 1305 East Walnut Street, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319
Owner:  State of Iowa (
Date:  1977
Placement:  government office buildings
Artwork Type:  sculpture (visual work)
Material:  limestone
Description:  As they approach the Herbert Hoover State Office Building in Des Moines, visitors may notice an unusual triangular formation made by two, symmetrical limestone columns and a flowering tree. Between 1977-1980, artist Luther Utterback designed and supervised the construction of this environmental sculpture, titled Five Stones, One Tree, for the grounds of the new office building. A pair of rough-cut pillars, each comprised of two stones, stand twenty-two feet apart while a fifth stone is sunken below ground. Centered between the columns, a Japanese gingko tree blooms annually, symbolizing longevity and renewal.The scale and material of the artwork are rich with symbolism and potential meanings; while acknowledging his "preoccupation with numerical relationships," the artist also stated that, "the piece was produced by the earth. I just helped write the music, the score for the play." An allocation for the purchase of art in the Hoover Building construction funding, provided by the Iowa Legislature (and preceding, by one year, passage of the Art in State Buildings legislation), and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Art in Public Places program made the project possible.More information about this artwork may be found on the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation’s website at

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