Polyurethane Outdoor Art Puts Family Business on the Map
From a tiny town in Nebraska, one small family-owned business is making iconic outdoor polyurethane art installations that can be found in cities across America.
Outdoor PU Artwork in Masse
You may not be familiar with Icon Poly, but there is a good possibility that you may have run into their work. Over the past 20 years, the company has churned out thousands of outdoor sculptures, consisting of polyurethane, fiberglass and foam.
A City Branding Device
Many cities use this kind of polyurethane outdoor artwork as a sort of branding device. The pieces are usually created on a large scale, sometimes dozens of the same object are churned out at a time. Later, the works are given to local businesses and artists to customize and paint as they see fit. The items, like a large fire hydrant or cow, are then put on display for the enjoyment of tourists and locals alike.
Although the process can vary from project to project, to create their iconic polyurethane resin sculptures, the team at Icon Poly first creates a 3D rendering of the object. The company then makes a negative impression mold of the object from rubber. Once the mold is created, it can then be filled with various layers of polyurethane resin. After it has been poured, the resin is allowed to dry and harden. The mold is then removed and out comes a copy of the original 3D object.
The History of Outdoor Artwork
This brand of outdoor art craze likely started in Chicago in 1999. The city held a successful “parade of cows” with bovine sculptures festooned in everything from papal robes to Hawaiian shirts. Icon Poly did not do this original work, but thanks to the campaign’s success, other cities and the company found a blueprint they could follow to help drive tourism and commerce.
Over the past two decades, the company has churned out thousands of life-size and larger-than-life sculptures, among them: guitars for Cleveland and lobsters for New England. All done to galvanize communities and help put cities on the map.