Friday, June 17, 2011

Downtown Art

I lived in Iowa City (IA) from 1962-1970; Kate from 1965-1970. Given the number of years intervening between those years and today, it is not surprising that the downtown area has undergone some changes.

With rain in the forecast--again--we walked around the tree-lined walkways of the Pedestrian Mall, which had replaced two blocks of College and Dubuque Streets at their intersection, about two blocks from the main part of the University of Iowa campus.

The addition of the period lighting complemented the architectural details of some of the shops lining the Mall.

It was not surprising to learn that the Ped Mall draws large crowds for its summertime events, such as the Friday Night Concert Series and the annual Iowa City Jazz Festival and Iowa City Arts Festival.

(A few days later, one of my former college roommates, Jerry, and his wife, Barb, had driven us into town from their home in nearby North Liberty for the Friday concert, but a rainstorm forced the cancellation of the performance.)

As is the case with many towns, there seem to be efforts made to bring people back from the malls surrounding the city to the vibrant downtown. The Pedestrian Mall seems to serve as a gathering place for students, locals--and, in all likelihood, the homeless.

Another attraction of the Mall is the artwork in this area. Established by the City Council in 1997, the Public Art Advisory Committee oversees the operations of the Public Art program.

Every year, the Committee selects a work for display on the "Iowa Artist's Showcase Pad" located near the Weather-dance Fountain, created by Myklbust-Sears (above).

Nearby was this sculpture entitled "Balance" (right) by Christoph Spath.

Plans are also underway for the Northside Marketplace Literary Walk, which will include excerpts from the works of 20 selected authors to be incorporated into bronze castings on curbside pedestals and lecterns, statues of stacks of books, metal grates that will be installed around sidewalk trees, and bronze banners that will hang from new streetlights. Sculptures of writing implements and reading glasses will also be created for inclusion in the project. The works will be displayed on streets of the Marketplace, which is near the Pedestrian Mall.

But it was this work entitled "Dorothy" by Justine Zimmer that led to more careful study. The silent swirling of the sculpture (shown in detail in the next two photos) seemed all too real.

The Public Art Advisory Committee seems well on its way to realizing it goal "to oversee the operations of the Public Art program and advise the City Council on potential sites that can be enhanced by the addition of public art and also recommend
various pieces of artwork"
( publicart).

The Public Art Program first focused its attention on the downtown area, primarily on the Pedestrian Mall. Public art has also been placed in neighborhood settings and also in city parks.