Iowa City to launch a year of temporary sculpture installations

The Public Art Advisory Committee will launch the year-long Iowa City Sculptors Showcase on Aug. 6, which will feature installations by three sculptors in three of Iowa City’s most populous hiking locations.


Emily Wangen

Thee Weidman Walk trail at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area is seen on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019.

Maddie Johnston, Arts Editor

Three of Iowa City’s most populous hiking areas will become a temporary home to five Iowan-made sculptures in the year-long, “Iowa City Sculptor’s Showcase.”

The sculpture’s locations include Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, Mercer Park, and Riverfront Crossings Park.

Marcia Bollinger of Iowa City’s Public Art Advisory Committee said the showcase is part of the committee’s Public Art Strategic Plan which plans to provide temporary art displays throughout Iowa City in the coming years.

Bollinger said they hope to broaden the scope of public art to parks, trails, and neighborhoods to allow many communities an opportunity to experience and appreciate art.

“Public art, I think, is really symbolic of the vitality of a community,” Bollinger said. “If there’s that inspiration that’s provided to the citizens, it just makes it a much more interesting place to visit.”

Bollinger added that as the Public Art Advisory Committee is currently evaluating funding for its next fiscal year, they are considering expanding the sculpture showcase to more locations, possibly continuing it along the Iowa River Crossing.

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One of the sculptors, Hilde DeBruyne, said her sculpture, “Bloom,” will fit in perfectly with Terry Trueblood’s surrounding prairie and wildflowers.

DeBruyne’s piece is a stylized abstract version of a flower, and one of many pieces from her botanical series where she focused on art surrounding plants and butterflies.

“I think flowers are so powerful, they have their own language,” DeBruyne said. “If you give a flower to a person, the person will smile, it makes people happy. It’s a simple act, and it’s so easy to do.”

DeBruyne also mentioned the cultural value of adding art to public spaces, stating not only does it draw in customers to surrounding businesses, but provides a different way of viewing art.

“People do not have to go into a museum, they can experience art when they are just walking the dog, or jogging,” DeBruyne said. “They don’t have to get into a museum. It’s a museum without walls.”

DeBruyne’s other sculpture, “Sea of Change,” will be on display at Riverfront Crossings Park, alongside two pieces by V.skip willits. She says the sailboat-like sculpture symbolizes a longing for travel, new perspectives, and meeting new people — a theme she said is especially fitting after a long year of COVID-19.

“Plus, I think it really adds a social value, because every time when I’m installing pieces, people stop and they start talking about it — or, people will talk to each other,” DeBruyne said. “And they might say, ‘Well I don’t really get it,’ or ‘I don’t like it,’ but at least it opens up their minds, and they start thinking about what the artist may be wanting to tell or wants to tell.”

Webster City-based sculptor, Tim Addams, will have his piece, “The Other Extreme,” showcased at Mercer Park. Addams said the abstract, sun-inspired piece is intended to serve as a reminder of our origins.

Addams used bright, wild colors in his sculpture in contrast to a rock to compare the natural elements of the earth to our man-made elements. He said the message was that all the various elements we use on a daily basis, in order to conduct our lives, are generated from two things — the sun and the earth.

“From there it trickles down to metals, colors, and everything else,” Addams said. “For eons and eons people lived with none of those manufactured materials. They depended on the sun and the stars and the earth and the water and so on.”

The grand opening of the Iowa City Sculptors Showcase will be this Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Riverfront Crossings Park, where attendees will be given a chance to meet the sculptors and get their first glimpses at this year’s installations.