Image-making across the metro5/15/2013
Art-driven image makeovers are being created around the metro this merry month of May. Consider Clive, surely the largest city in Iowa without a high school. Most towns identify predominantly with their schools, particularly with their high schools. Residents wear their colors, call themselves after their mascots, cheer their teams and stay connected for decades through their reunions. How does Clive manage to build an identity without a school system?
The town has developed a park system that is the first thing many outsiders learn about Clive. Its Greenbelt Park and Trail System particularly projects a positive image. Each year, Clive’s park board, art council, city council and chamber of commerce collaborate to commission sculptures of temporary public art for prominent placement along that 11.3-mile trail. Each May new works are installed for display through October. Art fans are then encouraged to vote for their favorite piece (https://www.cityofclive.com/residents/public-art-program/vote/art-along-the-trail.php). The Clive Public Art Advisory Commission then chooses one of the top two vote-getters for purchase for the city’s permanent public art collection. James Bearden’s “Paths Unite” was selected last year.
Last week I wistfully watched the installation of the late Mac Hornecker’s steel and ferroconcrete “Prairie Breeze” in Campbell Park, the site of the dedication ceremony for this year’s project (at 5 p.m. on May 21.) A generation of students who were influenced by the charismatic Buena Vista University professor should be touched to view it. Other 2013 artists, their pieces and locations along the Clive Greenbelt Trail are: John Brommel’s “Mist of Time;” Anna Modeland’s “Devine Intertwine;” Sue Berkey’s “The Red Coyote;” James Bearden’s “Tranquility;” and Hilde DeBruyne’s “Hope.”
In the East Village, Metro Waste Authority cleaned up its image by commissioning a three-story mural by Chris Vance, a Bondurant artist who has created a personal iconography that is adored and collected by many. For this project Vance incorporated typical metro waste — plastic bottles, newspapers, refrigerators, etc. — into his narrative. Many locals already love the mural, and some don’t, as usual. Not to blow wind on a dumpsite, but let us hope this is legal. Just a few years ago the city demanded that a similar mural, commissioned by Rosa Martinez on a wall at La Rosa restaurant, be painted over. Despite hundreds of letters of support, and no complaint, it was declared illegal in Des Moines because its dancing foods “referred to the product of the business.” Don’t plastic bottles and refrigerators also refer to the product of Metro Waste’s business? Or has the city lightened up?
Polk County’s Heritage Art Gallery needs a new image. Mainly it needs its own image. When I searched for it on Google last week, the main result directed me to a website (www.heritagegallery.org) that displayed links to “free adult web cam sex,” “the You Tube of porn,” “American heritage girls” and several similar things. The real Polk County Heritage Art Gallery (www.polkcountyheritagegallery.org) is trying to become younger and edgier, but a visit to its current show is unlikely to offend anyone.
“ ‘III’ A Medley of Sculpture, Light, and Canvas” is the first of multiple shows at the gallery for which Thee Eye’s Ian Miller will act as curator. It features oil paintings of blogger and Juice columnist, Cat Rocketship, a reconstruction of a burned piano by photographer Dan Welk and an installation of symbolic stop signs by screen printer Jon Pearson. On opening night, Pearson laid under one stop sign while Welk simulated burning piano aromas. Only Pearson’s feet were nude. CV
Jim Duncan is a freelance writer who has penned nine different columns for Cityview and its sister publications beginning in 1987.