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‘Art in unexpected places’: Iowa City Sculpture Showcase is seeking new works of art


“Sea of Change” by V. Skip Willits at Riverfront Crossings Park, in Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Adria Carpenter/Little Village

Over the last year, visitors to Iowa City’s Riverfront Crossings, Terry Trueblood and Mercer parks will have noticed an array of tall sculptures along their walkways: metal suns, flowers and clouds atop concrete slabs. A simple pitch from a public survey — “art in unexpected places” — soon became the Iowa City Sculpture Showcase, and submissions are now open for the next wave of public exhibits.

The Sculpture Showcase, hosted by the Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC), began last year with five sculptures spread across the city, said Wendy Ford, economic development and public art coordinator for Iowa City. This year, the showcase will feature eight sculptures: four in Riverfront Crossings, two in Terry Trueblood and one each in Mercer and Scott parks.

“It really is popular. People seem to like it,” Ford said. “There was a lot of enthusiasm at the beginning with the open house.”

The deadline for submissions is Friday, May 20, and artists whose proposals are selected will receive a $1,500 commission ($500 upon agreement, $500 upon installation and $500 upon removal). The outdoor exhibits will be on display from August 2022 through July 2023.

PAAC will evaluate the proposals based on criteria including “artistic merit, creativity, public safety and durability outdoors.” It will also determine where the sculptures will be displayed.

“A community with art in it is one that clearly values the aesthetic of art, but also values what it can do for its residents,” Ford said. “It can be contemplative, or playful and fun, or add an aesthetic to some place that needs to be beautified. It has so many positive benefits to it.”

The sculptures must fit securely on a 4-foot-by-4-foot cement block and be able to withstand high winds, rain, heat, snow, freezing temperatures and a whirlwind of unsupervised onlookers. Iowa City will provide insurance for the sculptures while they’re displayed, covering vandalism, theft or damage up to $10,000.

“Palimpsest” by V. Skip Willits at Riverfront Crossings Park, in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. — Adria Carpenter/Little Village

For the proposal, an artist must submit:

Artist’s bio and resume/CV

Brief statement or explanation of the proposed sculpture and other information related to the materials, installation needs, and potential siting

Photos or renderings of multiple views of the proposed sculpture (with maximum of five images)

Two Professional references

“For years, [the city has] supported the arts and economic development through the funding of Englert Theatre, Riverside Theatre, Summer of the Arts, and many other arts-oriented organizations,” Ford said. “Whether it’s the public art you might see along the trails or the murals, or whether it’s the offerings of the Englert or FilmScene, when your community has this sort of rich artistic depth, I guess, you’re going to be more attractive. And it’s all about attracting people and businesses to the community.”

PAAC will review submissions on June 2 and make its selections the week of June 6. Installation of the sculptures is scheduled for July 23 through Aug. 5, with a grand opening planned for Aug. 5.

“Cloud Form” by V. Skip Willits at Riverfront Crossings Park, in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. — Adria Carpenter/Little Village

Iowa City will oversee the installation process, including a plaque with the sculpture’s title, artist’s name and a QR code for the artist’s website and contact information. Artists will be responsible for delivery and installations, as well as any necessary repairs while the sculpture is on display.

Interested artists should submit their proposal through the online submission form posting on the city’s website.


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