Unveiling of Ped Mall art installation set for Thursday at FilmScene

The Black Hawk mini park is located on the north end of the Ped Mall. -- photo by Drew Bulman
Black Hawk Mini Park is located on the north end of Iowa City’s Ped Mall. — photo by Drew Bulman

This Thursday at FilmScene at 5:30 p.m., the City of Iowa City is inviting members of the public to catch an early glimpse of a new public art project set for installation in the Ped Mall’s Black Hawk Mini Park in 2017. The art installation, developed by internationally known artist and architect Cecil Balmond of the London-based Balmond Studio, represents an early phase of Iowa City’s Downtown Streetscape Plan.

26 artists responded to the city’s 2014 request for public art proposals, after which the Iowa City Public Art Advisory Committee and Artist Selection Committee narrowed the field down to just three artists. Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator Marcia Bollinger says Iowa City’s public art committees took a liking to Balmond after hearing his vision for working within the existing space. Balmond has a knack for creating installations specifically designed for the communities — and spaces — they inhabit, according to Bollinger, so much so that identifying common themes across his various installations is exceedingly difficult.

“He’s a brilliant individual, and he expresses himself very well. I think anybody who has interacted with him … can see that,” said Bollinger, noting that Balmond plans to use locally-sourced materials whenever possible while creating the installation. “He really does put a lot of thought into his artwork.”

Balmond’s work has appeared in numerous countries across the world, including Italy, Sri Lanka, Japan, France and the United States. His Iowa City installation will be a permanent fixture, with installation set for 2017.

Bollinger says a community fundraising campaign will take place at a later date, though details have not been confirmed at this time.

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