New Metal Sculptures Sprout in Iowa City Parks

Wings of change by Hilde DeBruyne, on the Iowa River Trail. – Adria Charpentier/Petit Village

Butterfly wings, metal flowers and abstract figures. Eight new sculptures are now standing in Iowa City parks and trails for the second Showcase of sculptures.

The first showcase, which ran from August 2021 to July 2022, included three sculptures in Riverfront Crossings Park, one in Terry Trueblood Recreation Area and one in Mercer Park.

“This year we added three new sculpture blocks, for a total of eight,” said Wendy Ford, economic development and public art coordinator for Iowa City.

Two new sculptures adorn the Iowa River Trail, which connects Riverfront Crossings and Terry Trueblood. Another was installed in Scott Park, next to Rita’s Ranch Dog Park.

The program, organized by the Iowa City Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC), helps elevate local artists. During the summer application period, the committee evaluated 15 applications.

“We’ve had some really good apps,” Ford said. “We had a very good selection this year.”

The previous sculptures were removed in July by the artists and the public did not want them to go, Ford said.

“When I was with artists taking down sculptures from last year, people would come and say, ‘Oh, are you moving that? Oh no, I love that. I love that sculpture, don’t take it down “, she said. “And then they would also be pleasantly surprised that there was a new one and something else to watch.

Three artists featured in last year’s showcase return with new sculptures, and two new artists will exhibit their work.

Webster Town Artist Tim Adams’ sculpture HOOPLa is now in Mercer Park near the playground. The aluminium, steel and lexan piece depicts a green figure holding the world above its head.

“Sometimes it can feel like we’re carrying the world on our shoulders, and other days we’re ready to take on the world!” Adams wrote in his application. “Remember to find a balance and roll with it!”

HOOPLa by Tim Adams, at Mercer Park. — Adria Charpentier/Petit Village

Adams, a professional landscape architect, was the artist behind Mercer Park’s previous sculpture, The other extreme, a red and orange metallic sun. Adams has dozens of sculptures throughout the Midwest. His work often features natural landforms and native plants, and he incorporates recycled metals and materials into his art.

Hilde De Bruynea Belgian-American artist based in Des Moines, exhibited two sculptures last year: Bloom at Terry Trueblood and sea ​​of ​​change at river crossings. She uses metal, clay and bronze materials, as well as murals, to reflect on nature and the cycle of life.

DeBruyne installed two more sculptures this year, both displayed on the Iowa River Trail. emerging is a steel structure painted in bright orange. This is part of his Metamorphosis series, which depicts the stages of a butterfly’s development. This sculpture shows the butterfly’s struggle to get out of the cocoon. Wings of change is a Corten steel piece that focuses on the wings of the butterfly.

emerging by Hilde DeBruyne, on the Iowa River Trail. — Adria Charpentier/Petit Village

Another returning artist is V. Skip Willits. He added two sculptures at Riverfront Crossings and another at Scott Park.

Figure is a 12-gauge, weather-resistant piece made from recycled steel from a Climax locomotive engine. It depicts a jagged human figure. However, River is a fluid sculpture. Willits used weather-resistant 11-gauge sheet steel, which he clamped and welded by hand.

Figure by V. Skip Willits, in Riverfront Crossings Park. — Adria Charpentier/Petit Village
River by V. Skip Willits, in Riverfront Crossings Park. “The river runs past me, the river runs over me, the river runs through me,” Willits writes of the sculpture. — Adria Charpentier/Petit Village

Figure and River are displayed in Riverfront Crossings. Chimerain Scott Park, is a multicolored statue made of corrugated steel wrapped and welded around a steel rod.

Willits, from Camanche, learned metalwork from his father, who was a shop welder for 40 years. He completed his first public sculpture in 1983. Since then, Willets has produced commissioned works across the United States, Canada and Europe.

Chimera by V. Skip Willits, at Scott Park. — Adria Charpentier/Petit Village

Kristin Garnant, also from Camanche, is a new artist in the showcase. His 16-foot sculpture let’s knowmade of thick steel rods and spiral steel, sways gently in the wind at Riverfront Crossings.

Garnant has a history in book design and construction, black and white photography, typography and offset printing. She uses this background in her metal artworks, layering and combining textures like handmade papers.

let’s know by Kristin Garnant, in Riverfront Crossings Park. – Adria Charpentier/Petit Village

The final sculpture is blooming succulent at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area. The large metal sculpture was designed by Cedar Rapids native and resident Mike Sneller. Sneller learned metalworking and sculpture while attending the University of Iowa

The outside of blooming succulent in oxidized red Corten steel, evokes an agave plant. The shiny stainless steel interior resembles a blooming yucca flower.

blooming succulent by Mike Sneller, at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area. – Adria Charpentier/Petit Village

The PAAC judged the entries based on a criterion of “artistic merit, creativity, public safety and outdoor durability”. The decision process was not easy, Ford said. Of the sculptures chosen, Ford cannot name a favorite.

“I don’t know if I could call a favorite on these,” she said. “I could never begin to tell. They all have their very good qualities.

Ford hopes the showcase will encourage residents to explore the parks and trails to see the new artwork. This year, the City will release a video production showing the installation process and interview the artists in a few weeks, in lieu of an open house. The sculptures will be on display until July 2023.