Gateway To Council Bluffs Taking Shape

By: Ann McIntire Email
By: Ann McIntire Email

Head west on Interstate 80 and in a few hours you'll come upon the archway in Kearney. Pretty soon, you can head east and find another attraction, a gateway to Council Bluffs.

There are some major changes that will be happening along Interstate 80 as drivers head east into Council Bluffs and Iowa. There will be four large monuments put up on the corners of the 24th Street overpass. It will be a welcoming sign to the thousands of drivers who come through the area daily.

The new gateway to Council Bluffs will be made of huge mixed metal sculptures weighing from 46,000 to 70,000 pounds each. The artist who designed the abstract work is Albert Paley from New York.

"What I want to try to do is have the sculpture appropriate to the site and one thing that art has a tendency to do is to take what is commonplace, therefore invisible to people, and to give it a presence. It's great to see it full size. I'm working on models all the time, to see how it will go together so you don't paint yourself into a corner."

The sculptures will be installed in pieces because of their size. “We've done larger single sculptures, but as far as the total concept, this is the largest most comprehensive piece we've done," says Paley.

President of the Iowa West Foundation Todd Graham says the interstate site was suggested by Council Bluffs residents. "I think we'll have a very positive impact on millions of motorists as you can hear from the traffic. I think there's estimates of almost 100,000 cars a day."

The gateway sculptures will be the eighth piece of art installed as part of the Iowa West Foundation's initiative. Another is the Molecule Man near the Mid-America Center.

"We think art and culture is a very important part of the quality of life of our community, so we did a plan and we asked some members of the public to identify the best sites in their mind for public art, this is one of them," says Graham.

Work has already begun on the bridge and should be finished in a week or two. Visitors to the area say it's something to look forward to. “That will be wonderful, wonderful welcoming for people, into Iowa and Council Bluffs,” says Joan Scott of Macedonia, Iowa.

"Children love public art because they can touch it and this is art that can be touched,” says Scott. “It's very available to so many people, that's what's wonderful about public art."

Scott was visiting with friends and they decided to walk through the sculpture garden by Jun Kaneko.

The Iowa Department of Transportation does expect some delays along Interstate 80 as drivers take time to watch the construction going on. During construction, there will be some lane restrictions on 24th Street, though interstate lanes will not be affected. The sculptures will be assembled in pieces. Work on that begins Thursday.

"I think it is good, I think it's important that the surroundings bring out the creativity of people, it's a worthy investment,” says Chris Waltz.

"You need some visual stimulation when you're driving down the interstate, otherwise you'll get bored and you'll fall asleep and so why not?” wonders Verne Foje of Jefferson, Iowa.

Another art display is the Wellspring and Oculus colorful dome at Bayliss Park to go along with the fountain. "It's fascinating that somebody's got the talent to design something like this,” says Foje. “This is what's amazing."

Click here for more on the new gateway to Council Bluffs. There's no stopping the movement as more than 50 sites have been designated for public art to be filled in the future.

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