Guttenberg city officials signed an agreement last month with artist Victoria Reed for a public sculpture planned for the 500 block of South River Park Drive, in the city's large park along the Mississippi River.
The agreement is the result of several years of work on a project for which Guttenberg was chosen. The city is one of 15 towns selected to participate in an Our Town grant from the National Endowment of the Arts awarded to Northeast Iowa RC&D. The required $15,000 has been raised, so the project is charted for completion in May of 2018.
Guttenberg’s Umbrella Arts donated $2,500 to the project, and other contributions came from the Byways of Iowa Foundation ($4,000), the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs ($1,000), the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation ($2,500), and the Clayton County Foundation for the Future ($1,000). The remaining $4,500 was given by local donors, endowments and funds.
After some debate, it was decided that the sculpture should be placed at an angle in the park, just north of Picket Fence, to minimize any obstruction of the river view. Artist Victoria Reed met with city officials recently to finalize the exact location. The sculpture has been scaled back from 16 feet in length to 12 feet in order to better accommodate the size of the location. Guttenberg resident Chris Schoen is conducting an archaeological survey of the site, which is required by the State Historic Preservation Office.
“I am getting so excited about this project finally moving into the fabrication stage,” said Mallory Marlatt, Northeast Iowa RC&D project coordinator. The sculpture is a stainless steel walleye with scales resembling a map of Guttenberg’s streets. “Like many things that are often overlooked, the walleye has a subtle beauty, and in that, a metaphor particular to this place. In its scales is a pattern it inherited, and a sheen; it is its nature only, a thought inseparable from the river itself. This is why I have designed the proposed piece to carry a map of Guttenberg hidden in its patterning, because the people, the land, and the river define each other here, and in that there is a profound beauty, subtle and natural,” the artist explained.
Reed earned her BFA from the University of Northern Iowa in 2010 and her MFA from the University of Wisconson in 2016. She’s the co-founder and co-owner of 20-Ton Studio, a collaborative art space located in Milwaukee, Wis., and she currently works as a metallurgical lab technician at Johnson Brass and Machine, a Wisconsin foundry that specializes in copper alloys, centrifugal castings and machining.
The artwork was chosen to improve the public space in which it is located and to strategically reflect the physical character and culture of Guttenberg. “Together, the 15 art pieces throughout Iowa will create a body of art that epitomizes the culture and character of 15 small Iowa communities along Iowa’s scenic byways,” said Marlatt.
Readers should watch for an unveiling of the new public artwork as completion nears.
Image courtesy of the artist, Victoria Reed.