Premier Event: Art on the River is Back with ‘Resiliency Flows’

by Connie Cherba

One of Dubuque’s favorite public art displays is back! The theme selected for the 15th edition of Art on the River is “Resiliency Flows.” The selected sculptures portray what it means to be resilient as we continue to fight for social justice and rebound from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the 2020-21 Art on the River.

Jenni Petersen-Brant, City of Dubuque Arts & Cultural Affairs Coordinator, said, “Last year would have officially been the 15-year anniversary. We geared up for it, but we had to cancel because of COVID-19. We’re really excited to bring it back.”

The theme “Resiliency Flows” is a perfect fit for a post pandemic public art exhibition set on the banks of the Mississippi River.

“It’s resiliency in terms of communities coming back, arts and culture coming back, and the community of Dubuque being resilient and the idea of building back better as we come out of COVID-19,” said Jenni.

“It’s nice to feel that resiliency and rebound from the artist community in how they responded to our call for artists,” Jenni explained. “The exhibition drew 56 entries – up significantly over past years.”

In past years, professional curators or panels of public art experts from outside the community have been tasked with recommending which sculptures would be included in the exhibit. This year, the community planning committee chose to work with a panel of local residents with expertise in areas related to public art and sustainability initiatives.

Ten of the eleven sculptures are available for purchase with a portion of sale proceeds returning to Art on the River for future programming.

The Opening Reception for the 2021-22 Art on the River exhibit is set for Friday, August 6 from 5 PM to 7 PM at the Grand River Center, along the Mississippi Riverwalk in the Port of Dubuque. A program at 5:30 PM will feature comments from Dubuque Mayor Buol, City staff, and others. The evening’s festivities will include food, drink, and a cash bar. The Dubuque Urban Sketchers along with spoken word and performance artists will be part of the evening’s entertainment along with engagement activities offered by Heritage Works Inc. and other local arts and culture organizations.

The Art on the River Opening Reception is a free, public event and all are welcome. Come down to the river and be among the first to view the new sculptures and meet the artists who created them. Attendees are encouraged to download the free GPS-enabled audio OtoCast app to read or hear interviews with the artists.

The Art on the River public art exhibit is located along the Mississippi Riverwalk in the Port of Dubuque. The exhibit is free to experience and informational brochures are available at kiosks located near the middle and the south end of the Riverwalk. For more information, visit CityOfDubuque.org/311/Art-on-the-River.

Art on the River 2021-22 Sculptures

Mary Angers, Sun to Moon Rotation: This sculpture is about recording the shapes of the sun and its rays and is about how these rays flow to make those shapes. The Sun to Moon Rotation is also kinetic with the center sun disc going around with the wind. The theme is about how resilient the energy from the sun and its rays are.

Purchase Price: $10,000

Brian Petrone, Downstream: The bamboo site-specific art installation proposed here would depict the Mississippi River and its major tributaries. This sculpture would consist of hundreds of bamboo posts, staked into the ground, creating a three-dimensional map of the watershed. Much like the connectivity of people on this continent, the flow of water through a single tributary can have profound effects downstream.

Gail Chavanelle, Resilient Generations: This powder coated plate steel sculpture speaks thru design. In its very construction, Resilient Generations addresses the necessity of conservation and the importance of no waste as there is no material waste in the creation of the sculpture. Resilience cannot be just a point in time recovering from a pandemic. Americans must rebuild better on all social and environmental issues. Conservation and no waste are such important issues for sustained resilience.

Purchase Price: $8,500

Tim Adams, Seda: All rocks are connected in a cycle of creation, change, and destruction called the rock cycle. Sedimentary rock can be deeply buried, subjected to heat and pressure, which over time, cause it to change its structure into a new rock, a metamorphic rock. The rock cycle reflects life. Like rocks, we can be ground down and then emerge from challenges with a new form or strength as seen in this black and stainless steel sculpture with native stones.

Purchase Price: $2,500

Matt Moyer, Stalk 10052REH400-2 (Covid Corn to Go): The welded steel sculpture with aluminum food serve pans is part of a larger series of sculptures exploring the interaction between the industrialization, mechanization and increased chemicalization of our natural environment. This work explores persistence in the face of adversity and caustic environmental challenges. It also portrays a sense of adaptability and survival too.

Purchase Price: $4,900

Mary Angers, The Single Twist: The Single Twist is about resiliency flowing. It serves to mathematically answer the question of what happens to a plane when it has an object hit it and cause it to curve or turn. The resulting stainless steel shape tries to be resilient to the object of force. It shows a nice flow to this resilient shape.

Purchase Price: $10,000

Tim Adams, Coral: This upcycled steelpiece symbolizes our symbiotic relationship to nature. How do we live on this planet and still preserve and protect it so we can continue to survive? Nature has been resilient over the years but have humans pushed nature too far? This is the question of our lifetime. How is resilience open to change and will we meet nature in this give and take relationship?

Purchase Price: $3,500

Luke Achterberg, Scalar: Flow and connections are a constant source of inspiration for the stainless steel sculpture painted with acrylic automotive paint. Without genuine connections, we can’t progress as a human species. The sculpture has elements of flow that are visually obvious with forms that create ideas to become connected. It is through connecting positive ideas that we create a society that flourishes and is beautiful.

Purchase Price: $12,000

Christine Murphy, Mother Earth: The cast bronze vision represents the natural artistry and beauty that Mother Nature, the greatest artist of all, has lain before us. An unusual trait for a fine art sculpture, she is actually a bench also. Mother Earth embraces us, feeds us, gives us nourishment and strength, and gives us all an equal chance at life.

Purchase Price: $65,000

Evan Lewis, Three Liner: Three Liner is a wind-activated kinetic sculpture. The most compelling aspect of kinetic work is the motion. The energy source – the wind – is invisible, and that makes the sculpture take on a lifelike quality of a creature swimming upstream or flying upwind.

This kinetic sculpture with welded pipe and rebar, stainless steel, aluminum sheet connects naturally with Resiliency Flows. The overall appearance of the piece is that of a flowing, flying, or swimming creature.

Purchase Price: $15,000

Kirk Seese, Pluma Sculptura, aka “The Feather”: The Feather is my debut sculpture design from 2019. It is a direct response to the years of representational work and is an inspiring vision. It’s vertical and triumphant spire represents upward motion towards a better future. I wanted to create something that was not based in reality, had no reference point, and seemed to come from a different planet.

The process of creating the swirling color fields is therapeutic. The organic motions of the blended hues contained by the stark, black, geometric framework should be visually unnerving, but instead compliment each other.

Retail Price: $7,500

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