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Ideas for enhancing and promoting
visual arts in Cedar Rapids

On March 10, 2011, presenters pitched ideas on public art and improving the community during the
first-ever Cedar Rapids Ignite event.

Watch and rate their presentations below.

The event was hosted by the Cedar Rapids Visual Arts Commission. The purpose was to generate ideas,
dialogue and enthusiasm as well as partnerships in the community for public art and art projects.

Event Location

905 3rd Street SE,
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Date / Time

March 10, 2011
5:00 - 8:30 pm


(319) 861-7745

Artist project presentations (by schedule)

John Chehak , Structured chaos, 6:00 PM

Rated: beautiful, fascinating, ingenious, jaw-dropping, inspiring …

- Accept a commission to produce one or more, large (6 feet by 8 feet), 2-3 dimensional pieces of art, based on a design concept called structured chaos, that I feel depicts the state of Cedar Rapids years after the disastrous flooding. People have a firm handle on what the pieces of rebuilding are; yet need to put them all together in a productive manner. The location would be a public building or private office foyer. - Promote my Midwestern based, Cedar Rapids specific art to businesses and the city. Provide area businesses with a new fresh artistic look for their lobbies, offices or homes. If desired, I will personalize each painting to their ideas and concepts. - Provide a framed poster-size award to selected businesses that have promoted visual arts in Cedar Rapids. The digital print will include my "Structured Chaos" pictured above recognition verbiage to the recipient from the Visual Arts Commission. - Digitize local artists work onto large vinyl decals that can be placed on the inside of downtown businesses. I envision about 20 or 30 windows decorated with regional artists’ works. The decals with be similar to the decals used on cars and buses. - Promote digital displays that are environmentally secure and vandal resistant that would be placed in front of the Art Museum, Federal Building, New Convention Center, New Library, or other public places. These digital displays would showcase local artists’ talents, display event schedules or special productions involving the Art community. - Be commissioned to paint various buildings, landmarks, and interesting sites of the city of Cedar Rapids. Community Impact: This is a new fresh look for art in Cedar Rapids by a local artist.

John Schnipkoweit, From skywalks to artwalks, 6:00 PM

Rated: inspiring, ingenious, beautiful, fascinating, funny …

From SkyWalks to ArtWalks: Turn the SkyWalks into art galleries for local artists to show and sell their work. I see art hanging inside the SkyWalks, murals on the outside, paintings on the bottoms like the Sistine Chapel, and sculpture gardens on the roofs. To start, we could wall up the glass from the outside, use existing catwalks to curate, and hang the art in the space between the new exterior wall and the glass. The outside of these new exterior walls could be used for artistic advertising, mural space, etc. The bottoms are rusty and in need of a paint job, so why not insulate and then beautify them with portraits and murals. Imagine a visitor driving/walking down 3rd street, reading a vintage fine dining mural for Zin's, noticing a larger than life spoon with a cherry on top of the SkyWalk (as an example, based on Minneapolis' Sculpture Garden), and as you get closer you see more paintings underneath. This will change the way we use the SkyWalks, the way we look at them, the memories people have of Cedar Rapids, and the lives of many local artists. Art can change the world. Community Impact: I'm not sure if the SkyWalks were ever attractive; many describe them as cold corridors or pedestrian highways leading between the office and the car. Little children love them, but the novelty soon wears off - no one ever mentions them when inviting someone to Cedar Rapids. Currently they are all utility and horribly inefficient to heat and cool; lets fix both. Not only would my idea provide a canvas for local artists and a venue for them to sell their creations, but I believe it would make the SkyWalks in Cedar Rapids more efficient to maintain while turning them into a destination. The "empty" square footage in the SkyWalks could contain enough art to consume an entire weekend of exploring, both inside and out. Not only would sidewalk pedestrians be able to enjoy looking at the greener roofs with sculptures, but office workers could see them out their windows, helping them relax and forget the stress of their day. The available art space would provide a framework for many local artists to start and grow their careers. Local businesses could contract with local artists to make artistic advertising. These new SkyWalks would invite visitors to discover all that we have to offer. Come to Downtown Cedar Rapids and "take an art walk" to work, to your conference, to your condo, or even just for fun! For more: 3rd street: http://eagle.ovatn.net/home/jschnip/3rdstreet.png 3rd street bottom: http://eagle.ovatn.net/home/jschnip/3rdstreet-bottom.png Inside: http://eagle.ovatn.net/home/jschnip/inside.png Roof: http://eagle.ovatn.net/home/jschnip/roof.png

Brian E. Smith, Tableaux vivants, 6:00 PM

Rated: fascinating, unconvincing, inspiring, ingenious, beautiful …

Tableaux vivants is French for living paintings, where visual art and performance art meet. My idea is to bring several familiar and famous works of art "to life" through artist & community collaboration. Imagine seeing a living "American Gothic" or “Mona Lisa” before your eyes. Utilizing our experienced theatre resources, this can be achieved by artists creating an evening of "living art". Artists and models would work together to transform famous works into living, breathing paintings. The list of well-known images is almost endless. For example, recreations of Wood’s “Woman with Plant” next to Munch’s “The Scream”; Seurat’s “Dejeuner sur la Grande Jatte” across from Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” or Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware”. Whatever the images, it will be a unique experience for the spectator to be close to “life-like” recreations; certainly a memorable event. The presentation of the tableaux vivants would occur at a special event to perhaps coincide with Freedom Festival or Fire & Ice festivities or become its own event. The ideal location for the event would be in downtown Cedar Rapids storefronts. Resources would be dependent on the number of tableaux created. In general, a stipend would be needed for each artist to create their given image. Items needed would include materials for foreground & background, make-up, costumes, paint, etc. The tableaux will each be photographed to be reproduced then hung for a time afterward in place of the live art. The event would coordinate or coincide with special evenings at local restaurants and bars drawing visitors in to patronize their establishments. Community Impact: This would create a fire of excitement in our city by involving the community in a unique event. Many feel that art isn’t accessible. As we saw in 2001, many were drawn to the city with “Overalls All Over.” What made it successful was the project made art familiar and available to the masses. Similarly, tableaux vivants would bring art right in front of them in a live event. The event would also make art accessible to the viewer and bring to life works that they may have only seen in books. In researching this subject, I found that tableaux vivants have been around for some time. It has been a staple of the Laguna Beach, California’s Festival of Arts since the 1930s. It is known as the “Pageant of Masters” and draws thousands of spectators each year. Our own event could draw visitors each year transforming Cedar Rapids not only into a distinct urban hometown but a cultural destination.

Mel Andringa, Sidewalk mosaics as performance pads, 6:00 PM

Rated: beautiful, ingenious, ok, unconvincing, inspiring …

Humans have an irresistible urge to stand in, on, or at an iconic location (pose for a Kodak moment, next to a sign or on the X that marks the spot of a historic event.) And when that image is a symbol of some sort, like a musical note, a set of footprints, an animal or a celebrity, they will make a gesture or pose to indicate their personal relationship to the image (dance, pretend to sing, make a wish or a funny face). Kids do this naturally. Young people do it in groups. The rest of us do it when we’re being photographed or when we think nobody’s looking. I am proposing a series of sidewalk mosaics. Simple silhouette-shaped images, approximately three feet in diameter that would serve not only as visual enhancements to Cedar Rapids sidewalks, but as places for impromptu actions. Community Impact: The ‘performance pads’ I’m proposing would IGNITE CR with sparks of spontaneous street activity. I have some ideas for images, and a plan to place test pads in New Bohemia in 2011. I have made a presentation at the Ceramics Center about the Venetian mosaic workshop I attended, and expect to enlist the participation of local ceramists in developing materials and techniques for the fabrication of the pads. The bigger project is meant to be something that other artists would participate in. I don't think there will be a shortage of ideas for images from the general public either, once the project gets underway. The project could grow with the development of guidelines and a selection process for ideas, locations and designs. And I would use my experience as a teacher, juror and curator to shepherd the project along.

LaDawn Edwards, Native landscaping, 6:00 PM

Rated: beautiful, ok, unconvincing, inspiring

Our group plans to complete the other "bookend" for our primary entrance/exit and develop native landscaping at the southbound I-380 exit onto Kirkwood Blvd SW. This location is harder for crews to access, but has more local visibility, including thousands per month who regularly pass it as they head to Iowa City. Materials include the actual trees, shrubs and plants we will be installing. All of these native plants are considered low maintenance and salt resistant by IDOT. We hope to solicit community support for future landscaping projects at various locations along Interstate 380 and a number of other green improvements in the metro area. A similar private-public partnership has helped to beautify the roadsides of both Des Moines and Davenport in recent years. Community Impact: Developing a polished, coherent look at both ends of Interstate 380 projects an image of sophistication and sense of place, even to those who just spend 20 minutes passing through Cedar Rapids. We believe that by giving visitors a sight of beautiful native plants and flower, even at 60 mph, we create a positive impression of Cedar Rapids and generate a desire to know the city better. Because so many of our most influential visitors (including presidential candidates, decision makers for business relocation, etc.) arrive by air and I-380 is the primary conduit from the Eastern Iowa Airport, this proposed planting offers a strong first impression of Cedar Rapids. For those of us who call CR home, it reinforces the idea that we deserve beauty in our lives. I know that I'm looking forward to passing this new planting every day when I drive in to my Kirkwood classes. Our landscape architect, Diane Hoefer, is a landscape architect major at Kirkwood who submitted this design for her honors project last year. She worked closely with Eric Shepley of Hall & Hall Engineers, who donated his services for the demonstration project in Hiawatha.

Lynn Ocken, A trail of murals, 6:00 PM

Rated: inspiring, ingenious, unconvincing, beautiful, ok …

Our mission is to create a trail of murals connecting the greater Cedar Rapids area that unveils history, encourages community participation and celebrates the spirit with the culture of our neighborhoods. In ordered to bring this to fruition, we intend to use local structural architecture as the framework incorporating a variety of historical themes and public art designs to reveal the “who” and the “what” of this community. Our slogan “murals and more” is used to indicate our intent to seek art from a variety of mediums. Our use of the word “trail” implies there will be a progression from one art piece to the next connecting all installations both in theme and time periods. As our mission also indicates, we believe community involvement is of the highest priority and therefore our community-based project encourages a diverse network of citizens to communicate their civic pride through participation Community Impact: This entire project began with and continues to stress the importance to our community. Not only have we incorporated community in our mission statement, but we believe the community will be impacted regardless of how individuals or groups become involved. By depicting and preserving our community’s history, we instill a sense of pride in who and what we are all about. Educational opportunities abound for people of all ages from school age to senior citizens. The partnerships that are possible between individuals, businesses, government officials and neighborhoods will encourage connections and ownership. The public art can revitalize our city streetscapes and in time, make Cedar Rapids a cultural destination. Tourism will be increased. Citizens can stroll from one location to the next enjoying the visual experience, discussing and learning from each piece. Using local artists and vendors whenever possible adds to our community’s economy. Increased traffic downtown will also benefit local businesses. We believe the mural trail project will “IGNITE” excitement and make Cedar Rapids a more vibrant, progressive cultural destination. The excitement has already begun. With the support of our community, it can only continue to grow.

Todd Sabin , History of flight in Cedar Rapids, 6:00 PM

Rated: ingenious, fascinating, inspiring, beautiful, unconvincing …

I propose a large scale wall piece or possibly a mobile paying homage to the history of flight in Cedar Rapids; from the Wrights to Rockwell. I would be using individual pieces made from recycled materials and representing milestones in aviation history. My presentation includes ideas for locations such as Greene Square Park, the 3rd Avenue Parkade, Mays Island, and several others. Community Impact: Young and old have been fascinated by flight. Cedar Rapids has been involved from the beginning (Wrights) to the present (Rockwell). This idea will encourage people to let their imaginations take flight.

Conifer Smith, The medium of glass is transmutable, 6:00 PM

Rated: beautiful, inspiring, ok

The medium of glass is transmutable. This fluid medium can, in turns, be somber, calming, exciting, cheerful, serene, or dangerous. Glass can be completely opaque, brilliantly translucent, or absolutely transparent. It can exist in any combination of colors, two or three dimensions, and an almost endless variety of forms. Sculptural glass installations constantly change with changing light and can cast prisms of color, shadows filled with colored shapes, and reflections which enliven the space. I propose site-specific glass sculpture, either suspended, wall hung, floor supported, or floor to ceiling as part of the Five Seasons Hotel remodel or another suitable indoor public gathering space. The design process would need to take in account the conditions (size, lighting, airflow, and traffic patterns) found in that particular space. Community Impact: Cedar Rapids is of sufficient size and stature to warrant more glass art than it currently has. Installations, like those I am proposing, can help define a community's identity, heighten people's awareness, transform a space or, over time, even transform a city's image. By introducing people to works of art that can somehow touch them, the quality of life within the city is enhanced. Although I was raised in Iowa, I have lived in the east and the west of the United States. Research has taken me to Greece, China, France, England, Turkey and the Caribbean. As a local artist with a global view, a large glass art installation will bring pride to the community and encourage Cedar Rapids to both seek out and value the artists in the region. Lastly, I am teaching hot glass classes as part of the three-dimensional art program at Kirkwood Community College, classes which the Cedar Rapids community can easily access.

Casey Prince, arts + culture + entertainment: connect the dots, 6:00 PM

Rated: ingenious, inspiring, ok, fascinating, funny …

arts + culture + entertainment : connect the dots - Redefine urban trails as linear parks. - Redefine parking structures as art installations. - Redefine Third Street downtown with bold, human-centric revisions. Community Impact: - Trails: infusion of opportunities for artists; relatively inexpensive creation of gathering places. - Parking structures: relatively inexpensive way to change the landscape and skyline. - Third Street: embrace it as the main street of our vibrant urban hometown and the shift in how this community views itself and its shared experiences will be transformational. Compared to budgets of the projects that dot the map on or near the street, the cost of such a transformation would be relatively small. Because it would better connect many of those projects, the impact would be extraordinary.

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