Art For Everyone

Above: “In-the-Loop”

Photographer: Dennis Reynolds

Downtown’s art scene continues to thrive, with two new additions in the East Village. 

“In-the-Loop,” a 60-foot-long, 2,500-pound public artwork, commands attention on the east side of the Metro Waste Authority building (300 E. Locust St.). Created by award-winning artist and urban designer Dennis Reynolds, the work serves as both a functional gate 

between the sidewalk and the agency’s parking lot and an interactive sculpture with movable pieces. “In-the-Loop,” consisting of colorful circular forms and wheels, is made from industrial and agricultural equipment found at local landfills and salvage yards.

Metro Waste commissioned the piece to honor its 50th anniversary and to reflect its mission of preserving resources. “As I researched [the agency’s] mission, I found a diagram of circles on their website showing the importance of recycling,” Reynolds says. “I started to look for anything that was circular and could be repurposed into a public art piece while representing the circular cycle of sustainable practices.”

To find the right materials and pieces for the work, Reynolds says he spent a lot of time in industrial salvage yards, “wading through the weeds, meeting feral cats and hearing colorful stories.” He praises Lou Rizzuti and the craftsmen at Artistic Iron Works for “figuring out how to build it.” Wes Jarnigan Painting and Ferris Construction also contributed to the project. 

Angela Chrusciaki Blehm, “Red Ribbon;” acrylic on wood. An exhibit showcasing her work will open July 19 at Liz Lidgett Gallery and Design.

Reynolds says he wanted the piece to “fit the context of the East Village and the mural [by artist Chris Vance] that Metro Waste had commissioned earlier. I hope people enjoy [the sculpture’s] playful character and the opportunities for interaction with various ‘widget’ wheels. We were still installing it and people were taking selfies and group pictures, while moms stopped so their kids could explore it and spin the widgets.” 

A block north and west of the sculpture, Liz Lidgett Gallery and Design opened in May. The 1,100-square-foot gallery, owned by art adviser Liz Lidgett, represents 15 emerging and midcareer local, national and international artists, all of them newly represented in Iowa. 

“We’re very excited to introduce Iowa audiences to these artists and the artists to Iowa,” Lidgett says. “So far, the artists have been blown away by the reaction they’ve received and how engaged and interested people are in their work.” 

Artists represented include Hunt Slonem, Kevin Brent Morris (see page 12), Lino Lago (see page 39), and Des Moines-based Olivia Valentine. An exhibit featuring the work of Georgia artist Angela Chrusciaki Blehm (see opposite page) will open July 19. “It’s going to be a colorful, fun exhibit with a lot of design,” Lidgett says. “She’s definitely one of our biggest-name artists.”

Lidgett notes that the gallery’s representation will consist of at least 50 percent female artists. She adds that every quarter, a portion of revenue will be donated to local or national arts organizations. 

Most of all, Lidgett is “passionate about making people feel welcome in the art world and in this space,” she says. “Too many people have a fear of looking stupid because they don’t know about art or how to buy it. We want everyone to know they are welcome here.” 

The gallery is located in the new four-story mixed-use building at 111 E. Grand Ave.

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