Iowa City "Bomb" Artist: I Was Shocked

By Mark Carlson, reporter


By Mark Carlson

IOWA CITY, Iowa - An Iowa City poet and artist says he was shocked to learn a piece of his artwork shutdown much of downtown Iowa City Sunday night, just as the Iowa Arts Festival was wrapping up.

“I got this call from my landlord and it’s like, no problem, you’re not in any trouble, but you know the police are looking for you, right?” Russell Jaffe, 29, recalled of a phone call informing him of the situation. “I’m like, no.”

Jaffe is the man who created the piece of “smashed-up media” art that initially was feared to be a bomb after a security worker discovered it inside a newspaper stand late Sunday afternoon near the corner of Dubuque and Washington Streets. The Johnson County Metro Bomb Squad used a robotic water cannon to destroy the artwork. The spectacle was viewed by dozens of curious onlookers after police cordoned the area off.

Jaffe said he was in Chicago wrapping up a tour promoting his poetry when he received the call. Initially investigators did not tell him why they wanted to speak with him, leading to a long drive back to Iowa City.

“I read about it on my friends Facebook,” Jaffe said. “[I thought] I hope nobody is hurt, I hope nobody is killed, I hope the town is okay. Second [I thought] if this is a prank, what a horrible, sick prank.”

Jaffe said he recently auctioned off the piece after an art show. The buyer, who police did not identify publically, is believed to have put the article in the stand, which is used to exchange items with others in the community. As an added bonus, Jaffe included a piece of poetry, which in-part read: “It is you making a huge mistake” and “Still, I miss you.”

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