Cedar Rapids Library Board Chooses N.Y. Sculptor for Plaza Art

By Rick Smith, Reporter

The Cedar Rapids Public Library common area will feature seating, book return, express computers for people to quickly check email, and the check out desk as well as a coffee shop. There will be a drive through lane both for the coffee shop and book return. Shot during a tour for the media of the new Cedar Rapids Public Library in downtown Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, October 9, 2012. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Cedar Rapids library board plans to award a $215,000 contract to a New York sculptor to create a work of art for the plaza in front of the city’s new downtown library.

Amber Mussman, spokeswoman for the library, on Wednesday said more than 330 artists submitted applications in a competition for the library contract, a competition that led to a library task force’s choice of sculptor Albert Paley for the art project.

Paley, a metal sculptor and distinguished professor in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology, is proposing a work of art about 18 feet high and 30 feet long that he calls "Regeneration," Mussman said.

Paley’s recent works include a 130-foot-long archway named Animals Always at the St. Louis Zoo, a gate at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and a sculpture created in 2007 called "Transformation" for the entrance to Iowa State University’s Morrill Hall. ln 2010, he built four free-standing sculptures for the 24th Street Bridge in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Paley’s pieces can be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The library’s Mussman said that the Paley sculpture is being financed with funds from private donors who specified that their donations be used for the purchase of art for the new building.

The contract with Paley calls for him to complete the installation of his sculpture by Aug. 30, 2013, about the time the new library is slated to open.

Task force members are Susan McDermott, library board president, library board member Jade Hart, Mussman, John Beckelman, Coe College art professor, Terry Pitts, executive director of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Heather Lynxwiler, OPN Architects, Jen Neumann, a member of the city’s Visual Arts Commission, and community members Kate Hawkins, Joan Thaler and Candace Wong.

The library board is slated to meet Friday afternoon to approve the contract with Paley.

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