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Artwork selected for North Cedar area of Cedar Falls

Artwork selected for North Cedar area of Cedar Falls

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CEDAR FALLS — A city committee is “feathering the nest” of the North Cedar area with a new public art project.

The steel sculpture, called “Nest” and built by St. Louis artist Tommy Riefe, will be located in the North Cedar Natural Resource Area off Center Street. Work will begin next spring, and the piece will probably be installed in the late spring or early summer of 2017.

The Cedar Falls City Council approved a contract for the project last week. Riefe will be paid about $40,000 for the work. An additional $10,000 will go toward footings, foundation and landscaping. The city’s Public Art Committee receives a portion of city hotel-motel tax funds and has a balance of about $100,000 to cover those costs.

“We got probably 15 applications,” said Kristina Mehmen, a Public Art Committee member who headed up the selection process. A subcommittee of that group, with representatives from the North Cedar Neighborhood Association, narrowed the field to three finalists who made public presentations. The committee selected Riefe’s work.

“Nest” was selected because it fit into the overall theme of the North Cedar Natural Resource Area, 16 acres of green space with trails, natural habitat and an outdoor classroom created following the 2008 flood in cooperation with the Black Hawk County Conservation Board.

“The committee really liked it and talked about art as place to meditate and reflect,” Mehmen said.

She said Riefe will begin fabricating the work on the University of Northern Iowa campus near the end of the upcoming academic year.

Sue Beach of the North Cedar Neighborhood Association said, “We’re very pleased with the artist we selected and the Public Art Committee taking the lead and helping North Cedar with this project.”

“I think it’s terrific,” said First Ward City Council member Mark Miller, a former president of the North Cedar association. “You leave it to the artist to interpret what kind of piece is going in there. But I think he nailed it.”

While the sculpture is not intended as a play structure, Mehman and Miller said it could be used for sitting and reading, walking through or other passive activities.

In March, the Public Art Committee, formed in 1999, redoubled its efforts to locate public art projects around the city after fundraising for a sculpture at a roundabout on West Ridgeway Avenue bogged down.

A kinetic artwork by Utah artist Lyman Whitaker recently was installed along Waterloo Road in front of Cedar Falls Utilities.

Another to-be-determined artwork is proposed at 412 Main St. on the Parkade.

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