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Since its inception, the Iowa West Foundation's grant program has awarded more than $300 million to improve the quality of life in our region. These stories highlight some of these grants and show the impact they make on our community.

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“The Boy” at Roberts Park: From line drawing to bigger than life

July 24, 2014

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“Art in the Park” is an Iowa West Foundation initiative to replace weathered park identification signs at five community parks. The project is being coordinated by the Council Bluffs Parks, Recreation, and Public Property Department with assistance from the City Public Art Commission. These signs, all created by area artists, were developed with public input and overseen by art curator Joel Damon.


The land on which Roberts Park sits today was gifted to the city of Council Bluffs by the founder and owner of Robert’s Dairy, J. Gordon Roberts in 1955. Less than a mile from the Missouri River on the city’s northwest side, it’s the city park everyone is always talking about.

Artist Michael Beitz incorporated the fact that the word is out about Roberts Park into the new signage directly translated from a line drawing into steel. The sculpture, “The Boy,” changes from near transparency from the side to a 14-foot vertical drawing depending on the viewer’s location. By capturing the hand-drawn quality, the painted steel sign delivers the message that Roberts Parks is a fun, active space. It has transformed residents’ opinions of what a park sign could be.

blog-thumbnail-robertspark.jpgBecause the new signage is crafted from a line drawing, the viewer can see the park landscape through the sign. Surrounded by mature trees, Roberts Park features a baseball diamond, soccer field, four tennis courts and a playground. Park visitors can pack a picnic to enjoy on one of the multiple open-use green spaces, where pickup football games and large gatherings are often held, along with the annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt. Residents of the Roberts Park neighborhood are one big, extended family and can be found frequenting the park all year long, but especially in the spring and summer months.

The sculpture stands as a new attraction to an already attractive park and will be a cornerstone for future growth and improvements.

“My hope is that it helps create a fun atmosphere for the park, while promoting what I believe to be the most important thing in the world, which is drawing,” said Beitz, whose work can also be seen at The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha.

Other "Art in the Park" signage includes:
Kirn Park
Big Lake Park
Cochran Park
Westwood Park


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