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Leadership Notes

“Big Mo” Big Deal for Council Bluffs

December 10, 2014


Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park is now home to a 75’ 8’ steel sculpture that goes by the name of “Big Mo.”

Designed by world-renowned artist Mark di Suvero — whose works are all over the United States as well as in Germany, France and Japan — Big Mo is painted di Suvero’s signature “Spacetime Orange.”

Some of you may love “Big Mo.” Others may not. That’s okay — that’s art. However, there’s no doubt that “Big Mo” is a big deal for Council Bluffs.

In 2004, the Iowa West Foundation funded a community-wide public art master planning process that included citizens, government representatives and Foundation leaders. This became the Iowa West Public Art initiative (IWPA). “Big Mo” is the twelfth installment in the series that includes “Wellspring,” the Bayliss Park fountain; “Gateway,” located on the viaduct bridge; and “Rays,” the interactive lightening environment on the Great Lawn at River’s Edge Park.

Why public art, anyway? Well, because being home to a notable public art collection attracts visitors to our city. When visitors tour the area, they also dine in our restaurants, enjoy entertainment nearby and sleep in local hotels. This is a real boost to the local economy, which in turn strengthens our workforce and encourages people to reside here in Council Bluffs. More residents mean stronger revenue resources. And that’s good news for the city that’s home to public art.

In addition, strong public art gives communities a stronger sense of place and identity. It helps us on our mission to be a city where people want to live and visit. When we think about memorable places, we think about iconic art like the St. Louis Arch and The Bean in Chicago.

While I don’t expect every single person to connect with every single piece of art in the IWPA collection, I do hope every single person realizes how special and, most importantly, unique this collection is. Internationally recognized, large-scale art can be found freely accessible in our own backyard! That’s something not only for Iowans to take pride in, but our neighbors as well. This is a regional asset.

We need to continue to think regionally as we further develop the Riverfront. This is a great asset and there is huge potential for the area in the coming years if everyone works together to develop it to its fullest potential. There is great energy around the Riverfront and “Big Mo” sends a big signal that exciting progress is happening here.

Pete Tulipana, President, and CEO

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