Sioux City Journal | 6/25/15
by: Greg Forbes
Photo by: Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal
SIOUX CITY | Curved steel beams, painted russet brown and soaring to a peak, form an eyecatching and symbolic new feature on Nebraska Street.
The sculpture, called “the arc” by creator Mark Avery, is the first piece to be installed in the Celebrating Community Project at the Martin Luther King Jr. Transportation Center.
The project is intended as a tribute to men and women who have worked to provide equality for overlooked groups in the community.
“This shows you don’t have to be a prominent figure to be a hero,” said steering committee member LeeAnn Kurtz-Gill.
Avery, of McCook Lake, said he designed the arc as an abstract sculpture inspired by King’s quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
“It’s so joyful starting it from a sketch and now to see it full scale,” he said Thursday as the arc was installed on the east side of the transportation center, at the corner of Fifth and Nebraska streets.
The arc will tie together 13 bronze busts, also sculpted by Avery, depicting local leaders who have represented marginalized groups in the community.
Avery said the first four busts will be installed later this summer and dedicated in October.
The first to be installed will be of Rabbi Albert Gordon, representing Jewish-Americans; Beulah Webb, representing the elderly; Sgt. John Rice, representing military veterans; and Connie Spain, representing those in recovery from substance abuse.
Avery said the rest of the busts will be installed as fundraising allows. He said the steering committee aims to complete the project by next summer.
The project is a joint effort of the nonprofit Celebrating Community Foundation, Mark Avery Studios, the Sioux City NAACP and the city of Sioux City.
So far, Kurtz-Gill said, the effort has raised about $260,000, with a final goal of about $570,000.
She said she hopes the public will embrace the project as it comes together.
“We wanted to do it in a couple different parts to gain momentum and enthusiasm from the public so they can see what we’re doing and share in the enthusiasm,” she said.
The arc will be fully assembled by Friday, Avery said.
As shown in Sioux City Journal’s 06-25-2015 issue. Please visit Sioux City Journal – article for full article and photos.
‘‘A marvelous artist in many forms, he first blessed us with a life size sculpture of three children (the model’s were taken from an old Avery family photo of Mark and two of his siblings standing together) resting a top a marble stand. We placed the sculpture inside the entrance to our agency, and it was the first thing folks saw as they walked into the building. Children would run to the sculpture and feel the faces, hands and arms, and look at the expressions on the faces of those children. That one piece of Art communicated more about who we were as an organization, than any form of written words could ever do. It created trust, peace, gentleness, concern, beauty, and connectedness in an instant. It also lowered anxiety, fear, and distrust, with everyone that walked through our doors and was the greatest communicator of our "first impression."" ”