News & Updates

Fundraising lag pushes back diversity sculpture project

Sioux City Journal | 11/01/14

SIOUX CITY | An art installation promoting diversity at the Martin Luther King Jr. Transportation Center may have to be pushed back to next year as fundraising efforts continue.

So far, organizers have raised approximately $200,000 of the $500,000 needed to complete the Celebrating Community Project. But Flora Lee, president of the Celebrating Community Foundation, said the shortfall is only a delay.

The group commissioned McCook Lake artist Mark Avery to sculpt 13 bronze busts of public figures from marginalized communities, all to be displayed outside the transportation center at 509 Nebraska St. Backers had hoped to have funding in place this fall.

“If the fundraising doesn’t go the way we want it to, we’ll plan on having it done this spring,” said Lee. “Our target date is still this fall, though. We’re going to be optimistic and keep pushing.”

Lee said prospective donors can find ways to contribute at the organization’s website,

City Manager Bob Padmore said the city doesn’t have a deadline for the project and the center will be ready for the sculptures whenever they’re completed.

“We’re on their time frame,” he said. “Whenever they raise enough money, we’ll be ready to put it all up.”

Even with the likely delay, Avery said he’s making progress on the busts every day.

“I have seven done and I’m currently working on another one,” he said. “Seven of those are in clay form and one is already cast in bronze. We’re just going to keep working on them and continue on until we’re done.”

The busts will include such figures as Beulah Webb, who founded the Sioux City Senior Center, and Sgt. John Raymond Rice, a World War II veteran and member of the Winnebago tribe.

Aside from the busts, he’s also creating a large abstract sculpture to fill a green space on the site’s northern boundary.

“What I’m doing is building a big double arc that meets in the middle,” he said. “It’s going to be about 40 feet wide, and it’s meant to be symbolic of what Martin Luther King once said: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’”

The installation of the sculpture drew a few complaints when it was learned the project would require the removal of a few of the center’s ginkgo trees. Transit Administrator Mike Collett said the city has done its best to address the issue.

“We’ve tried to work around them, and we’ve found a way to reduce the number of trees the installation was going to take out,” he said.

He estimated that the final project would likely require the removal of only two to three trees, rather than the original six to seven.

As shown in Sioux City Journal’s 11/01/14 issue. Please visit Sioux City Journal – article for full article.