News & Updates

“CELEBRATING COMMUNITY SCULPTURE PARK” Will Honor Those Who Advocated for Justice and Equality in Sioux City, Iowa

Sculptures Pacific Magazine | 2014/2015 Issue 10
Pages: 18-20

2015 is the target date for opening the Celebrating Community Sculpture Park where thirteen bronze sculptures by Artist Mark Avery will have a permanent home at the Martin Luther King Transportation Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The Park will honor the strength, commitment and fortitude of common, ordinary people who represent the best of humanity in the Sioux City area.

The idea of the park was conceived by Mark Avery, whose bronze bust of Martin Luther King was installed at the Transportation Center in 2009.

“These are people who have taken selfless action to help those that have marginalized in our community,” said Jan Poulson, Celebrating Community Project Steering Committee Member.  “They will be honored for demonstrating an unrivaled commitment to helping others.  Some have accomplished small tasks that are great and noble, and others have made a positive difference through acts of courage and sacrifice.  The only thing they have in common is that they have given their energy and heart to advocate for equal opportunity and justice for the members of their community.”

In March 2013, Avery and his wife, Terri, with the co-sponsorship of the Sioux City NAACP, formed the non-profit Celebrating Community Foundation.  The Celebrating Community project was then proposed to city community leaders.

Thirteen committees representing marginalized populations in Sioux City were each invited to select one honoree.  The committees represent a broad cross-section of the community, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Jewish Americans, Native/Indigenous Americans, Asian Americans, Elderly, Women, Children, the Homeless, Veterans, Disabled Americans, Victims of Domestic Violence, and those Recovering from Additions/Substance Abuse.

Five honorees have been announced, and the names of eight additional honorees will be released in upcoming months.  Those selected include Marilyn Murphy, who advocated on behalf of women in poverty and in abusive environments.  Connie Spain, who advocated for those recovering from alcoholism and drug addition by founding halfway houses and local treatment centers.  Sgt. John Rice, a decorated veteran of WWII and the Korean War who was killed in action.  He was refused burial in Sioux City because he was Native American, which is a powerful example of racism and that sacrifices made by our military veterans are often discounted or dismissed when their service is completed.  Rabbi Albert Gordon, a spiritual teacher, and one of the founders of the Sioux City Human Rights Commission; and Beulah Webb, considered a pioneer and moving force behind many senior citizen programs in the Sioux City area including the senior center, housing, and education.

Each sculpture will be placed on a granite base with a plaque describing the honorees work.  The plaque will include a QR code that enables smart phone access for additional information about the life of each subject on the website.

Although Mark Avery is the lead artist for the project, other artists have been employed to work on fabrication of a steel sculpture, formed as an arc, and inspired by a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”  The arc will span 45-feet wide and 23-feet tall and consist of 65 beams that will be welded into various curved shapes.

The $536,000 project budget includes the steel sculpture, LED Lighting for the arc and other sculptures; granite bases, artist fees, certified engineering, landscaping, exterior and interior banners commemorative plaques, printing & design services, website, photographic documentation, and information kiosk, project management and consultant fees.

To date $190,000 has been raised with grants from Missouri River Historical Development, Gilchrist Foundation, Humanities Iowa, Siouxland Community Foundation, Iowa Arts Council, Wells Fargo Foundation, Scottish Rite Foundation, Kind World Foundation, and many individual and corporate donations.

Tax-deductible contributions can be made on the website through PayPal or by credit card.  Or checks can be mailed to Celebrating Community Foundation, PO Box 5171, Sioux City, IA 51102.

Press Contact; Terri Avery – – 712/253-609

To magazine article in its entirety, please visit Sculptures Pacific Magazine – 2014/2015 Issue 10 and turn to page 18.