A $9 million project will transform the southeast corner of Des Moines Water Works Park, adding an amphitheater, natural play features, a food truck park and a tunnel connection to Gray’s Lake Park.
Note to readers: This story has been edited from its original publication to correct the name of the art fabricators.
A sculptor and a composer are collaborating to create an “immersive” sculpture at Water Works Park.
The multimedia sculpture, titled “River Constellation,” will feature sound and light in a collection of vertical poles arranged to mimic parts of the paths of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers.
The Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation commissioned Boston-based composer and Iowa native Beau Kenyon and Brooklyn-based sculptor Natalia Zubko earlier this year after reviewing five artists’ proposals.
“River Constellation” includes 45 10-foot-tall stainless steel poles brightened with 12-inch polycarbonate globes. The total cost of the project is about $250,000. Zubko created hardware around the globes that were fabricated in Hong Kong.
Zubko made the first model by hand.
“Our initial design had 12-foot poles, but the stainless steel comes in 20 feet. So if we put them to 10, then we can get more out of it,” she said Monday. Initially, Zubko and Kenyon wanted to fabricate the globes from scratch, but it was out of the duo’s time frame and budget. Zubko and Kenyon worked with Juno Works, art fabricators from Colorado, to bring the sculptures to life. Dispersion worked on the light and sound.
The project is funded privately with support from the Krause family and other donors supporting the 1,500-acre park.
Donors’ names will be added on rings stacked at the base of the sculpture’s poles. There are blank rings attached to the bottom of poles for the names of additional $500 donors.
“The donors’ names have taken an evolution, and are the foundation of the park,” Zubko said. “So supporters are like the rings of a tree.”
Kenyon said he and Zubko thought about “the constellation as sort of a guiding force.”
“The sounds that are coming out of the globes are both composed but also captured from the park,” he said.
Eleven speakers attached to poles send micro-vibrations to the structures. Each pole has a track built to weave in and out to connect one another.
“It’s a musical ecosystem,” Kenyon said. “Gentle light and gentle sound.”
Park visitors will be able to hear the sounds of a clarinet, violin, cello, French horn and bassoon. Kenyon worked with members of Des Moines Metro Opera and the Des Moines Symphony to produce the sculpture’s music.
Zubko said he and his collaborator hope visitors “can walk in and relax into this space like the way you do when you’re on a nature walk.”
Installation began Monday and is planned to be completed in early November. A dedication for the immersive sculpture is expected in November as well.
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