Mural Magic and Compelling Public Art

According to the Des Moines Register:

Local painter Frank Hansen polished off a colorful new mural at 808 Des Moines St., in the East Village. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth a drive-by look.

Hansen Mural Side View

Yes, it is indeed worth a drive by!

Here's where it's located, facing Pennsylvania Avenue just south of I-235:

View Larger Map

Not everyone will like this mural. Which is one reason we need more challenging public art like this. Case in point: John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, a public private venture. When the sculpture park comes up in conversation, I usually hold my tongue until I have to say out loud that I'm just not that big a fan for the following reasons:

  • I don't find many of the pieces there particularly compelling.
  • WTF is up with putting alarms on sculptures in a park? In concept, outdoor sculpture invites people to interact. People should be encouraged to get up close and touch outdoor sculpture. I understand not wanting to accept liability for letting people climb, but if a sculpture can't take being touched, how should it be expected to hold up to Iowas brutal climate changes?
  • The Western Gateway park takes up too much "developable" space for a single, limited, use - the landscaping elements and placement of sculptures make it difficult to use for any type of public use other than display of sculpture.

On the up side, murals like this help to activate blank walls that face big open surface parking lots...

Murals and compelling art like it generate BUZZ, and buzz around art ain't bad for an eclectic and developing retail area like the East Village! How about some ideas for capitalizing on this mural and multiplying the buzz: What about working with the property owner on a contest to name the characters? What about taking a blank wall on Locust and hosting a series of murals next summer?


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