I didn’t know Edward Scissorhands was from Council Bluffs.
Apparently, he is. Why else would Council Bluffs let the Iowa West Foundation spend $3 million to erect a four-piece monument in Edward’s honor on the corners of the 24th Street bridge over Interstate 80.
The sculptures, in the process of being installed this month, stand as tall as 60 feet high in some places.
They’re definitely attention getters.
Officially, the sculptures are called The Odyssey. They were created by world-acclaimed artist Albert Paley, who is known for “large scale work” featured in places like the Smithsonian Institute, the National Cathedral and the St. Louis Zoo. The Council Bluffs sculptures are being proclaimed the new Gateway to western Iowa.
Somewhere in the mass of 70,000 pounds of metal, steel and hardware is a symbolic tribute to western Iowa’s agricultural history.
I took a good hard look at the sculptures a few days ago and couldn’t see the ag significance. According to Paley, however, “You’re not going to see this anywhere else. It’s a ceremonial gateway, a sense of place and an entrance to Iowa that reflects grandeur and symbolism. It is a place with an incredible sense of the land and of nature - with the play of sun, wind and shadows.”
OK, if you say so, Mr. Paley. I obviously don’t have an eye for contemporary art. I admit that I barely got a passing grade in my freshman art class in high school. It was the only high school art class I took.
I have no problem with saluting the agricultural heritage of our state, but if Iowa West wants to construct a gaudy monument to do so, why not construct a larger-than-life bronze pig or gigantic ear of corn? At least, all of us would recognize the symbolism and you would probably save $1 million or $2 million in the process.
What The Odyssey tells me is that the Iowa West Foundation has way too much money on its hands and is apparently running out of truly worthwhile projects to fund in Council Bluffs. If Iowa West can’t find worthy projects to support in its hometown, I’d encourage the group to consider allocating a larger percentage of its gambling proceeds to other southwest Iowa communities that support the Bluffs’ casinos. We have several projects and organizations right here in Mills County that would benefit greatly from Iowa West’s support.
There’s been some nice additions to Council Bluffs in recent years. I just don’t think The Odyssey is one of them.