Officials with the Iowa West Foundation say local artist Charley Friedman used community input to help create signage for Council Bluffs’ biggest park. The “I” in the new Big Lake Park signage is officially dotted. The majority of the new signage was installed last month, but just recently a fish that serves as a nod to nature as well as the “I” in “Big” completed the look.
One of Council Bluffs’ largest parks, Big Lake Park stretches 200 acres around a bend in the Missouri and rests in the shadows of the Loess Hills. It contains four lakes, one large one to the north and three smaller ones to the south. The south side also includes two playgrounds, a large covered picnic shelter, a fishing dock, a baseball diamond, a soccer field and jogging/biking trails. The lakes are stocked with trout, bluegill, bass and catfish.
Big Lake Park is just one of the local parks receiving new signage as part of the Iowa West Foundation’s “Art in the Park” Initiative.” Funded in 2014, the $200,000 initiative allows for the replacement of weathered park identifications signs in six community parks. All signs were designed by local artists, as a way for them to showcase their work to the region.
Pete Tulipana, President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, said “The park signs were also designed using input from the community. They contributed concepts and ideas at public meetings that the artists took to heart and it reflects in the Big Lake signage.”
Charley Friedman, of Lincoln, Neb., is the artist who fabricated the sculpture with naturally rusting COR-TEN steel and cast aluminum animals. Friedman said “Art and nature are two sides of the same coin in that both inspire creativity and imagination. Signage can be droll, but the signs that I’ve seen by the other artists give a specificity and individuality to each park.” Friedman said also, “I wanted the Big Lake sign to have a Jellystone Park/Yogi Bear kind of esthetic.”
Of the other five parks, Roberts Park (1000 N. 25th St.) and Kirn Park(100 ½ 5th Ave) signs were completed in July and August, respectively. Larry Foster, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Council Bluffs, said he expects Cochran Park (100 S. 21st St.) and Westwood Park (1200 S 35th St.) signs to be complete in April.
The last park sign to be completed will be Sternhill Park (1031 N. 8th St.). “Art in the Park” is coordinated by the Council Bluffs Parks, Recreation and Public Property Department, with assistance from the City Public Art Commission, and overseen by art curator Joel Damon.