It is called “Odyssey” and it is causing quite a stir — and a few accidents. Four huge new sculptures that sit on the 24th Street Bridge over I-80 in Council Bluffs have people doing double-takes. Designer Albert Paley of Rochester, New York, says his goal was to give drivers passing the artwork something to remember.
“For the thousands of people that pass through there, there’s going to be an identity with Council Bluffs and a point of reference and a point of memory with the structures,” he says. A few car accidents and near-misses have been reported near the sculptures as drivers try to catch a glimpse of the massive metal monuments. Paley says the artwork is designed to catch the eyes, but he’s taking no responsibility for the accidents.
“Anybody that drives a vehicle, whether they’re looking at an accident or looking at a billboard or looking at a thunderstorm, I think they have to be aware of what they’re doing,” Paley says. Some people are criticizing the sculptures as an “eye sore” or “twisted wads of metal.” Paley says he’s not offended by the criticism. He says people are often critical of artwork when it’s brand new, but come to love it once they get used to it.
“People are drawing their opinions…After the first sculptures came in, I’m sure opinions have changed,” he says. “…It’s an on-going process.” The four large pieces of artwork are at the four corners of the bridge that is known by locals as the “Gateway.” Paley is hoping it will become a well-known landmark in the future for those driving either in and out of Iowa on Interstate-80.
Paley is well-known in the artwold for designing gates and archways for significant buildings like the National Cathedral in Wasington, D.C. He’s also the designer of a gateway into the Hotel Patee in Perry that’s made of farm tools. The four sculptures on the bridge in Council Bluffs are his largest installation.
By Karla James