A weekend fire in downtown Iowa City damaged three buildings and destroyed the personal belongings of several residents living in apartments. Fire officials have not determined a cause for the fire, but believe it started at Bruegger’s Bagels around 2 a.m. Saturday and spread to two nearby buildings.
Everyone made it out safely and Amy Leners says that’s the important thing. But, the University of Iowa Studio Art major says the one thing she needs most as she approaches graduation is now gone. A folder, full of four years of Leners’ artwork, was destroyed.
“It’s a lot of work and a lot of hours. It’s my life. It’s what I do,” Leners said as she sorted through the charred pieces she’d been putting together since her freshman year at the U-I. She planned to submit the works to an art school in Chicago after she graduates this December.
“That’s going to be really hard to do now without having a progression of work to show. I might be taking a couple years off and rebuilding,” Leners said. Her mother, Colleen Adams of Des Moines, says it’s hard to see her daughter lose something so valuable.
“It’s heart wrenching,” Adams said. “A lot of late hours in the studio working until two and three in the morning, now it’s all gone.” Leners said she’s realized an even more valuable portfolio she’s built over the last four years – her friends. She’s received nearly 100 text messages or calls from people offering meals, a place to stay or other help.
Leners is working with a cleaning company that might be able to restore at least a few pieces of her artwork.
By Jillian Petrus, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids