Grand Avenue bridge art approved

Friday, July 30, 2010
The coloring of the special glass used in each of the octagon designs will resemble the photo above. (Photos by Kris Todd)

Spencer Park Board members drove to Sutherland Thursday night and liked what they saw.

The board, along with City Manager Bob Fagen, met with commissioned glass artists Mark, Jeanne and Seth Bogenrief in their Sutherland-based studios to preview the Art Deco glass pieces scheduled to adorn the Grand Avenue bridge in Spencer.

Seth Bogenrief described the process he, his parents, fellow artisan Jim Berberich and other designers have undergone to date with the project. Bogenrief also acknowledged this is his first time working with dichroic glass -- which was developed by the aerospace industry for NASA and is used on satellites -- on a "major project."

"I've done a few other sample projects with it, but this is my first big attempt," he admitted.

For the project they're embarking upon, Bogenrief explained the glass needs to be heated to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit for a 17 1/2-hour cycle.

"Each piece that goes into the bridge has that same firing cycle," Bogenrief said. "Since I only have one kiln, it's been about trying to manage time and get as much done as humanly possible and keep that kiln running."

In the meantime, as the Grand Avenue bridge infrastructure nears completion, it will eventually host a monument on each of its corners. The four columns will each feature three octagons, for a total of 12 glass pieces on the bridge's ends. These designs will represent the areas of parks and recreation, commerce, education and agriculture. A blue Art Deco design will extend between the octagon pieces and neon lighting by fellow artist Louis "Tony" Curiel, of Spencer, has been approved to backlight the vertical monuments.

Spencer Park Board members have approved these Art Deco designs seen above to be used in the glass artwork scheduled to grace the Grand Avenue bridge's upcoming monuments by early September.

"We're about 50 percent (done now) with Mom and Dad's part and my part," Bogenrief said. "My part, though, is probably going to take me about two to three more weeks to wrap up."

As Spencer Parks and Recreation Director Delray Bredehoeft explained the foundations for the four bridge monuments have not yet been dug, he did indicate the monuments are currently setting in Omaha. To this bit of information, Mark Bogenrief mentioned he plans to travel to Omaha to get exact measurements for their glasswork, as well as see if he might be allowed to predrill the monuments for installation of the glass pieces.

"The installation shouldn't take that long," he assured board members.

"I think everything is turning out well," Seth Bogenrief added. " ... Hopefully we'll be ready for all the installation exactly when the bridge monuments are."

Installation of the Bogenriefs' handiwork is expected to occur around Sept. 1. The glass artwork will be safeguarded the younger Bogenrief explained.

"We're putting Lexon, which is a flexible plexiglass with an immense strength for the size of it, in front of all of the glass," he said. "That way, if a rock, vandals or any of that were to try and do anything to it, they'd have to really want to break the glass in order to break it. So, hopefully that should take care of any of the road damage or anything like that. And, that will make a nice, washable surface where they don't have to worry about getting anything on the glass itself."

With the board members' approval of what they saw in Sutherland last night, the Bogenriefs received a third $20,000 payment for their efforts to date. Additional $20,000 payments will be received when the glasswork is installed and when the Grand Avenue bridge project is completed. The total project, which is expected to cost $100,000, will be funded from Dvergsten Charitable Foundation and Community Attraction and Tourism grants received by Spencer.

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  • What a waste of money.

    -- Posted by JT on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 11:34 AM
  • instead of grand ave improvements, they need to start with the other projects that they have started and not finished, what i mean is the so called water fall on 10th ave e by the middle school, ever since they put the trees in and the waterfall there has been nothing done, it is a BIG MESS AND STINKS. Lets start doing something for the people that live here and see and smell it...........

    -- Posted by moonman on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 12:32 PM
  • This project is a gift to Spencer from the Dvergstens and state grants that would only have gone to projects elsewhere. Be proud that Spencer is a community with a vision for beauty, good quality of life, and great project visionaries.

    I must say, when we travel to other Iowa cities, we are often questioned about how we got to be such a successful and attractive city. Many of our residents would not want to live here were it not for the culture and those attractive aspects of Spencer Iowa!!!

    Certified as one of 16 Iowa "Great Places"

    -- Posted by A. View Point on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 5:10 PM
  • Amazing that only being a shopping hub, the best in Iowa, could be such a deplorable situation for a small city to be in? Every small city I am aware of is just wishing they could have one half the marketing reach of Spencer. BTW, retailing is leading the recovery at two thirds of the new jobs created in the last year, factories trailed down below 15%. Friends of mine working at local factories are not very happy with the poor pay and lack of benefits that are typical of new positions, so why do we need more of that sort of thing?

    Had it occurred to those who agree with 'Sam' that it takes tax breaks to get any industry, and there are few today, to consider moving to Iowa. Many of those plants leave as soon as the tax breaks run out, and the bidding just escalates all over again. I am constantly hearing employers that say that they can't find employees here anymore.

    I am therefore going to suggest that the city of Spencer do away with anything for which a few people complain that they do not see the value in retaining. I haven't used the library in a few years...gone. Don't swim in the pool any more, play sports, skate, fish in Stolleys, fly in and out of the city or play golf? Get rid of them! Every time a couple people decide that there aren't enough mind numbing factory jobs in town, slash the icing off the cake and stopper the wine bottle. We shall ALL dine on the stale bread feast of the grumblers. sounds like a progressive concept to me...NOT!

    So the next time there is a need to replace or enhance anything in Spencer, I suggest that we raise the money entirely with private funds and let the other cities have ALL the grant money. That should produce some complainers.

    -- Posted by A. View Point on Sat, Jul 31, 2010, at 10:21 AM
  • Excellent ideas!

    I work north of town, and do most of my shopping at Hy-Vee and Fareway. We should get rid of that bridge. It costs a lot to maintain, and then nobody will be complaining about the artwork on it.

    Problem solved!

    -- Posted by stafinois on Sun, Aug 1, 2010, at 11:11 AM
  • Well said A View Point!!!

    -- Posted by TJN35 on Sun, Aug 1, 2010, at 11:19 AM
  • I am with Aimee, 100%. Some of you seem to have been against everything that has been done to the bridge, along with the original replacement of it. Let's just tear it out! And, next time the Dvergstens (or any other group) want to give such a gift, lets just refuse! Let's tear out all the streetlights so we can't see the Grand Ave flaws that led to the decision to resurface! Let's turn away retail, because Lord knows that Spencer needs to focus on bringing in manufacturing and JOBS JOBS JOBS! Lets kick out those who have taken over the old KMart building, the old HyVee building, and the old Ace building, because otherwise, we can't complain about buildings in South Spencer sitting empty!

    We can do it people! We can officially become the most negative city in Iowa, perhaps even in the country! We can do it if we continue to hunt for the negative in every single improvement the city makes. We can do it if we continue to assume the worst of everyone. We can do it if we keep choosing to make even the most lighthearted of stories in the Reporter grounds for debate. Tear it all down, pack it up, and accept nothing but the "improvement" ideas of curmudgeonly citizens commenting online. If you see Spencer as a bleak black hole for progress, continue acting this way and it may just come true!

    -- Posted by notinia on Mon, Aug 2, 2010, at 11:33 AM
  • Go, Spencer, go! I agree with Notinia -- with enough effort, we can become the most negative town in all of Iowa, and the ugliest, too, as huge factories replace any aesthetics in the city.

    It's about balance people -- yes, we need jobs here, but are you really saying you want your tax dollars to go to another out of town company that will come here for the incentives, then five years later, when those incentives run out, make the "painful" business decision to pull up stakes and get out, leaving hundreds unemployed?

    Why can't we invest in the ingenuity of our people here? Wouldn't those same tax incentives go further providing jobs and contracts to locals? Gee, Bogenrief and Curiel are local, and they are more than just Jesse Bogenrief and Tony Curiel -- they hire glass artists and others to get the job done. The JOB!

    The arts bring jobs to Spencer!

    Who's putting in those light poles and planting the grass! People! With jobs!

    I agree we need better jobs than minimum wage retail, but polluting factories with mind-numbing, body-destroying work is not the only way to get them.

    -- Posted by AmyPeterson on Mon, Aug 2, 2010, at 12:09 PM
  • It's grant money. If we don't use it someone else will get it; either way it's spent.

    Tax money will always go to things we consider unnecessary, get over it. That's how we do things.

    Let's go ahead and finish the beautification projects. Maybe our nice-looking little town will impress some of the businesses which will consider Spencer as a place to bring their jobs in the future. It can't hurt our chances any.

    Either way, the money's going to be spent.

    -- Posted by dbaymiller on Wed, Aug 4, 2010, at 6:11 PM
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