116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Downtown Iowa City now has a different kind of public art installation — one that isn’t visible at first glance. The Parking Spaces is a site-specific listening asynchronous experience curated by three local artists.
Choreographer Stephanie Miracle, composer Ramin Roshandel and writer/poet Steven Willis collaborated with 10 artists to bring phase two of their project, which originally started during the height of the pandemic.
“The main goal was to offer locals in Iowa City an experience that was reorienting them to a place that they already live in or spend time in,” she said.
The Parking Spaces is a one- to two-hourlong experience, inviting participants to go to each listening location that are scattered downtown. The project was funded by a $5,000 Iowa Arts Council grant.
“Each artist took a different location in Iowa City and made a piece for that spot or adapted an existing piece that they had, and it’s a wide range of expressions as well,” she said.
Miracle said the website that houses the recordings, including the group’s original project, The Parking Space on the Chauncey Swan Parking Ramp, will be in use for the foreseeable future.
The listening experience is asynchronous, and can be accessed 24/7 on its website.
Miracle said some artists use existing public art pieces or structures to enhance it or describe the building’s history.
Parking spot one, by poet Caleb Rainey and the group Wave Cage, features jazz music layered on top of a spoken word poem that asks the listener to start at the Capitol Street Parking Ramp and walk by the ramp to look at the Oracles of Iowa City mural on the side of the ramp.
Other tracks invite the listener to move their body or imagine certain things while a narrator tells a story or spoken-word poem, Miracle said.
What: The Parking Spaces
Where: Eleven spots in Downtown Iowa City that take a little over an hour to walk through. All spots are wheelchair accessible.
When: The exhibit is available for public listening 24/7.
Details: Audio tracks are accessible to download and streamable. Participants can also check out a MP3 player and headphone set from the Iowa City Public Library or get a transcribed copy of the audio on the “parking spaces” page.
“There are others that just invite you to sit and listen. For example, the Family Folk Machine (does a) really playful, upbeat, cover of ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ with the incredible, intergenerational choir, and that’s intended to be listened to around the playground,” Miracle said.
Roshandel, another creator of the project, said he helped record the audio for most of the tracks over a couple of weeks in a recording studio.
“From the moment that we started this project, I always have been imagining it being an open-ended project or open-ended versions for all the parking spaces, like wherever you are,” Roshandel said.
During the height of the pandemic, Roshandel and his collaborators created their first project, The Parking Spaces, to give the public a free, open-air experience while in lockdown.
“We had an opportunity to revisit the project … What we wanted to do with that was grow the project to include more voices in the community,” she said. “So the same sort of audio-oriented design, but this time, a wider range of artists and their approach to the project.”
Like the team’s first project, Miracle said it has been challenging to track the use of the project because it isn’t event based.
“It’s designed to be sort of waiting and ready for people when they need it,” she said. “I love that we designed it that way. It feels relevant, and like there’s a built in patience.”
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