Local businessmen team up to enhance IC arts

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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Two of Iowa City's most influential businessmen approach their investments in the arts through science, mathematics, and engineering, as well as the more traditional ventures.

"Art runs through every single discipline, and we look for unique ways of investing in cultural programming and the arts that on the surface don't look like they have to do with the arts," said Mark Ginsberg, the owner of M.C. Ginsberg.

One such project that combines knowledge from several different disciplines is a senior project that Ginsberg and seniors from the biomedical engineering program are collaborating on to create a prototype for a portable toilet for a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy.

Ginsberg said this type of collaboration allows for an experience many students can't get in the classroom, connects people in different areas of knowledge, and things that seem completely disconnected to the arts end up becoming influenced by art.

"Ginsberg and [local developer Marc] Moen make it simple, and they make it happen," said Marcia Bollinger, the overseer of the city's public-art program. "They want to do something, and they just set out to do it."

Many of the most influential art ventures would not be at our fingertips if it were not for these two men. Over the past year, downtown Iowa City became home to several BookMark statues, celebrating reading and writing in the UNESCO City of Literature and three Johnson County public libraries.

"It was one of those things that immediately resonated when I heard about it and wanted to participate," Moen said. "I love public art that causes people to interact who wouldn't ordinarily interact."

Ginsberg said there will continue to be ongoing projects that they invest in, and getting people with different types of educational backgrounds to collaborate and work together is the focus.

"We are participants in life, not voyeurs," Ginsberg said. "We have developed strong businesses, and one way of thanking is to invest in ongoing projects; not any one project has any finality."

— by Carly Hurwitz

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