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Public art project revitalizes outdoor basketball courts in low-income neighborhoods


Outdoor basketball courts in the Des Moines area are being transformed into pieces of public art as part of a project by the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation to revitalize public spaces in ethnically diverse and low-income areas. According to a news release, the Public Arts Foundation commissioned artist Joran Weber to create two murals in the Oakridge Neighborhood. The design of the first mural embodies the dreams and potential of a 14-year-old Oakridge resident, Yore Jieng, who died after being struck by a stray bullet while sitting in a car with his family. The Public Art Foundation’s project is called “SWISH,” and is funded through the group’s Director’s Discretionary Fund, a GC20 Capital Project grant from Bravo Greater Des Moines, and Knapp Properties LC. Oakridge Neighborhood sponsored the work to prepare the basketball courts for the project. Jessica Rowe, Public Arts Foundation director, said the project “is an effort to revitalize public spaces, integrating art into neighborhoods where there is often little or none. ‘SWISH’ basketball courts are canvases for creative expression that strengthen communities, inspire multi-generational play, and healthier public spaces.” Weber is a Des Moines-based multidisciplinary artist and environmental activist who works primarily with inner-city communities nationwide.

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