Public art ‘Wading Bridge’ invites people to reconnect with river

The public is invited to dip their feet in the Raccoon River as part of a public art installation by New York-based artist Mary Mattingly.

The temporary public art installation, titled “Wading Bridge,” is a dock off the riverbank that lets people walk not only over the water – but in the water – as the center section of Wading Bridge is submerged under water. The art installation opens to the public Friday, July 24, and will remain in the water through Sunday, August 9, near the boat launch in Water Works Park. See map below.

“Our rivers determine our land, livelihood and lives – and Des Moines’ rivers are a force,” Mattingly said. “Crossing ‘Wading Bridge’ and getting our feet wet allows us a momentary intimacy with this river.”

The public art installation is aimed at engaging people in a community conversation about the future of the waterways and nearby greenways in Greater Des Moines. The public is being asked for their ideas for approximately 150 miles of the region’s waterways as part of a regional water trails master plan being developed by the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization on behalf of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The public art work and the event is funded by the Des Moines Area MPO, the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts and the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The installation of the art in the river was made possible by the generous volunteer work of Michael LaValle, president of Port of Des Moines, LLC, and Tim Monson of Shuck-Britson.

The public can share their ideas for improving the region’s waterways in an interactive online game, available at Additional details about the planning process, the launch and community events can be found at