Located in the heart of downtown Iowa City, the Ped Mall is home to a collection of metal statues. Included in the gallery is a sculpture entitled “The Tie That Binds,” portraying a father tying his son’s shoe, after the son had spent the entire day being an absolute piece of shit.
The sculpture was created in 2001 as a part of the Iowa City Public Art Program. The artist began the piece with the intention to convey the message that “the little ordinary things of everyday life can be transformed into something more profound when depicted in a sculpture.”
Inspiration struck on a walk downtown.
“It was July of 1999. I was walking around Iowa City, running errands and enjoying the warm weather,” reminisced the sculptor. “It was in front of The Englert Theatre when I saw the father, bent down, lovingly tying the undone shoelace of his son’s left sneaker.”
The scene was so touching that the artist immediately ran to her workshop to begin sculpting.
“I knew I had to capture this moment,” she said. “It encapsulates so much about humanity and the pure, unwavering love between a parent and child. This would be the perfect addition to the Ped Mall.”
However, the sculptor was missing an important part of the narrative.
“Jesus fucking Christ, yeah, I remember that Tuesday,” commented Steve Grimwald, the father depicted in the sculpture. “My wife and I divorced back in ’95. We got joint custody of our son, Max and he was staying at my place that week.”
According to Grimwald, Max had been “extremely shitty” that entire morning.
“The fucker woke up at 4 a.m. Came into my room and started jumping on my head. On my goddamn HEAD. That’s how I started my day. 47 pounds of asshole, repeatedly crushing my skull.”
After a stressful breakfast during which the 5 year-old threw an entire bowl of Cheerios across the room because they “weren’t crunchy enough,” Grimwald decided to take Max downtown.
“We couldn’t stay in the house,” recalled the father. “Max would have destroyed the couch. He was really into eating upholstery at this age.”
In a desperate attempt to kill time before Max’s mom picked him up, the father and son went to the public library. However, shortly after their arrival they were asked to leave by a librarian, due to Max’s piercing screams.
“He wasn’t even upset about anything. The dickhead was just standing in the fiction section, screaming at the top of his lungs,” explained Grimwald.
It was around noon when Grimwald began to seriously question his decision to have a child in the first place. Exasperated and frazzled, he dragged Max to a coffee shop, hoping a muffin would shut him the fuck up for a few minutes.
“On the walk there, Max started playing this fucking ‘game’ where he would untie his shoes. Of course, every time he untied the laces, he would trip on them and scream. I would bend down and retie the laces, and then he would untie them, trip and start screaming. Again. And again. It took us 30 minutes to get across the street.”
Max actually remembers the exact moment the sculptor spotted him and his dad.
“Yeah, I remember that lady watching us. While my dad was tying my shoe, I was whispering: ‘Fuck you, motherfucker. I wish you were dead, bitch!’ into his face. Ha ha, I was a really shitty kid!”
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