Learning about Murals and More

By Jodi Harris, City Revealed Magazine

Last month, in our first story about the phenomenal Murals & More community arts project, we learned that Lynn and Bob Ocken were inspired by a visit to Alaska to bring an idea for a community murals art trail to Cedar Rapids. As anyone who has taken a grassroots idea knows, there is a lot of work involved from inspiration to realization. It not only takes an abundance of work, a village of volunteers, never- ending paperwork, and a huge amount of time and commitment, it takes stamina and vision. Lynn Ocken truly has a passion for this extraordinary community project. As I listened to her articulate her vision for the project and what it will bring to our community, I felt the excitement too. This month we will hear from a few of the people who have been involved in the process of this community enhancement project and why they feel it is such an exciting culturally rich benefit.

The trail will connect one mural to the next enticing people to stroll from one to the next discovering the past, enjoying the present and exploring the future of our community. It is meant to enhance the culture of our city and surrounding communities. This is big and bold, and has the potential to tell our story and connect our community to surrounding corridor communities. As Cedar Rapids is reborn with a crisp, clean new image, washing away the last of the sludge left behind by the flood, residents want to focus on the rich history of the past, while creating the city’s future. Murals & More will do just that.

Keith Hindman, Vice President of Client Services at Metro Studios in Hiawatha became involved by donating his time to create videos for the project website and assisting with marketing needs. “I was intrigued by the project and longevity of Murals & More. I felt that our services would be a great fit to their needs. It is very exciting to be a part of the beginning and to be able to look back years from now and say, I helped make that a reality for our community.” Although Metro Studios is not located in the downtown district, Hindman saw the cultural enrichment benefits to the entire area, which is why he wanted to get involved. His video interviews will be featured over the next several months at www.crmuralsandmore.org.

Lynn Ocken, Executive Director of Murals & More, invites everyone to be a part of Cedar Rapids history by getting involved in this unique project. It offers an experience unlike any other in the area, bringing art

and history together for the community to embrace. “This is something we can create together. It kicks off in May, when the first mural will be unveiled and will continue as the trail unfolds one piece at a time.”

Kimm Harris, President of IPC of iowa inc., became aware of the vision for Murals & More at a fundraising event. After hearing more about it, she shared thoughts with others and everyone became excited. She soon became more involved by promoting the project and then by donating funds, software and services to the effort. Today, Harris is the Chairman of the Board for Murals & More, and has worked closely with Lynn Ocken to make the project a reality for Cedar Rapids. “We are very excited about the Arts, Culture and Entertainment District and our first mural is right in the middle of all the action. Volunteers have been thrilled with all of the collaboration and assistance we are receiving from the Arts Community, the City of Cedar Rapids, Convention and Visitors Bureau, the history and art museums, the Visual Arts Commission, as well as numerous businesses and individuals throughout the community. We are re- invigorating one another as we all work together to reach our goal of showing the BEST of Cedar Rapids to ourselves and visitors.”

If you have been looking for an opportunity to give back to your community, be a part of something big, or just want to meet new people with a common goal, contact Executive Director, Lynn Ocken at 319.775.5417, email info@crmurals.org or visit www.crmuralsandmore.org. The possibilities are endless!

We will have more exciting news about this bold community project in the next issue of City Revealed Magazine. 

To read the entire March 2012 edition of City Revealed Magazine which features this article, click HERE.