The Unveiling of the First Trail

By Jodi Harris, City Revealed Magazine

April showers bring May flowers, but this May something even more exciting will beautify the neighborhood! The month of May brings an extraordinary milestone for Murals & More organizers and for our community. On Saturday, May 19th, the first Murals & More community mural will be unveiled on 3rd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The unveiling is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and a big day is planned for this monumental event. The day will include many fun, family friendly activities spotlighting community art and history. This is the beginning of an era for Cedar Rapids and organizers hope it will spark a flame of community involvement.

“I never imagined that a trip to Alaska almost three years ago would result in something so magnificent as the Murals & More project,” says Lynn Ocken, Executive Director, Murals & More, The Cedar Rapids Mural Trail. “It truly is amazing that a simple idea could result in something of this magnitude...more than just murals, more than just showing who and what our community is all about, more than beautifying areas...so much more. It is exciting to be part of creating a legacy for future generations and I hope everyone will want to be a part of it in some way.”

In anticipation of this event, Murals & More volunteers have been busy creating some fun activities for all. The First Annual Student Art Walk will be one of the highlights of the day. Students from eight Cedar Rapids schools created over 300 works of art. A committee reviewed and selected 25 winning entries to be reproduced on banners. These banners will hang

along 3rd Street between 1st and 4th Avenues. In addition, all the artwork submitted will be on display for all to see during the event. Mayor Ron Corbett will be one of our guests and will recognize and present the winning art students with a special award for their winning artwork. So come see how talented and creative the students are. You can even get a copy of one of the banners if you like. Information for obtaining banners or posters will be available during the unveiling or online after the event.

Another exciting activity planned for the day is a unique “scavenger hunt” created and designed by Metro High

School. Along with the program, everyone will receive a special “passport” to complete. As you look for the clues and find answers, you will be strolling through the area that eventually will have many more murals. Fill out a card indicating where you want to see murals, complete your “passport” and return them for a chance to win some great prizes.

Special guest Bounnak Thammavong, Freelance Public Artist, of Iowa City, who created this first mural for Murals & More, will be on hand to unveil his work, talk with attendees, and sign programs. His credentials include a Masters in Fine Arts, metal emphasis, 2009, University of Iowa; Master of Arts - sculpture emphasis, 2005, University of Northern Iowa; and Bachelor of Arts - sculpture emphasis, 2003, University of Northern Iowa.

He is a freelance public artist with large scale sculptural artworks, graphic design and illustration. He describes the first mural as a depiction of Cedar Rapids’ historical figures with a background of historical buildings during the years of 1900 to 1925.

“It’s been an honor to be part of the inaugural art project for the Cedar Rapids Mural trail. This project has helped galvanize education, industry, civil, and community groups throughout Cedar Rapids. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to work with the dedicated people of these groups. Along the path toward creating this historic symbol, it’s also been uncommonly fulfilling to discover the unsung treasures of this city. It’s my hope that all will share in the celebration of the resources of Cedar Rapids both past and present; and in turn, look toward the future with optimism and create more historical moments. It would be wonderful if the trail of murals never ended.”

He gives more information describing his enthusiasm for the project on a video at www.crmuralsandmore.org.

There are many more surprises planned for this special day. So come and support the mural project, help plan the future of the mural trail, enjoy students’ artwork and be part of the fun. If you want to get involved, you can meet the many volunteers and Board members and find out more. Spread the word by wearing a Murals & More T-Shirts which will be available for purchase. All proceeds from the sale of banners and T-shirts will go toward the project.

To read the entire May 2012 City Revealed Magazine edition, that features this article click HERE.