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Artful tribute: New Lindale Mall mural honors veterans, first responders

The new mural within the Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids, airbrushed by local artist Allen Roberts. (Michaela Ramm/The Gaze
The new mural within the Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids, airbrushed by local artist Allen Roberts. (Michaela Ramm/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The management at the Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids wanted to bring life to the facility.

And in bringing some color to the mall’s white hallways, a Cedar Rapids-based artist hopes to bring honor and recognition to local veterans and first responders.

Allen Roberts, owner of Midwest Airbrushing located within Lindale Mall, airbrushed a 66-foot mural on the south side of the Cedar Rapids mall that depicts famous moments in military history as well as police, fire and EMT workers.

Roberts worked on the mural at night, when the mall was closed, for a month.

“I did it a little at a time,” he said. “I just started working on it from when the mall closed until early in the morning.”

He made some additional touches to the mural this past weekend and has left space on the wall to add more to the depiction, but currently has no plans.

Lindale Mall officials commissioned Roberts last month for the project.

“Lindale Mall management wanted to do something throughout the mall to bring life to some of the rather white side hallways,” said Lia Pontarelli, Lindale Mall marketing director. “For one of the hallways we decided to have a mural around veterans and first responders. We feel that those are groups of people who deserve great recognition.”

Once they had an idea in mind, they had to find an artist. Pontarelli said mall officials “try to utilize the talents of our tenants whenever possible,” so they approached Roberts for the project.

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Roberts said he hoped it would be a good way to raise awareness of his business, Midwest Airbrushing, which he opened in April.

Airbrushing “is something I always did secondhand,” Roberts said. “I got laid off from my previous job and I decided just to go for it.”

But the mural also has a special meaning for Roberts, whose son is enlisted in the Marine Corps and recently completed his basic training. Right now, his son is stationed on the East Coast.

“He really loves it,” Roberts said.

Lindale Mall officials have other plans to bring life to other spaces within the facility.

Pontarelli said the mall has partnered with Tanager Place to hang artwork from children in its programs and is working with Iowa BIG on an art contest inspired by the history of Lindale Mall.

For the holiday season, Pontarelli said mall officials also have created an installation for the Gift Kindness campaign. The campaign encourages participants to do random acts of kindness for the possibility to win $1,000 for the not-for-profit of their choice.

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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