'Angels in the Village' creates a little fun in Czech Village

A set of angel wings behind Czech Cottage features a lion. Photographed in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
A set of angel wings behind Czech Cottage features a lion. Photographed in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — One of Czech Village’s newest and largest landowners has been pushing to spruce up the outside of buildings with angel wings, Czech-inspired folk art, and potentially other paintings.

“Hashtag, ‘Angels in the Village,’” said Mary Kay Novak McGrath, who in May acquired eight properties in the village.

She’s hoping it catches on and people can post it in social media, creating a little fun and giving people another reason to visit Czech Village.

“I thought it would be fun to have an angel trail,” Novak McGrath said. “I want it to be fun where people come look for it.”

So far, three sets of angel wings have been painted on the exteriors of buildings and at least two more are in the works, she said.

Her brother painted the first set — a red, white and blue design — shortly after her acquisition went through on the backside of 72 16th St. SW. An interpretive mural made up of feathers, a kayak, carabiners, plants, boots and a canoe was painted on the outside of the new Soko Outfitters. 41 16th Ave. SW. The third set was painted on the outside of Czech Cottage, 100 16th Ave. SW, in a patio area.

“When people come down to the village to shop and support our stores, they are truly our angels in the village,” she said. “We are appreciative of the people who come shop our village.”


She posted on her Facebook page a call to artists to get involved and several have responded with concepts, she said. While some displays may be murals, other concepts are to create installations, such as using metal or other mediums, she said. She hopes to use the sides of buildings, as well as doorways, as canvases for the art. She wants more, but not so many to lose its charm, she said.

Other shop owners have gotten into the act. Jennifer Stewart, owner of The Create Exchange, 98 16th Ave. SW, is planning to paint angel wings on the outside of a new door of her shop. Novak McGrath owns the building.

“M.K. is our angel here coming in,” said Stewart, who has owned the shop for 3 1/2 years. “She cares about the individual tenants and the village as a whole.”

Colorful butterflies have been installed on another of the properties Novak McGrath bought, and even after it gets remodeled, it will remain the “butterfly house,” she said. In an alley behind The Create Exchange, she and others have added decorations such as a leaf painting, an owl and other knickknacks to “create a little fun.”

“The village has been through hard times since the flood that I thought we needed angels down here,” she said.

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