The landscape is becoming even more vibrant in Cedar Rapids’ burgeoning Kingston Village, with the addition of the “Seed to Sky” mural on the east-facing side of Dash Coffee Roasters, 120 Third Ave. SW.
And it’s drawing the attention of passersby.
“Everyone’s always excited to see new, bright colors — something visually pleasing added to their neighborhood,” said Rebecca Davidson, a Dash co-owner. “It’s definitely a striking piece — it’s hard to miss. Everyone’s loving it. I’ve seen a lot of people out there taking pictures, and I’m sure we’ll start seeing a lot of seniors from around the area that have a familiar background in their photos here in the next year. I’ve seen lots of people out there with their phones, taking photos by it, especially on these beautiful fall days.”
Created by Chicago artist Ruben Aguirre, the Cedar Rapids nonprofit Murals & More recently unveiled the piece with a virtual dedication ceremony.
“The mural is basically an abstraction of a landscape, and the landscape was inspired by the name ‘Cedar Rapids’ — the cedar trees and the rapids of the water — so it’s basically a land, water, sky painting,” Aguirre told viewers.
“There’s so many different reasons why people would want public art, and there’s no wrong answer, really, but when it’s genuine, like Murals & More, I feel super-proud to be a part of that. And I feel like my work is actually completely for the public benefit, so that makes me feel good about it.”
Mural discussions began shortly after Dash Coffee Roasters opened its doors in the Rowell Hardware Building in 2017. To launch an “extensive” search for an artist, Murals & More partnered with the Cedar Rapids Downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District, Dash building owners Rowell Hardware Development, and Dash owners, with support from ImOn Communications. Other businesses and organizations also contributed toward the $22,500 project.
“Finding the right artist that could utilize the large surface area in a meaningful and compelling manner, while stylistically matching what we envisioned, was really important to us,” Adam Burger, Murals & More co-chair, said in announcing the project.
Aguirre, who has turned from graffiti to abstract and murals, has left his mark on public spaces in Chicago, around the nation and internationally. He painted the Cedar Rapids mural in two sessions, beginning the first week of September, then adding the final touches and sealant in early October.
“We love it,” Davidson said of the finished product. “It’s really cool. It’s really neat that Ruben named it ‘Seed to Sky.’ Unknowingly, that kind of ties into the way coffee works, so it’s really cool that the name correlates to Dash without it really being a Dash mural.
“And just his idea of how community operates in Cedar Rapids and the timing of it after the derecho,” she added. “His vision really was something that we didn’t know was going to be so relevant. ...
“When we set out to do the mural, it was a three-year process. It’s been on the docket, and we were just waiting for the right artist, the right time and the right funding,” Davidson said.
“We didn’t know if we were going to be able to do our entire wall or if we were going to do something smaller. So it was really exciting to be able to come up with the budget and the right artist to be able to do such a large mural to really make an impact in the Kingston neighborhood. We’re excited to be a foundation for the art that will happen on the southwest side of the river, as well.”
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If you go
• What: Murals & More: “Seed to Sky,” by Chicago artist Ruben Aguirre
• Where: Dash Coffee Roasters, 120 Third Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
• Opening: Virtual dedication ceremony, Facebook.com/CRmurals
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• Artist’s website: Theshiftchange.com/