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New mural celebrates local and national trail

Artwork overlooks Greene Square in Cedar Rapids

The American Discovery Trail mural is being painted on the Third Avenue parking ramp overlooking Greene Square in southeast Cedar Rapids. The mural will be recognized Saturday during the Downtown Farmers’ Market, the final one for this season. (B.A. Morelli/The Gazette)
The American Discovery Trail mural is being painted on the Third Avenue parking ramp overlooking Greene Square in southeast Cedar Rapids. The mural will be recognized Saturday during the Downtown Farmers’ Market, the final one for this season. (B.A. Morelli/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A new mural paying homage to the cross-country American Discovery Trail — and tying it into the Cedar Lake-Smokestack Bridge project — will be recognized on Saturday morning at the final Downtown Farmers’ Market of the season.

The mural, which still is being painted, depicts the outline of a trail with ducks, geese and native plantings splashed over different backdrops.

Artist Ali Hval is painting the mural on the side of the Third Avenue parking ramp overlooking Greene Square in southeast Cedar Rapids.

“There’s a national trail system going through our backyard, through downtown that links San Francisco to Washington, D.C., and nobody knows about it,” said Jesse Thoeming, executive director of the Downtown District, which is sponsoring the mural.

“We wanted to shine a light on that.”

The mural meets a few objectives, Thoeming said.

First, a strategic vision plan recommended more public art to add vibrancy to the downtown.

Second, Greene Square is at the center of a “cultural quad,” surrounded by the public library, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the historic First Presbyterian Church and “then this blank parking garage,” as Thoeming put it.

Third, the Downtown District has committed to enhancing the connection between the planned Smokestack Pedestrian Bridge and the revitalized Cedar Lake.

The trail system passing though downtown — which is part of the 6,800-mile American Discovery Trail — links the planned bridge at the south end of downtown to Cedar Lake at the north end.

The installation on the parking ramp helps tackle each of those needs, Thoeming said.

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“I would love to see this be the first piece of several pieces of public art that form a corridor between the lake and the bridge,” Thoeming said. “Our focus is taking ownership of the pathway between the lake and the bridge and make it unique for anyone passing through.”

The budget for the mural was $35,000, Thoeming said during a Visual Arts Commission meeting this summer.

The downtown district is funded through a tax paid by members of the self-supported municipal improvement district.

Work on the mural began last Monday. On Wednesday, crews were installing lighting to illuminate the mural at night.

Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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