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Muralists hope to make a statement in Iowa City

Three murals commissioned by Public Art Program

University of Iowa art senior Heidi Zenisek (front) paints the mural titled “Is this heaven? No. It’s the Ped Mall” at the Pedestrian Mall in Iowa City on July 30. In addition to this piece on the wall of a frozen yogurt shop, murals are popping up across Iowa City under the city’s Public Art Program. (Justin Wan/The Gazette)
University of Iowa art senior Heidi Zenisek (front) paints the mural titled “Is this heaven? No. It’s the Ped Mall” at the Pedestrian Mall in Iowa City on July 30. In addition to this piece on the wall of a frozen yogurt shop, murals are popping up across Iowa City under the city’s Public Art Program. (Justin Wan/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Freshly painted murals will give Iowa City pedestrians something new to gaze at.

“We really wanted to come up with a project that made a statement,” said Marcia Bollinger, Iowa City’s coordinator for Mural Project 2014 through the City of Iowa City Public Art Program. “We wanted to see more murals in Iowa City. It was the first time we’ve intentionally gone out and sought muralists.”

The Public Art Program commissioned three murals, each done by a different artist, who each were given a $3,000 budget for their murals.

Brock Muench painted a 6-by-30-foot mural on the east wall under the College Street Bridge with a farmers market theme.

Taylor Ross will complete an 8 1/2-by-20-foot water mural on the west wall of the pump building adjacent to the Fairmeadows Park Splash Pad.

The final mural by Jesa Townsend on the east wall of the old pool building at Mercer Park will focus on activities at the park. It will be 10 feet by 20 feet.

Muench’s mural is complete. Bollinger said she is considering a celebratory event in September once all three murals are done.

In the past, the Public Art Program funded projects like the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk, Weatherdance Fountain and downtown statues.

A piece at Wetherby Shelter was the result of a collaboration with the Tate High School art program. A mural on the Dulcinea was possible through a public-private partnership. Bollinger said these types of collaborations will make more murals possible in the future.

Yotopia Frozen Yogurt, located at the corner of Clinton and College streets on the Pedestrian Mall in Iowa City, has taken the bull — or in this case the cow — by its horns.

Veronica Tessler, owner of Yotopia, commissioned local artist Megan Dehner and other artists to paint an “Is this heaven? No. It’s the Ped Mall” mural on her building.

The mural includes a cow, which Tessler wants the public to help name.

“It’s kind of a whimsical illustration of the dairy farm where we get our products from for our yogurt,” Tessler said.

The blonde brick wall had been prone to graffiti, and “I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have a piece of public art here,’ ” Tessler said.

A celebration was held Aug. 8, but the mural won’t be done until Aug. 19.

Tessler is looking for $4,250 in donations to help pay for the work put in by Dehner and her assistants, though she also received a grant from the Public Art Program for the project.

For more information about Tessler’s project, go to Tilt.com/campaigns/is-this-heaven-no-its-the-ped-mall/description.

“I think we’re going to see more of this ... it really livens up the town,” she said. “I absolutely see it growing.”

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