Cedar Rapids, Iowa – September 29, 2020 – The Czech Village New Bohemia Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) unveiled Mucha Meets Iowa, a new mural by Artist Ali Hval of Iowa City, Iowa, on Tuesday to a crowd of community members over coffee and kolaches. The mural spans the east side of the Novak Building adjacent to the National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library as the gateway to Czech Village facing the Cedar River.
The mural committee cites a popular 2012 exhibit at the National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library featuring the work of Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) as the inspiration for the creative direction of the mural. In designing the mural, Hval studied Mucha and Art Nouveau, an artistic style popularized throughout Europe in the late 1800s and into the 20th century. Hval’s design reimagines Mucha’s work in the Art Nouveau style by incorporating local Iowan wildlife and plants. The center female figure is taken from one of Mucha’s pieces and has been tweaked by adding local flowers and plants, namely wild roses, black-eyed susans, and coneflowers, in a flower crown. Oak leaves and bicycle wheels are also encircling the figure. In the remaining arches, other Iowan elements are depicted, such as the goldfinch, morels, and bluebells, chronicling the abundance and variety of life across Iowa.
Hval started painting in late July and was only briefly interrupted by the derecho natural disaster that ripped through the community on August 10. She was back at work within a few days of the storm, finalizing details throughout August and into September.
The unveiling event featured words from Jim Piersall, chairman of the SSMID, Cecilia Rokusek, CEO of the National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library (accompanied by friends dressed in traditional Czech clothing), Dale Todd, City of Cedar Rapids councilmember, and Hval. Coffee was provided by Cafe Saint Pio.
The SSMID, as the group initiating and funding the project, sought the consultative support of Murals & More in early 2020 to help plan and implement the project. The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and the Czech Village-New Bohemia District (The District) joined the project to help with planning. Hval was brought forward by Murals & More and selected by the committee.
More than twenty community partners and private individuals contributed to the success of the project through financial support and in-kind contributions. The District secured a grant for paint to be donated by Diamond Vogel through Paint Iowa Beautiful, an initiative of Keep of Iowa Beautiful. Painting services to prime the wall were donated by Da Bunch Co., the Hawkeye Area Labor Council, and the CR/IC Building Trades Council. Altorfer Cat donated the lift for the project. The City of Cedar Rapids agreed to a long-term lease of city-owned land in front of the mural to continue beautification of the area. Murals & More also made a financial contribution to the project.
Individual donors include Monica and Jim Piersall, Sue and Jim Novak, Janelle and George McClain, Kymm and Pat Loeffler, Mary Kay and Pat McGrath, Bob Schaffer and the Czech Cottage, Graham Construction, Kaitlin and Craig Byers, Lijun and David Chadima, Monica and Bill Vernon, and the Czech Village Association.
Congratulations to the SSMID for creating an iconic landmark and the vision to invest in public art; and to Hval for her impressive talent, artistic ability, and tenacity to complete the project.
Czech Village New Bohemia SSMID
A Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) is a financing mechanism used to fund district-specific improvements and services to supplement, not replace, existing municipal services. The Czech Village/New Bohemia SSMID seeks to improve the neighborhood and the Cedar Rapids community in a variety of ways, including economic development; communications and advocacy; capital improvements; enhanced maintenance; and parking/transportation management. Learn more at https://www.cedarrapids.org/our-community/core-districts/czech-village-new-bohemia.
Ali Hval currently lives and works in Iowa City. In 2019, she received her MFA with Honors at the University of Iowa in Painting and Drawing with a minor concentration in Ceramics. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining painting, fabric, ceramic, sculpture, and installation. She is a 2020 resident at the Chautauqua School of Art in Chautauqua, New York. In 2015, she was chosen as one of ten recipients for the nationally competitive $15,000 Windgate Fellowship by the Center of Creativity, Craft, and Design in Asheville, North Carolina. Ali graduated summa cum laude with Honors from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 2015 with a BFA in Painting and Drawing. She has had work in multiple exhibitions across the country, including Site: Brooklyn in New York, South Bay Contemporary in Los Angeles, and the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center at Hastings College curated by Kate Mothes. An avid muralist, she has completed over 14 public murals and projects in various communities across the Midwest. Learn more at alihval.com.
Murals & More
Murals & More, The Cedar Rapids Mural Trail, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to utilizing local architecture as the backdrop for public art in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We believe in the power of art that is accessible to all. We connect artists with space for them to create and inspire. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and visit our website at crmurals.org.