Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Muralists Jeff Huntington and Julia Gibb of Jahru Studio, from Annapolis, Maryland, have begun work this week on two new murals on the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Ellis Blvd NW in the Time Check neighborhood of Cedar Rapids.
The first of the pair is along the north wall of newly constructed residential row housing at 1125 Ellis Blvd NW. The mural will feature an abstracted depiction of the state bird of Iowa: the goldfinch.
Primer was applied to the first wall Wednesday and the artists started with color on Thursday.
“We’re honored to be a part of such a positive and creative revitalization effort that embraces public art. The Cedar Rapids community has overwhelmed us with their vision, support, and hospitality. Getting to know the city has been such a pleasure,” Huntington said of the projects.
The residential neighborhood was one of the hardest-hit by the flood of 2008, resulting in the destruction of many homes and an opportunity to rebuild.
Nick Ludwig is chair of Murals & More, a Cedar Rapids nonprofit coordinating the projects.
“We’re hoping these murals will serve as a beautiful and uplifting focal point for residents and visitors in the neighborhood,” Ludwig said. “Public art is one way to create something unique, something you can’t see anywhere else, and contributes to the identity of the neighborhood.”
Across the street, the second mural is planned for Mirrorbox Theatre’s new location at 1200 Ellis Blvd NW, formerly the Chirp’s auto service building. The mural will encompass the entire west-facing outside back wall of the new theatre and feature a mirrored portraiture with inspiration derived from comedy and tragedy. Mirrorbox plans to welcome guests in their new space as early as this fall.
David Maier and Matt McGrane of Cedar Rapids have provided the majority of the funding to make the projects possible. Additional support comes from OFB LLC, the ownership group developing both properties.
“We’re proud to support these projects and the performance arts that will take place at Mirrorbox for years to come,” Maier said. “Public art is one of the most engaging ways to create something beautiful that everyone can enjoy.”
Cavan Hallman, Founder and Producing Artistic Director for Mirrorbox Theatre, welcomes the opportunity to incorporate additional artwork into the next phase of the building.
“Jeff and Julia’s portfolio of work is stunning, and that Mirrorbox gets to provide a canvas for their next project is the coolest,” Hallman said. “Thank you, David and Matt, for your continued generosity and support!”
About Jeff Huntington and Julia Gibb of Jahru Studio
Jeff Huntington is a Filipino American painter currently residing in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S.A. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Art Institute of Chicago (1997) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Corcoran School of Art (1995). He was a member of the adjunct faculty at the Corcoran School of Arts + Design and George Washington University from 2013 until 2016, when he and fellow artist, Julia Gibb, founded the arts outreach program Future History Now. His work appears in Panama, Brazil, Colombia, France, Philippines, India, Hawai’i, and throughout the continental United States. He is represented by Porter Advisory in New York City and Reyes+Davis in Washington, DC. Visit https://jeffhuntington.com/ for more information.
About Mirrorbox Theatre
Mirrorbox produces Iowa-premiere plays as dramatic reflections on contemporary culture. The company embraces practical theatricality within an intimate setting, illuminating new thinking through new writing that is relevant to our modern lives. It is our privilege to present art that inspires conversations. Cavan Hallman is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director for Mirrorbox Theatre. More information at https://mirrorboxtheatre.com/.
About Murals & More
Murals & More, The Cedar Rapids Mural Trail, is a nonprofit organization of volunteers dedicated to utilizing local architecture as the backdrop for public art in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, connecting artists with space for them to create and inspire. Recent art installations organized by Murals & More include Fragments, by NEVERCREW, on the 2nd Ave SE Parking Ramp; Seed to Sky, by Ruben Aguirre, on the Rowell Hardware Building (Dash Coffee Roasters) in Kingston Village; and Mucha Meets Iowa, by Ali Hval, on the Novak Building as the gateway to Czech Village facing the Cedar River. More at https://crmurals.org.