CEDAR FALLS — The first of five murals popped up on College Hill on Thursday, just in time for the University of Northern Iowa’s Homecoming.
Fortepan Iowa, a statewide organization with a digital archive of Iowa photos, has partnered with the Iowa Arts Council and five Iowa public libraries to collect photos and use them as murals around the state.
The first mural was pasted on the side of Octopus.
“This is a fantastic image of some women enjoying beer in their pajamas,” said Isaac Campbell, digital media specialist and wheat pasting artist. “We think it’s a really fun image that speaks to the good time to be had on College Hill.”
Dave Deibler, Octopus owner, was happy to have the mural on his business.
“I thought it was a great idea,” he said, noting it matches the eclectic vibe of the neighborhood. “It reflects the spirit.”
The murals are placed using wheat paste, a combination of flour and water. Wheat paste won’t damage buildings, but it’s durable enough to last through harsh weather.
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Fortepan plans to install five murals on walls around the Octopus, Little Bigs and Copyworks. The murals will ideally remain until Oct. 1, 2020, or as long as the business owners want them up.
“This is part of an initiative we have to spread the news about Fortepan Iowa and to complicate the image of what it means to be Iowan,” Campbell said.
Fortepan Iowa features curated photos taken by ordinary Iowans in the 19th and 20th centuries. The photos represent the personal, whimsical, poetic, significant and accidentally artistic moments of everyday Iowa life.
“The photographs speak to the story of Iowa,” Campbell said. “We all have memories like these (murals) that we’re putting up.”
Fortepan Iowa is the first sister site to the Hungarian-based Fortepan project, which gets its name from the global brand of Hungarian photographic film and paper made from 1948 to 2000, according to the organization.
Fortepan Iowa launched in March 2015. The project has been funded in part by a UNI Capacity Building grant, a Humanities Iowa Grant, and the UNI College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences.
The murals on College Hill are the beginning of a larger project all around Iowa.
“We have a grant from the Iowa Arts Council to put wheat pastings in Cedar Falls, Webster City, Anomosa, Summner and Ottumwa,” Campbell said. “We’re really excited that we have so much support from Cedar Falls.”