Eye on KELOLAND: City of murals

Eye on KELOLAND

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa (KELO) — If you’re an art lover you’ll find dozens of reasons to head to a small town in northwest Iowa.

From afar, you may not expect it. But drive through Rock Rapids and you’ll find out you’re in the city of murals.

“The Rock Rapids Mural Society actually started because I had too much time on my hands,” Rock Rapids Mural Society President and Founder Sandy Wynia said.

Sandy Wynia is the president and founder of the mural society.

The first mural went up in 2002. Nearly 20 years later there are about 30 to see, including one showing the late Don DeWaay heading into his law office.

“This used to be his original office, so it’s a perfect view. We’ve had people stop their cars just to make sure is he getting in,” Wynia said.

There are two murals on the sides of Ace Hardware, one called “May We Never Forget” which commemorates 9/11, and another dedicated to the 2014 flood.

“In ’14 this whole region was underwater, all of it was underwater. We had water coming way up into town on Main Street. There was a lot of houses that got flooded out, lots of houses, lots of houses destroyed, condemned,” Ace Hardware Manager Alvin Smidstra said.

You can find some information next to the murals, which can help you go on a self-guided tour.

“You’d be surprised how many times you’re driving around and there’s somebody standing on the edge of the street or out in the street taking pictures of these,” Smidstra said.

Time and weather can take a toll on the art.

Artist Megan De Young has been spending time in Rock Rapids for the past couple of years working on restoring some of the murals.

“I know a lot of people and have become friends with a lot more people because of the paintings,” Artist Megan De Young said.

Wynia says the mural society, which is currently made up of four women, will keep working to bring more murals to town and maintain the ones that are already here.

On top of attracting more people to town and making the buildings look unique, there’s something else that’s driving Wynia’s passion for these murals.

“I’m a grandmother, and I know every year that we don’t share the history of our culture, if we don’t share the history of how we got to where we are today, it’s forever gone,” Wynia said.

But now some of that history has a home so other generations can learn.

Wynia says there were 36 murals in all, but some are not up for various reasons such as weather damage.

If you’d like to donate to the mural society, you can find more information by heading to its Facebook page.

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