Rock Rapids, Iowa — After the flood of 2014, and up until recently, no murals had been done in Rock Rapids. The city bills itself as “The City of Murals,” but Norma Jansma with the Rock Rapids Mural Society says the city was in disarray, and out of respect for the flood victims, they put their efforts on hold for a while.
Now, in fairly quick succession, three murals have been painted and hung in Rock Rapids. Jansma says that the 29th mural to be done is one that depicts the flood. Painted by Mathew Sharum from Detroit, Michigan, the eight by forty-eight-foot mural is on the east side of the Ace Hardware building in downtown Rock Rapids.
The 30th mural is a smaller mural on the west side of the Depot Museum annex building on North Story Street. It features a banjo and a mandolin from the Lion Banjo Manufacturing company, which manufactured the instruments in Rock Rapids in the 1880’s and 1890’s.
She says Mathew Sharum painted that mural as well.
The 31st mural depicts nine of Rock Rapids’ churches. It’s on First Avenue on the east side of the Atlas building, just as you come into town from the east on Highway 9. It actually replaces an Island Park mural that was retired, says Jansma.
She says each church decided if they wanted to have a picture of their church as it stands today or their first church in Rock Rapids. Some congregations, like that of the United Methodist Church, which was built in 1895, are still worshiping in their original buildings. The mural was painted by a new artist to Rock Rapids — Greg Preheim of Irene, SD. She says it was funded by the Forster Trust and by a grant from the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation.
Jansma says mural number 32 is on the drawing board, which will most likely go up in downtown Rock Rapids in June and might be unveiled during the community’s Heritage Days celebration, June 17-19.
Jansma says the only fundraising the Mural Society does is a biannual tour of homes in October, but they accept donations and are always looking for active board members. She says you can send her a letter or a donation if you’re interested to PO Box 428, Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246, or give her a call at (712) 472-3782. She says you can also contact the Mural Society’s president, Sandy Wynia.