Murals and more in New Bohemia — Czech Village

A bench in Poets Park engraved with an original New Bohemia logo (1215 7th St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

The soul of New Bohemia — Czech Village is proudly on display through murals, art installations, and special spaces crafted by the creatives who call this cultural district home.

I have been a proud resident of New Bohemia — Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, since 2015. This district is in the heart of Cedar Rapids bordering downtown and the Oakhill Jackson neighborhood. When I moved to town, one of my first friends introduced me to Corridor Urbanism and to the biking community. Now, I walk or bike when I can (not only to be green and stay active) because I get see a different side of the city. I love discovering or rediscovering hidden gems in Cedar Rapids, so I decided to share some of the coolest corners and most wonderful walls in town that I have found so far.

And don’t worry, I included locations in case you want to check out these sights for yourself (#doitforthegram).

“You Are a Stranger Here but Once” mural on the St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Store building (928 7th St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

The sentiment portrayed by this mural is an especially important one because it speaks to the welcoming nature of the Oakhill Jackson neighborhood.

“The Heart of the Matter” sculpture in Poets Park (1215 7th St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

New Bohemia is in the heart of the city of Cedar Rapids right on the Cedar River and is right next to downtown.

Here’s part of its origin story from my coworker and Cedar Rapids community builder Jill Wilkins:
The heart sculpture was part of one of my first projects working at the Downtown District. We placed it and the rest of the sculpture show two weeks before the 2008 flood. This sculpture weighs a couple tons and was moved a block by the flood water. It was a pretty powerful example of what water can do and the heart also pretty symbolic of the work that came after.”

Mural on the side of the Primus Companies building (401 8th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

No history lesson here, just a colorful mural.

The Humans of Cedar Rapids mural debuted in May 2017 as a project by a team of Iowa BIG students led by Maya Gonlubol (1029 3rd St SE Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

Humans of Cedar Rapids was started as a project by a group of Iowa BIG students. Iowa BIG is an initiative-based public high school, which is a partnership of the Cedar Rapids Community School District, the College Community School District (Prairie) and the Linn-Mar Community School District.

Max from Where the Wild Things Are was on this wall before the Humans of Cedar Rapids mural (1029 3rd St SE Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

This little mural has been here for years, but I’m not aware of its creator.

This mural is on the side of the Top Drawer building (1016 3rd St SE Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

This mural is also an oldie, and I’m not sure who the artist is.

This breakdancing mural is on the Fong’s Pizza building (1006 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).
Regenerations by Jordan Weber on the back of the CSPS Hall building (1103 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401). CSPS partnered with The The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) and the African American Museum of Iowa to welcome this new piece of public art on November 5, 2020, by Jordan Weber, a Des Moines-based multidisciplinary artist and activist.

Here’s what Jordan Weber shared about this piece of public art:

Weber works at the cross section of social justice and environmental justice. This exhibit combines his passion for both issues by focusing on breathing. This is in reference to the “I can’t breathe” rallying cry shared by Black Lives Matter protestors across the nation, as well as the practice of meditation to reclaim one’s connection to earth.

“The simple act to ‘breathe in and breathe out’ to maintain life is in constant threat in our communities from toxic eco-systems to violent interactions with police,” Weber says. “We, as a collective body of sentient beings, have to reclaim our connection to land and human stewardship completely separate from the pitfalls of political tribalism. I would like this installation to act as a point for individuals to just breathe. Disconnect with your ego, your sense of self, and your conditioned mind in order to reconnect with the totality of your existence on this planet with fellow human beings. We must unify in order to heal our lands and our communities — together.”

This bright blue mural is tucked away in the CSPS Hall courtyard (1103 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401). It was painted by Tom Torluemke, Billy Pozzo, Linda Dorman, and Neil Gainer.

CSPS Hall / Legion Arts brings artists from around the world, from folk to jazz to blues, from cabaret to contemporary dance, to Cedar Rapids. It is a perfect arts and culture anchor in the district, not only hosting performers from across the globe but also being an amazing venue for community events. It was built during 1890–91, and the building was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Ice cream cone outside of Almost Famous Popcorn Company (1121 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).
Parlor City is a cornerstone of the New Bohemia neighborhood. It’s full of Cedar Rapids memorabilia like this wall around the outdoor pavilion (1125 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

If you want a quick trip through Cedar Rapids history, order one of the 56 beers on tap and take a look around Parlor City. The Jelinek family has been a staple in New Bohemia for more than a decade and was one of the first to open in the neighborhood after the 2008 flood.

These are a few of the pieces on the outside of the African American Museum of Iowa (55 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

There are two museums in New Bohemia — Czech Village, the African America Museum of Iowa and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. Each one is a vibrant cultural center that help make this neighborhood the number one tourism destination in Cedar Rapids.

This large metal sculpture torch featuring words from Martin Luther King Jr. is behind the African American Museum of Iowa (55 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).
“Greetings from NewBo” was commissioned as part of Go Cedar Rapids’ evolve festival in early August (1221 3rd St SE Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

Despite being one of the newest murals in the district, this is now the art that welcomes everyone to NewBo.

Little Bohemia storefront (1317 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

Little Bohemia has the distinction of being the oldest bar in Cedar Rapids as well as the building being featured in the Marvin Cone painting “Little Bohemia Tavern” (1941).

Tornado’s Grub & Pub (1600 3rd Street SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401) painted a love letter to Pepsi-Cola with this mural on the side of their building.
This Bo Town Entertainment / Bo Mac’s mural featuring famous musical artists and entertainers faces the outdoor eating area for Bo Mac’s (219 16th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).
“The Frame” is a traveling installation. It highlights a view of Cedar Rapids on the bike trails. It has also been placed at Prairie Park Fishery and Cedar Lake. You can find it on the Cedar River Trail near the Bridge of Lions on the New Bohemia side and is focused on Czech Village and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. (near the intersection of 1st St SE and 16th Ave SW/14th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).
The Bridge of Lions was constructed in 1989 and links New Bohemia and Czech Village (16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401). In 2013, Lion Bridge Brewing Company opened in Czech Village (their name pays homage to this historic bridge as well as featuring some of the same details on their outdoor patio), and their award-winning beers continue to raise the profile of the district as a destination.
“Mucha Meets Iowa” (2020) by Ali Hval (56 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404).

“Mucha Meets Iowa” by Ali Hval is the newest face to welcome visitors crossing the Bridge of Lions from NewBo to explore the Czech Village. This mural is part of Murals & More (most of their murals can be seen in Downtown Cedar Rapids & Kingston Village) and was commissioned by the Czech Village/New Bohemia Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (full disclosure: I was a commission member for four years and advocated for more public art in the District).

This mural was completed in mid-August 2018 at SOKO Outfitters in Czech Village by artist Ely Sotillo (41 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404). Previously, this wall was home to a different mural with gothic inspirations painted by Sirus Fountain in 2015.
Behind Village Meat Market & Cafe is a mural advertising its best products–in the colors of the flag of the Czech Republic, of course (92 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404).
This is the official “Welcome” mural to the Czech Village-New Bohemia District, which celebrates the strong Czech heritage in Cedar Rapids (98 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404).
This was the first set of angel wings commissioned by Mary Kay Novak McGrath as part of her “Angels in the Village” (72 16th St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA). The wings are in the colors of the flag of the Czech Republic.
Here’s rainbow set of wings part of the “Angels in the Village” on the side of brick building in Czech Village (87 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404).
Here’s another colorful (almost intergalactic) set of wings (part of “Angels in the Village”) on the side of a building (62 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404) facing the green space with the Kosek Bandstand (gazebo).
This is another set of wings that is part of the “Angels in the Village”, and it’s on the side of the Czech Cottage (100 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404). This is the adult-sized wings; below is the set of smaller wings.
This is another set of wings that is part of the “Angels in the Village”, and it’s on the side of the Czech Cottage (100 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404). This is the kids-sized wings; above is the set of larger wings.
This “Share the Road” mural was painted by artist J. Allgood (2nd St SW & 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404).
This “Share the Road” mural was painted by artist J. Allgood (2nd St SW & 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404).
The Cedar River Trail is one of my favorite trails, especially to getto Dan & Debbie’s Creamery and Odie’s in Ely. This was taken on the C Street Pedestrian Bridge.

Gone but not forgotten

Here’s a snapshot of the art that was here but is no longer.

The first time I saw “The Frame”, it was at Prairie Park Fishery (2125 Otis Rd SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403).
Before “The Frame” was in its current location, it was on the Cedar Lake trail framing Downtown Cedar Rapids.
Sykora Bakery is a staple in Czech Village, serving Czech favorites including kolache in all flavors and its Bohemian Burger (73 16th Avenue SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404). While Sykora Bakery still stands, the heads are gone.
This was the other side of the container graffiti spray paint mural (see interlocked hands above) that was created during NewBo Art Fest (located in a green space on 3rd St between 10th Ave & 11th Ave, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401) by Dosed Creations. This side was repainted following the demise of Go Cedar Rapids.
This flamingo was painted over the “evolve” side of the graffiti container by Dosed Creations following the demise of Go Cedar Rapids (located in a green space on 3rd St between 10th Ave & 11th Ave, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).
This container graffiti spray paint mural was created during NewBo Art Fest (located in a green space on 3rd St between 10th Ave & 11th Ave, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

This container is part of an urban art installation from the New Bohemia Arts Festival. The festival began in 2007 as the New Bohemia Music Festival. The founders of the festival, the New Bohemia Group, wanted to provide Cedar Rapids with a unique visual and performing arts experience that celebrated the creative spirit of the New Bohemia Arts and Culture District.

“Circle of Trust” by sculptor Hilde DeBryune is at Black Earth Gallery (1010 3rd St SE suite 2, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401).

It’s impossible to talk about art in Czech Village — New Bohemia without mentioning Anne Stamats and Black Earth Gallery. Anne is a pillar of the arts community. She runs Black Earth Gallery, which curates works from artists around the world; produces NewBo Arts Festival; runs 2x2xU, the annual celebration of public art; and helped start First Thursdays in NewBo, an art walk from gallery to gallery.

This rainforest mural was on the Fong’s Pizza building ( 1006 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401). It appears to have been painted over with white, so there may be a new mural on the way!
“Revolution Starts in the Streets” is a temporary public art installation on the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library campus. It is a Berlin Wall replica on the museum campus. (1400 Inspiration Pl SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404).
This temporary art installation is a collaboration between the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Iowa BIG, Metro High School, Iowa-based artist Paco Rosic, and street artist Slon.

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