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Adel Commissions Mural Integrating Technology with Art

Adel, Iowa Mural

May 6, 2024

Roughly 8,000 vehicles a day pass through Adel Iowa on US Highway 169. Now when they stop at the controlled intersection with Main Street, they will be met with a 40-foot by 15-foot mural headlined “This is Adel.” The mural features photographic scenes of historical and current attractions and a bigger-than-life photo of former resident Nile Kinnick, Jr. holding his Heisman Trophy. The mural was designed by Lazier Graphics & Signs and is printed on a vinyl sheet and attached to the bricks of the historic building located at 715 Main St. with a special adhesive.

The mural is not only a reflection of Adel’s vibrant culture and history, but it is the first-of-a-kind city mural that integrates technology with public art. For example, should one of those 8,000 vehicles park and the driver walks up to the mural (or a visitor rides their bike a short three blocks off the Raccoon River Valley Trail) they will be astounded when scanning the nearby posted QR code. Courtesy of the software genius of VAEZR Studios, the photos on the mural will move to different positions, the school fight song will play, firework effects will burst, and the words “Live Work Play” will appear. There will even be an opportunity for the viewer to insert their own photo into the mural for a unique selfie opportunity. The mural is on the side of the building housing Fiesta Restaurant and is by Uptown Vintage Market. Adel Flowers and Gifts is located directly across the street, and Azalea Lane Boutique is just next door, which provides ample opportunities for visitors to stop and shop.

Adel Mural 

Completing the Adel Mural

The Adel Partners Chamber’s Art and Trail Committee commissioned the first-of-its-kind interactive graphic mural and raised the funds for the design and installation. The group has previously been involved in providing landscaping along the nearby Raccoon River Valley Trail, adding 66 LED color-changing lights to the historic railroad bridge over the Raccoon River and adding a 15-foot art pole along the trail. Artistic presentations such as murals can be just as much of an economic development tool as the bike trail, but since much of downtown Adel is in a National Historic Register district, painting a mural on a historic brick building posed difficulties. Not only was their concern for damaging the brick, but questions on who would own and maintain a mural were not easily answerable. A vinyl mural offered a non-permanent solution, being easy to remove with only a low pressured power washer and not requiring future maintenance as a painted mural would. The committee was also attracted by the possibility of changing the mural every several years to keep it fresh and exciting.

The process to complete the mural happened over several months. I had previously viewed a similar mural at the Iowa State Fair last summer, and, after suggesting the concept to the full committee, Adel Partners Chamber President Deb Bengtson reached out to Pete Lashier and invited his group to meet with the committee. Pete and his designers were adept at taking the suggestions from 12 committee members who all had different views and concepts in mind. However, utilizing Nile Kinnick and a brick theme was paramount since Adel is known for both! Lashier’s returned with three quite different designs, and the group chose one, asking for further modifications. One more meeting resulted in agreement on the theme and colors to be used. After deciding on the printed version, it was then time to meet with VAEZR to discuss the variations of augmented reality that were available and what could be done within our specified budget.

Adel Mural Ribbon Cutting

During the design process, Deb and I met with local service clubs and successfully obtained donations from the local Kiwanis, Lions and Women’s Club groups. A grant application was also submitted to the Dallas County Foundation and a presentation was made to the Historical Committee to ensure we were within their guidelines. The Adel Partners Chamber’s This is Adel Committee contributed funds raised from previous home and garden tours, and the Arts and Trail Committee provided the balance needed from funds generated through the annual Sweet Corn 5K race. Local business owners Antonio Berber and Matt Roundcount provided funding and support in creating a small pocket park around the mural to help enhance the area.

The mural is up, and the public is invited to a ribbon cutting and unveiling of the interactive portion at Noon on Wednesday, May 8. The event will feature remarks from the Chamber, city officials and community leaders. Representatives from Lashier Graphics and VAEZR and committee members will be on hand to answer any questions.

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Rebecca Hillmer

Rebecca Hillmer is Chair of the Adel Partners Chamber’s Arts and Trail Committee, a Board Member and past Chair of Adel Partners Chamber.