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New Skywalk Mural Brings Artistry to Downtown DSM

Downtown DSM Skywalk Mural

February 26, 2020

Over the last five years, I have had a mission to bring great artists and murals to Greater Des Moines (DSM). After traveling to places like Austin, Nashville and Atlanta I got the “mural bug” and thought that this could be a way where my business could literally help change the face of our city. Now, it’s important to note that our murals were not the first in DSM but we began focusing on creating more, quality murals where we could partner with business owners directly to paint on their walls. In these past five years we have helped to create over 40 exterior murals in the region.

Of course, Downtown DSM has its beautiful buildings, green spaces and sidewalks for art but it also has the added benefit of the skywalks. Operation Downtown had the brilliant idea to bring murals “up” to the skywalk so that those using them could enjoy art year-round as well. Thousands of people use the skywalk each year, so it’s a huge opportunity for an artist to have their work included along their daily commute.

Artist Ashley Mary Brightens Up Skywalk with Playful Design

Ashley Mary DSM Skywalk MuralI was thrilled to see that we had artists from around the country respond to our RFP with incredible ideas. DSM is a place where they all want to create and show their work. Minneapolis-based artist Ashley Mary was chosen for her colorful, playful design. Per Ashley, she “creates abstract paintings that tap into concepts of youth, playfulness and curiosity through the use of thick textures, vibrant colors, and organic and familiar shapes. Her process is influenced heavily by her collage work, vintage ephemera and her background in graphic design. Ashley’s work tries to pay attention to the unintentional and to leave space to be surprised.”

Ashley and her assistant Lauren came to create the mural in the Insurance Exchange Building’s skywalk at the end of January, just before the Iowa Caucuses. People interacted with them constantly while they worked, expressing their happiness that a joyful design would brighten their daily commute.Ashley Mary Skywalk Mural in DSM Since the mural has been up, we have been thrilled to see the social media posts interacting with the mural and how many people consider Ashley to be one of their favorite artists.

An incredible benefit to public art, like this mural, is that it can change people’s perception of their daily routine. Study after study has shown that people believe an area is happier, safer and cleaner with the simple addition of adding art.

A huge thank you to the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Operation Downtown, our art selection committee, Graham Group and Ashley for all of the work put into this mural. Placing a new piece of public art in our city is always a privilege and we are so thankful for the opportunity.

Named as the #3 Best Place to Live in the U.S. and #7 Best City for Living the American Dream, Greater Des Moines (DSM) is the fastest growing metro in the Midwest. Learn more about what it’s like to live here.