MUSCATINE, Iowa–Take a drive down Cedar Street in downtown Muscatine and a colorful surprise will greet you. At the corner of Second Street, a large mural of brightly colored and patterned hearts gracefully float up the side of a building to form a larger heart shape, welcoming passers by and bringing joy to many during a difficult time.
After traveling around the country and seeing many public art displays, Bill and Samantha Kaufmann, owners of Pearl City Tattoo Lounge, wanted to commission one in their hometown. “We have been to a bunch of other cities and they have a ton of art in their downtowns, so we wanted to bring that to downtown Muscatine,” Shared Samantha Kaufmann.
To that end, they reached out to Johan Umaña, visual arts pastor at Calvary Church. A painter for the past 20 years, Umaña began his career in his home country of Costarica, creating a painting for a school. In the last ten years, he has expanded his repertoire to include large scale murals as well.
The Kaufmanns requested a mural that not only turned heads but that had a message of sharing kindness and loving the world and everyone in it as well. As Umaña explained it, “they sent me a few links with ideas, but they wanted me to put my own spin on it.” From August 1-4, Umaña spent about 25 hours bringing his masterpiece to life. Later in the week, he returned to put a clear coat on it to keep it looking fresh for years to come.
As they watched the mural take shape, the Kaufmanns could not believe just how beautiful Umaña’s work turned out. “We think it looks amazing so far,” said Samantha Kaufmann. “We wanted it bright and eye catching and a focal point for the community to interact with it and have fun with it,” she added.
Umaña shared their enthusiasm stating, “I think it looks great.” He also felt pleased that its bright colors, a palate he has begun using more frequently, “changes the look and feel of a place.”
When local residents walk by and stop to admire Umaña’s work, the Kaufmanns encourage them to take photos with it. For those on Facebook or Instagram, they encourage them to share their pictures using #lovetheworldyourein @pearlcitytattoolounge. They hope images of this mural (and others they plan to commission in the future) will fill social media with positive images and encourage people to visit Muscatine. Umaña encourages you to find out more about his other local projects as well by following him on Instagram @joekacr.