WILTON, Iowa–Since his college days at Iowa Wesleyan, Steve Braudt has inspired many with his bright and creative murals. A one month trip to Palestine introduced him to the murals of British artist Banksy, further kindling his desire to make meaningful murals of his own.
Later, as the pastor of Winfield United Methodist Church, Braudt created his first mural in 1994 in a high school Sunday school classroom with the help of his students. In the 26 years since he painted his first piece, Braudt has brought many spaces to life with his works, including relatives’ homes, Cedar Falls United Methodist Church, and two separate places in Houston, Texas. Braudt traveled to Palestine where he helped create a mural on a section of the Separation Wall between Palestine and Israel.
More recently, Braudt has used his work to commemorate Wilton’s history. A train lover, Braudt wanted to use his art to tell the story of Wilton’s beginnings as a railroad town. “The original city name was Wilton Junction because it was a railroad hub between Davenport, Muscatine, and Iowa City,” recounted Braudt. He designed his first local mural to tell that story.
With his subject matter in mind, Braudt created a small preview of his design. He then approached the Wilton City Council with it in April of 2019. He requested space on the back of a police department storage building at the corner of Railroad and Maurer Streets, across from the newly dedicated Muscatine County Freedom Rock. The council agreed his work suited the space not far from the Wilton Depot and granted him permission to create his painting there.
Over the span of several months, Braudt brought his mural to life, completing it in the beginning of September. A 720 square foot masterpiece, Braudt detailed how it tells the story of Wilton’s past. “The mural represents history,” he stated, elaborating: “The train and agricultural scene represent the founding of the town around 1855. The railroad depot is in the center of the mural, representing that the railroad industry was the center of community life.”
With work on the mural finished, Braudt hopes many from around the county will come view it and discover more about Wilton’s formative years. Due to its large size, Braudt considers it best viewed from the street. A lifelong artist, Braudt takes pleasure in bringing beautiful original works of art to the City of Wilton and hopes his works will inspire other artists and bring people together, a goal he has for all of his creations.
While this mural may represent Braudt’s first in Wilton, he knows he will create more in the future. He currently has plans for a scene of the modern town planned, which he may present to the city council at a later date. He has also gotten back to his earliest roots, once again helping Sunday school students make murals for their own classrooms, this time at United Methodist Church of Wilton.