300 foot Iowa City Airport mural recognizing airport contributions

The open call for artists to paint a 300-foot mural at the Iowa City Airport ended November 14, and the airport will select an artist whose design recognizes the airport’s contributions to the community and Iowa City’s southernmost entrance brightened.

Matthew Kennedy

The hangars where the mural will be painted on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at Iowa City Airport.


The Iowa City Municipal Airport will add a vibrant stretch of vibrant artwork that showcases the city’s aviation history and the airport’s contributions.

The Iowa City Airport Commission and Iowa City Public Art Advisory Committee in October issued an open call for artists to design and paint a 12-foot-tall, 300-foot-long mural for the side of the aircraft hangar that faces South Riverside Drive . the southernmost entrance to Iowa City.

The open call for artists ended on November 14 and the Airport Commission is now in the process of selecting an artist and design.

This is the first mural project the airport has ever pursued, but it’s just one of many ways Iowa City Airport has connected with the public and made connections.

Alongside the mural, the Iowa City Airport organized film screenings where the public can picnic outside and watch films on observation decks or watch planes take off and land. In addition, the airport hosted events such as the Young Eagles Flight Program Pancake Breakfast.

“The Airport Commission is always trying to find ways to better connect with the community to find things that can help bring the community to the airport,” said Michael Tharp, Iowa City airport manager. “The airport is one of those entities that, unless you use it directly, is one of those things that exist, but most people probably have no reason to interact with it.”

Tharp said that because of the airport’s impressive and unique history, it is important to increase interaction with the community.

“The story of the history of the Iowa City Airport in that it started out where it is today but spent a few acres back then on someone else’s dairy farm and from there it has grown into a much larger airport that it is today.” with some really standout story points in between,” said Wendy Ford, economic development coordinator and liaison for the Iowa City Public Art Advisory Committee.

Nicknamed “Smith Field” in honor of an early airmail pilot who died in a plane crash, Iowa City Airport is the oldest civilian airport west of the Mississippi River still in its original location. In 1920 it became the only stop on the first airmail flight from Chicago to Omaha.

In 1927 the first commercial flight to Iowa City took place. Later that year, under contract with Boeing Air Transport, the airport became a major air crossing point.

The Iowa City Airport Commission is searching for a mural that recognizes this rich history and incorporates it into the artwork. This mural not only tells the story of the airport, but it also makes an eye-catching welcome to anyone traveling to or living in Iowa City.

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“I’m in one of the neighborhoods very close by so I have a perspective from the neighborhoods nearby and I think that helps when we look at things,” said Judy Pfohl, chair of the Iowa City Airport Commission.

The idea for a mural in the hangar was considered but not implemented until this year, when the Public Art Advisory Committee allocated $8,000 from the city’s art budget for the mural project. The total budget for the mural is $38,000, most of which the airport expects to raise through donations.

Tharp said the mural will recognize the contributions Iowa City Airport has made as a significant economic contributor to the community.

According to an Iowa Department of Transportation Aviation Economic Impact study conducted in early November, the Iowa City Municipal Airport makes $24 million annually, money that helps support jobs in the area and generates millions in tax revenue.

“[The mural] not only helps with the airport and connects us to the community, but also fosters those relationships with other people in the city,” said Tharp.

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