MASON CITY, Iowa - Driving through Downtown, you may notice some buildings are getting an elaborate fresh coat of paint. One local artist inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright is painting murals on some visible buildings in the River City.
Zoie Papouchis is a student of art.
"Since I was young, I've always admired big art on buildings."
Already an avid painter, she was driving past a mural one time, when she found someone painting a mural and was immediately hooked. She contacted the Mason City Chamber of Commerce, who runs the 'Building Our Brand' program of murals. Though painting a large wall was different than the smaller canvases she was more familiar with, Papouchis had training with two other artists, local Keely Hertzel and University of Iowa student Ali Hval.
"She really showed me a whole new perspective, and I was able to pull a lot from it. Now here I am!"
So far, she's left her mark on four buildings around town, and recently finished a mural on the south side of the Market 124 building on North Delaware.
"We want to try to make it a place where people feel at home and they like what they see."
The combination of the prairie school style that Mason City is known for, and Papaouchis' incorporation of all things audio like a soundboard and the 'pause-play' buttons, tie in well with the plans that building owner Lucas Frein has for the inside the former Affordables on First space, which tenatively includes conference rooms and offices.
"The conceptual idea is a place where people can work together, work on their own, and have a good productive work space."
Frein is already impressed with Papouchis' work, and is hopeful to see more murals pop up in parts of town that may have been neglected or forgotten.
"It's been one of my favorite parts by turning the corner in the morning and seeing this what used to be a bleak landscape something colorful and something awesome to look at that beautifies the neighborhood and keeps developing this part of downtown.'
Papouchis is already hearing plenty of positive feedback on her art.
"It's been a big 'Wow!' to see how much people really care and appreciate this type of stuff."
While she will be taking a break through the colder months, Papouchis says there are plans for another mural this coming spring, and hopes to accomplish painting roughly two to even four each year.
She's hoping to complete the mural by Monday, but is looking for volunteers to help in the process.
Those interested in learning more about the 'Building Our Brand' program can contact Robin Anderson at the Mason City Chamber of Commerce at 641-423-5724.