Demolition of Wells Fargo Bank Reveals Mural

A portion of the Black Hawk mural that was painted in 1976.

The recent tear-down of an old bank building downtown Iowa City uncovered a mural buried years ago. Three American bison are what remain of what was a larger mural painted in the 1970s by Iowa art students.

For more than 30 years the mural has been covered by the walls of a Wells Fargo bank building. Construction workers uncovered the piece of history during demolition of the building.

The American Bison remained hidden and well preserved for 36 years.

According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, during the 1970s a project was executed by Donna Friedman and several of her UI environmental design students to beautify the city which was in the midst of a massive urban renewal project. The project was design to bring color and life to a downtown area that was all torn up.

Currently, the plans are for a new 14-story building to replace the bank building, which will ultimately cover up the buffalo mural again. While it would be interesting to preserve it in some way, it is unlikely that will be possible.

It is also interesting to note that at the time this mural was rediscovered, the “Solidarity” mural was just being unveiled. Is it fate or just a strange coincidence?

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3 Responses to Demolition of Wells Fargo Bank Reveals Mural

  1. gnatseyeview says:

    What a cool find! Too bad it will be under-cover again.

  2. This is really neat! You should take a picture of it and preserve it in post card form or something. It would be a shame if it were completely forgotten again. In fact, I want a copy of the picture. Would you take one for me? Great article! I love how generations of art can be uncovered. I suppose public art is special because it never stays the same for very long. Hopefully people enjoy the sight until the other building covers it up. Don’t forget about my close-up picture 🙂

  3. Kirsten Schreiber says:

    I noticed this when walking around and thought it was something they just painted, not something that has been covered up for years. I wish it would remain visible. It reminds me of trips I’ve made out west and I like having that vibe in Iowa City.

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