Java Queen is "docked" in Guttenberg
By Shelia Tomkins
A colorful new mural in downtown Guttenberg celebrates the community's riverboat heritage. Located on the north interior wall of The Riverside Grind, artist Molly Moser recently completed a painting of a mythical sternwheeler dubbed The Java Queen.
The project had its genesis in a suggestion made by a coffee shop patron to owner Cheryll Shireman, who then approached Molly with the idea.
"The subject matter was clear from the beginning," said Molly. "Cheryll is a river fanatic and she loves to take pictures of boats, eagles, and river scenes."
With the Mississippi River just a stone's throw east of her shop and residence, Cheryll has captured many glorious views of the ever-changing river. The mural is based on a photo she took this summer of the American Queen sternwheeler at sunrise.
It was decided to paint the mural on the north wall of the coffee shop. Cheryll did the groundwork by covering the formerly dark brown wall with a coat of light blue paint. Molly painted the mural after-hours, a process that took about a month.
"I struggled because I normally paint with oil, but I was using acrylics," she said. "It was so thin I had to do layer after layer."
As a work in progress, the mural generated daily conversation among the coffee drinkers. "The customers could see the evolution from start to finish," she said.
Molly is a familiar face at The Grind as she spent the past year there as a barista. Press readers will also recognize her name as the newspaper's talented freelance writer.
Cheryll was pleased with the finished project, and has received positive feedback from her customers. "They love it," she said. "People are saying they would like to see more of this type of thing around town."
The Grind mural is located just around the corner from an exterior mural featuring a riverboat. Located on the north wall of the Esser building, it was completed several years ago by artist Carl Homstad of Decorah.
Molly has proposed a citywide mural project to enhance the vibrancy of the community. The project would put indoor murals in any publicly accessible building, using site-specific images that relate to Guttenberg's history and culture as a river town. She plans to apply for a grant from the Iowa Arts Council that, if received, could cover half the cost of the project.