A Cedar Rapids artist is spreading more than just holiday cheer. Over the last four months, Gary Connors-Boe has worked with his paint brush to turn a plain, white-walled downtown skywalk into a place of inspiration.
“People are calling it the feel-good part of the skywalk, which is what I think we were going for,” said Connors-Boe. The colorful mural features children playing, running, jumping, swimming — and a host of inspirational phrases. It runs over a stretch of skywalk that covers two football fields in length. Downtown workers like Tim Werth say they’ve watched the mural’s progress over the months and love it.
“I think it’s a nice thing to see,” Werth says. “There are some areas on the Third and Fourth Avenue Parkade that could be brightened up and have something added to them.” It’s a huge canvas and to get enough ideas and sayings, the artist had to draw on his 30 years of working with children. Connors-Boe recently retired after spending many of those years at Four Oaks, a non-profit child welfare, juvenile justice and behavioral health agency, headquartered in Cedar Rapids. Four Oaks president Jim Ernst is thrilled with the mural’s reception.
Ernst says, “It kinda’ says we as adults look at the world one way, but as we talk to a young child, he’s seeing it different.” The artist says hundreds and hundreds of people make their way through the city’s skywalks every day. Connors-Boe says, “If it helps them to do a little bit better job with their own children or think in a more global way about the needs of children, then I’m happy.” He adds, just a little art can make a big difference.
By Justin Foss, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids