Ask UsCalendar Catalog

Lenoch & Cilek Building Mural

In 1992-93 students from the Iowa City Community School Senior High Alternative Center, under the supervision of Dr. Hani Elkadi, painted a mural inside the former Lenoch & Cilek building on the pedestrian mall at the corner of College and Dubuque Streets. When the Lenoch & Cilek building was purchased by the City in 2001 the mural was cut into 15 individual sections which were framed and displayed at organizations throughout the community.

About the Mural's Restoration

In spring 2001 the Library Board responded positively to requests from the community to restore and preserve the mural painted in the central corridor of the Lenoch & Cilek Building by Iowa City Community School District Community Education Center (CEC) students in 1993. The Board recognized that a major effort would be needed in partnership with many in the community to save the work prior to demolition of the Lenoch & Cilek Building to make way for the Library addition.

Assistant Director, Liz Nichols, coordinated an ad hoc Mural Committee to guide the project to completion. Other Committee members included Library Trustee, Jim Swaim, former Trustee, Winston Barclay, and representatives of the original artists and their families, including Dr. Hani Elkadi, Donna Van Bibber, and Matt Preciado.

Initially, Dr. Elkadi, who teaches Art and Science at the Alternative High School and who supervised the original mural project, made it a class project in the spring 2001 trimester to restore the mural to its original condition. In October Howard Horan, Horan Studios, donated his services to photograph the mural.

The Mural Committee concluded that it would be virtually impossible to remove the entire 26-plus ft. wall. It would be too heavy and too difficult to find a suitable location for the entire work. The group decided that it was appropriate to section the mural into its original components in order to preserve the most significant mural scenes. There were about twelve discrete scenes composed by various students from the CEC program with the assistance of artists in the community. The Mural Committee proposed to save as many of these pieces as possible.

The group received some expert advice and volunteer assistance from several individuals in the building trades. Contractor, John Loomis, helped to plan the extraction of the wall pieces, and worked along-side a group of volunteers from Carpenters Local 1260. One Saturday in October 2002, after several saw blades and one burnt out saw, all but one major piece of the mural had been saved. The volunteers who spent a morning painstakingly removing wall sections were Local 1260 members, Patrick Hughes, Jake Babcock, Edward Dallago, Mike Meggers, Michael Pickett, Steve Stewart, architect, Paul Nichols, Hani Elkadi, John Loomis, and Liz Nichols. This project couldn't have been successful without the expert skills of the building trades volunteers.

Eight of the pieces were given a final restoration by Dr. Elkadi and were then framed by a collaboration of The Woodworkers (David Naso) and The Art Mission (Kathy Rash). When the new Library has been constructed two of these pieces will hang in the Young Adult area.  The other framed pieces will be out on "indefinite loan" to various agencies and businesses in the community.

Framed Pieces information

Some of the framed works are slightly different than the original mural. For instance, the horse now appears to be leaping over the Old Capitol and a Hawkeye hot air balloon as a reminder of images that were not saved.  The couple with the child in the stroller now includes a second child, Elkadi's daughter, Nina, to balance the composition.

For more information, please contact Candice Smith at 319.887.6031 or