December 09, 2021

IMMACULATE MURAL: Integrity cleans up First Avenue with downtown artwork by Des Moines artist

Painting features Dusty the Duck, interactive elements to be used for future promotional purposes

As the owner of Integrity Cleaning & Restoration, James Miller already plays a part in keeping Newton neat and tidy, but a recent addition to his downtown business is cleaning up the city — specifically, First Avenue — in other ways.

On the west side of Integrity’s office building, 402 First Ave. E., is a newly painted mural. The piece measures about 55 feet wide and features the local business’ blue- and-red color scheme, thought bubbles highlighting its services and, of course, mascot Dusty the Duck front-and-center, ready for a selfie opportunity.

“It catches people’s attentions,” James Miller said. “It’s like a big billboard.”

The mural was painted by Des Moines artist Kathleen Roling, who is known for her 3D chalk art. Although she is used to creating large-scale art, the scope of the Integrity mural — which took about three weekends of work to complete — was a challenge. Roling said it is the biggest mural she’s painted in her career.

“It was a different challenge than just painting on a canvas, because it’s not like I can see the whole thing at once right in front of me — it’s so big I have to break it up into sections,” Roling said. “And then I have to keep it to scale. Keeping everything really, really large is a whole other mindset for sure.”

Much like the Red Pride mural on the wall of Cappy’s Tire & Auto Service and the Love Lives Here near Kayla’s Dance Company, the Integrity mural features interactive elements. In addition to the “selfie opp” section next to Dusty, the mural encourages visitors to use the hashtag #DustyDuckSelfie.

“For murals on a wall, this is the first one I’ve done an interactive element,” Roling said. “But the temporary murals are always interactive. They’re all about getting your photo taken on it. I would say it’s kind of my preference, my element. It’s fun to make art that people can enjoy and be a part of the art themselves.”

Integrity’s mural is one of many new art pieces to show up in Newton’s downtown district this past year. James Miller suggested murals have certainly boosted the aesthetics of the area; his wife, Janelle Miller, also said the city has a long history of using artwork as a means to spruce itself up.

Janelle Miller said, “I don’t know how many murals there are now here in town. But there are a lot of murals kind of tucked around corners.”

“It’s good to keep First Avenue looking clean,” James Miller added. “We probably have a responsibility to do our part and to to make our town look good. Murals are slightly outside the box and a little creative. So I think it probably adds a lot to the town.”

James Miller said the company may organize promotions with the mural by having customers take pictures next to Dusty for a chance to win free services.

Integrity’s services include carpet, upholstery and house cleaning, mold remediation, duct/dryer vent cleaning and water and fire damage restorations, among other things. James Miller said about eight employees work at Integrity, which has been in business since 2004; this month marks its 17th anniversary.

The Integrity mural also marks Roling’s first art piece in Newton. And she’s ready for more.

“Everybody, I want to do more!” Roling said.

See more of Roling’s work at www.kathleenrolingart.com

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.