Out-of-town visitors to next year's Nordic Fest are in for a new treat.

Commissioned by the Downtown Decorah Betterment Association, a block-long mural depicting elements of the annual Nordic Fest parade now adorns the east side of the Kephart building at the corner of State and Water Streets in Decorah.

The mural, which measures 10'x115,' was created by Decorah-based artist Carl Homstad.

"Rich Amundson came to us on behalf of Decorah Betterment and asked if Kephart's would be willing to allow a mural on the side of the building," Ann Kephart said. "He said the plan was to have part of the parade including the band, fire truck and color guard. Lynne Kephart owns the building and we were all thrilled to allow it."

Lynne agreed to repaint the building so there would be a clean, fresh coat upon which to paint the mural.

"After Carl started painting we saw that the Nordic Dancers and Luren Singers had been added and were even more pleased," Kephart said. "We are enjoying the mural and positive comments; it makes people smile."

Interview with the artist

DN: How did you decide what to include and what to leave out, in this mural?

CH: I decided on the Nordic Fest Parade because the building is so long and not very tall. I put in the quintessential elements of the parade, which to me are the color guard, the firetruck, the Nordic Dancers, the marching band and the Lauren singers. I left out some of the color guard, half the Nordic Dancers and half the band to fit on the wall.

How long did it take, to paint the mural?

It took two weeks, but I only worked in the afternoon -- so it took seven full days.

Were there any particular challenges working on this piece?

The wall was pretty rough, so it was hard to do detail.

Any particular pleasures?

I appreciated all the positive comments.

What do you most enjoy about doing large-scale public pieces like murals?

It brings art to everybody.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about this mural?

Although I have heard many people say they have found themselves, or someone else, in the mural, the people are not intended to be portraits. Because the wall was rough it was hard to do detail, and changes where made from the photographs I took of the parade to improve the design.

Carl Homstad's artwork has appeared in the books Building with Cob, Carpenter of Song by Michael Carey, Art of the State: Iowa, and Murals of Iowa. It also has appeared in The Artist's Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and on Iowa Public TV's "Living in Iowa." He has judged regional and national art shows and has worked with the Iowa Arts Council in the Artist in the Schools and other programs. In 1998 he received a Distinguished Service Award from Luther College.

For more information visit the artist's website at carlart.com.


Homstad murals in Decorah

• Water Street Circa 1888, 8'x20','1988, Water St. and Mechanic St.

• RC 10 Health Club, Whirlpools and Weight room, 1987 and 1991.

• Water and Winnebago, Circa 1898, 15'x31,' 1994.

• The Iowa Countryside, 12'x60,'1999, Water St. and Mechanic, by Old Armory.

• Threshing Scene, 70'x18,' 2000, on the Senior Center, River and Frances Streets.

• The Garden, 7'x14,' 2000, In the Hotel Winneshiek

• Windows, 3'x9' each, 207 W. Water, on the Ulring building 2006.