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The new ArtHaus mural aims to spark curiosity, conversation, and community

Posted: Wed, Oct 7, 2020 10:08 AM

When Mathew Havran and his wife started their family, they knew they wanted to move from their first home in Ridgeway to the heart of Decorah.  Havran explains, "We love the culture and overall community here in Decorah." And now, using his mostly self-taught art skills, Havran is contributing to the way the heart of Decorah beats with his eye-catching mural at the new ArtHaus building.

Havran's mural, which is expected to be completed sometime in October, is remaking what was once the dull southwest corner of Washington and Broadway Streets. His goal with his art is to enhance the community.  He says, "It (art) allows people to be inspired and entertained. Art brings vision to life, and helps people see things in a different way. When art becomes visible in communities, people come together and talk about it. Children see it and realize that possibilities are endless and maybe begin to imagine their own creations being displayed someday." He hopes his mural sparks curiosity, conversation, and community.

Replacing the building's previously gray exterior are vibrant colors with many intricate details to keep onlookers coming back for more glances. Some of the details, such as the owl's wings and the umbrella section, are interactive as each invites people to step up and be "in" the mural for a picture or two. Havran comments, "I wanted the mural to express the vision and mission of Arthaus by encompassing art and creativity. I also wanted it to be visually entertaining, colorful, and overall fun for people of all ages."

Hints of Havran's inspirations for being an artist can be found throughout the new mural, including a smiling Bob Ross painted on the door of the "Little Free Craft Closet." The door includes a few "happy" little trees.  Havran also credits his grandmother, who was an oil painter, and Walt Disney. When it comes to specific ideas for art, he says his inspiration comes "mainly from dreams as well as the occasional random shower/driving thoughts."

According to Havran, artists play an essential role in communities.  He says, "Artists help others see the world in a new way. They bring to life the ideas and dreams that had previously lived only in their own minds. They bring joy, excitement, and hope."

The ArtHaus mural is not the first time Havran has brought joy, excitement and hope to Decorah.  He explains, "I have two (murals) at the SugarBowl in Decorah (inside upstairs and outside on the balcony floor)." He has also completed murals for his son's nursery and for a residential project.

The future of this community-impacting artist is not fully known, but Havran has quite a few plans in place. "I have several passion projects in the works such as a book that I am illustrating for a talented writer and musician, publishing my own books that I have written and illustrated, painting rocks for "Decorah Rocks", and more. In the big picture, possibilities are endless and I'll never say never. I will never stop creating in any capacity. Art is an integral part of who I am."