Jason Everett of Cedar Rapids is a special man. An alum of Kirkwood Community College and the University of Iowa, he's a veteran of the U.S. Army and currently serves in the Iowa Army National Guard. That's only the beginning.

Several years ago, Everett saw a documentary that inspired him. He made an appeal on Facebook for some skateboards, new or used, to take to Cuba. He called it "Appreci-skate Cuba" and the smiles the skateboards brought fueled him further. He told the Gazette last spring, "It was really impactful."

Since that time, Everett has taken kites to children in Rwanda and Uganda and is the man behind the "HOPE Mural Project." He teamed with Chicago-area school teacher Nancy Bartosz for the project, which has turned into a multitude of murals created by dozens of artists from 22 different countries. The "HOPE" murals have been displayed around the world, and one is now towering over downtown Cedar Rapids.

The Cedar Rapids mural (photos below) was done by two artists from Cedar Rapids and two from Cuba with each creating a letter. A media release from Everett said each created a letter "according to their own artistic style and inspiration." The mural, with each letter seven-feet two-inches high and 3-feet across, will be displayed in Cedar Rapids through April 12.

The "H" was done by Cedar Rapids artist Julius Cavira, a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq. According to last summer's New Bohemia Art Festival, Cavira won his first art competition when he was in fourth grade.


The "O" was painted by Cedar Rapids airbrush artist Scott Takes, the immense talent behind Underground Art Studios in Cedar Rapids.


The "P" was the creation of Yunier Guerrero of Habana Vieja (Old Havana), Cuba. He told Cubaoutsidein,

“I have a theme in my work that includes windows, which represent hope and all things positive. I always paint these windows and beautiful atmospheres while hoping that one day I will be known around the world as the painter of windows. ”


The letter "E" (actually lower case in the mural) was done by Che' Pando and his fellow tattoo artists from his shop 'Toy Store Tattoo" in Havana, Cuba. Tattoo shops aren't legal in Cuba, and National Geographic did a feature on Che' and his shop three years ago.


As Jason Everett said, “Hope and art are two things that transcend the barriers of language, geography, religion, politics and culture.”

The "HOPE" mural overlooks Mays Island from the Veterans Memorial Building downtown at just the right time. While most of the world looks for signs of hope to get past the COVID-19 pandemic, Cedar Rapidians can see one. They just have to look up.

HOPE Mural Towers Over Cedar Rapids