The cover art --- perhaps destined to be an iconic image of the Cedar Valley --- features artwork by local artists Gary Kelley and Paco Rosic. An unveiling ceremony took place Wednesday at the Waterloo Center for the Arts, hosted by the Cedar Falls and Waterloo tourism and visitors bureaus.
"I don't think I've ever seen a visitors guide cover that is as unique. What we were able to do with Gary and Paco's help is tell a bit more story and draw people into the publication because there's more depth in the artwork. It evokes some emotion," said Aaron Buzza, executive director of the Waterloo Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Kim Burger, manager of the Cedar Falls Tourism and Visitors Bureau, described it as "an amazing project and a beautiful image that's going to make our visitors guide very appealing."
Courier Communications coordinated the project, including design and layout.
Burger made the initial contact with Kelley and suggested the collaboration with Rosic.
"I thought it was a really interesting idea, and I got excited about it," recalled Kelley of Cedar Falls, an internationally recognized illustrator. Rosic migrated to the United States from Sarajevo, Bosnia, as a child. The artist has taken aerosol art --- graffiti --- to new heights, including a scale version of the Sistine Chapel at his family's restaurant, Galleria de Paco.
Turns out, it was an easy collaboration.
"We've hung out together," Kelley said. "We both like Picasso, so we have that in common. Rosic said 'You go ahead and come up with the idea and design the image, then I'll paint my half of it and you can paint yours.' So that's what we did."
"I wanted to come up with a single image that would summarize what we're about, as far as tourism goes. I'd always wanted to do a painting of bicycle riders at their leisure. The Cedar Valley Nature Trail connects the two towns, so it came together," Kelley said.
He drew the image on a large canvas. Rosic painted the left side with aerosol cans of acrylic paint in his characteristic style, and Kelley painted the right side, using an artist's brush and traditional oil paints.
Kelley is equally happy with the results.
"Paco spilled some of his work onto my half, and I finished my side, spilling onto his half to join it. It was an equal opportunity split down the middle."
The original artwork will be displayed at downtown locations in both cities, and the Waterloo Center for the Arts and Hearst Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls. At the end of 2012, the painting will be sold and funds used to commission an artwork along the nature trail.
Limited edition posters are available at both bureaus, $25 for unsigned and $35 for posters signed by the artists.