This article is presented in partnership with Dutch Country General Store.

When the time was right to adorn Dutch Country General Store’s Hannibal location with a mural that pays tribute to the Midwest and its veterans, the choice for the artist was easy.

Ray Harvey, who has painted more than 600 murals in his 30-year career, has now painted 20 of those murals in Hannibal, including the breathtaking scenes that bedeck the north side of the Dutch Country General Store (DCGS).

“We reached out to Ray Harvey because he was a well-known mural artist in Hannibal and we appreciated his work in the area,” says Levi Good, founder of DCGS, which has a flagship store in southern Iowa. The Hannibal location opened in the spring of 2020.

Levi said it was important that the DCGS mural salute the Great River Honor Flight, which transports area veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to their service and sacrifice for the country. DCGS is an avid supporter of the Great River Honor Flight with annual donations and recognition.

Ray enthusiastically accepted the commission to paint the DCGS mural.

“When they reached out to me to paint the mural, I knew we wanted to pay tribute to the American farmer and our soldiers and the Honor Flight organization,” Ray says. What followed was an epiphany: “Including the farmer with his tractor, working the field with his hand over his heart, taking a pause to appreciate the World War II airplanes soaring above. Complete with our American flag cut into the crops below.”

The mural took about three weeks to complete. Ray used a local resident, Dave, in the mural as well. Dave and his wife had been coming to watch the mural’s progress at DCGS, sometimes bringing Ray something to drink.

“There is a comradery that happens with these murals,” Ray says. “When I am on location, community members track me down and we chat, and I often get to tell the stories behind my paintings.”

Ray was working on the farmer’s likeness and thought about using his own face, but with a few changes.

“Dave came up to me one day and I realized he was a perfect fit with his hat and all,” Ray adds. “He agreed and we set up a small photo shoot and he is now the face of the farmer in my mural.”

When it was complete, Ray had created a stunning farm scene that pays homage to Northeast Missouri’s agricultural heritage, complete with rolling hills in the stylings of Grant Wood, while capturing the deep-rooted patriotism of the American farmer and soldier.

“Residents remember businesses like Dutch Country General Store when they see the mural in the Hannibal area, and it means something.”

Ray has been painting murals in Hannibal since 2018. He was first commissioned to paint three local buildings, one of which was a rehabilitation project, requiring the existing mural to be removed. 

“The mural on this building had been the American Flag as a tribute to 9/11, and so I knew we needed to keep it in some form,” Ray recalls. “I suggested after the brick was repaired that I paint the new mural first rather than after the building was finished. This way we would have it complete for the Fourth of July that year.”

Ray completed the mural in time and the American flag was painted to cover the entire length of the building, drawing community residents to view Old Glory in all its splendor.

Ray says he tries to make all of his paintings “unique and interesting,” knowing that murals will be there everyday, and will last for “a window of time.” He is especially proud of the DCGS mural, adding, “Residents remember businesses like Dutch Country General Store when they see the mural in the Hannibal area, and it means something.”