ia: The best of Iowa arts and culture
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Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Iowa Pork is Preferred Around the World!

Why do consumers around the world love the taste of Iowa pork? And what's the impact on Iowa pig farmers and our communities? Laurie Johns has the answers.

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"Homage to Immigrants," created by Gary Kelley, Thomas Agran and Ali Hval, is a new mural in Cedar Rapids. Photo: Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District


The river isn’t the only rapid part of Cedar Rapids. These days, paint flows pretty freely, too.

Artists finished another mural earlier this month in the ever-evolving Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District. Designed by the prolific Cedar Falls illustrator Gary Kelley and painted by Iowa City artists Thomas Agran and Ali Hval, “Homage to Immigrants” honors the many people—from many places—who’ve come to Cedar Rapids over the years to build a new life for themselves and their community. There's a blacksmith, a woman washing laundry, a pair of workers sorting apples, and others, all painted in the 1930s style of the Works Progress Administration.

The NewBo mural adorns the west wall of the Ideal Social Hall across from Kickstand, a popular riverside brewery. It’s one of dozens of public artworks in the neighborhood, one of 13 Iowa Cultural and Entertainment Districts designated by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

Another major mural was completed last summer across the river in the Czech Village. “Mucha Meets Iowa” honors the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, who pioneered the art nouveau style around the turn of the 20th century.
Estate Planning and The Future of Estate Tax

Many people have heard the term “estate planning” but most individuals will not do any form of estate planning even though it may provide a significant benefit. Learn more about how A sound estate plan will minimize future estate taxes and maximize wealth for yourself and future generations.
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“How the Big Bad Wolf Got His Comeuppance,” illustrated by Arthur Geisert and written by Lisa Wilke Pope, is the second in Geisert’s trilogy based on the scenery of Clayton County. Geisert’s illustrations, like the one shown here, are currently on display in Dubuque.


Illustrations by Arthur Geisert, three-time winner of the New York Times' Best Illustrated Children's Book Award and now living in northeast Iowa, are currently on display at the Dubuque Museum of Art. From his new book, “How the Big Bad Wolf Got His Comeuppance,” the illustrations are inspired by Clayton County’s towns and colorful countryside.

Written by Elkader public library director Lisa Wilke Pope, the new book reinterprets the story of the three little pigs and how they outwit the crafty wolf. Geisert’s whimsical illustrations complement the storyline.  

The book is part of a trilogy—all set in Clayton County. The first book, published in 2019, was “Pumpkin Island,” which was set in Elkader. The final book will feature the trolls living under the stone bridges on the Turkey River.

Geisert and Pope's new book will be on sale at the museum bookstore starting Aug. 30.
A new show, "This Is Not a Game of Baseball," tells the story of Dock Ellis, who threw a no-hitter in 1970 while high on LSD. Photo: Mirrorbox Theatre


Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 12, 1970. He didn’t remember it, however, because he was high on LSD.

Intrigued? So is the playwright Cavan Hall, whose new show about the event will receive its world premiere next month in Marion. Mirrorbox Theatre plans to present “This Is Not a Game of Baseball” Sept. 17-26 in a clearing at Allen’s Orchard (5801 10th St.).

“The novelty of the historical moment was the hook, but the more I read about Dock Ellis”in news articles and a 1989 memoir“the more his story resonated with my interests, especially about memory,” Hall says. “Here was this famous athlete who was sober for 20-some years after his career, but is best known for something he can’t even remember.”

Hall has covered a wide range of topics in previous shows, including the musical “The Suffragists,” which premiered last month in Cedar Falls with support from the Iowa Arts Council. His touring productions have been performed for nearly 5 million students across the United States.

But the story of the late pitcher once known as “the Muhammad Ali of baseball” offered new creative opportunities. Hall’s plot follows the arc of that strange 1970 game while the actors playing Ellis’ teammates, including Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, double as characters from the pitcher’s complicated personal life.

“Once I figured out that the LSD trip offered unlimited permission for narrative exploration and experimentation,” Hall says, “that’s when we were off to the races.”
Root in downtown Waverly creates mineral-based cosmetics—all beautiful and easy to use.


Krista Dolash is carving out a niche in the multibillion-dollar cosmetics industry with Root, a Waverly-based natural and organic makeup company that has green beauty bloggers buzzing.

The business grew from a hobby, which stemmed from Dolash’s desire to eliminate toxic chemicals from her everyday life. Reading the ingredients on the supposedly natural makeup she was using, she discovered a list of what she considered to be harmful fillers.

“I felt misled and honestly kind of bummed out,” says Dolash. That prompted her to order raw ingredients and start formulating her own vegan, gluten-free mineral-based foundation in her kitchen. In October of 2013, Root launched online. The vividly pigmented products, with their hot pink packaging and affordable prices (eyeshadow is $10 and tinted lip balm is $8, for example), were a hit.

“The industry has just blown up,” Dolash says. “It’s been insane that people are so conscious about natural products, and I feel fortunate that we were at the forefront of it.”

In the last few years, Dolash has focused on expansion into lines for hair, home and skin care while keeping the company’s growth as organic as her products. Find the business in downtown Waverly (100 E. Bremer Ave.) or online at
Night Glow, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18, in Creston, showcases hot air balloons in the twilight. Photo: Travel Iowa


Captivating designs and colors will take flight in Creston for the 43rd annual Creston Hot Air Balloon Festival, scheduled for Sept. 16-19. Festivities kick off at 4:30 p.m. that Thursday with a pork chop dinner at McKinley Park, followed by the first flights of balloons at 5 p.m. Friday night.

The first full day of events will be Sept. 18, with food stands, tethered balloon rides, a craft fair and a pet show. It caps off with night glow, where the flames from hot air balloons light up the twilight sky. Admission is free. Social distancing will be implemented and masks are recommended.


Join us at 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 31 for a fast-paced, action-oriented look at what you and your organization can do to stop food insecurity in Iowa. "Countdown to fight hunger: Top 10 ways your business can fight hunger now," an upcoming virtual Iowa Stops Hunger event, will highlight leading individuals and companies in Iowa that are fighting food insecurity by giving food, giving time or giving funds—or all of those things.

Participants will leave equipped with the facts on hunger, inspired to do more, and with a list of 10 top ideas you and your company can implement today. Register for free here.

Iowa Stops Hunger is a year long Business Publications Corporation (BPC) initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa. BPC publishes this newsletter as well as ia and dsm magazines.

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