The Writers’ Workshop at Iowa University, in Iowa City, is famous for turning out successful fiction writers and poets, including Jane Smiley, Michael Cunningham and Rita Dove. Alumni and other writers frequently return to Iowa City to give readings. One venue is the independent Prairie Lights Bookstore, which hosts a reading series that brings writers from around the country.
Native son Grant Wood captured the essence of Iowa in his portrayals of farmers, their families and Iowa’s rolling cornfields. Setting great stock in the inspiration his home state gave him, Wood said, "A true art expression must grow up from the soil itself." The artist lived for many years in Cedar Rapids, where he taught art in public schools, and later in Iowa City, where he taught at the University of Iowa. Many of Wood’s paintings are on view at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which holds the country’s largest Wood collection, along with works by Rembrandt and Jasper Johns.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art also owns Grant Wood’s former home and studio, where he lived from 1924 to 1934. It was there in 1930 that he painted American Gothic, his most famous work. A few blocks from the museum, the Wood studio is open for tours on weekend afternoons.