Malvern (60 Minutes) – There’s a reason that Malvern is “Artfully Growing”. This community of about 1,000 people has really embraced the role of the arts in their community. Not only have they realized that creative placemaking and an active arts community helps attract visitors to their town, but it also attracts new residents. With quality of life at the forefront of people’s minds when they are looking for a place to live, small towns like Malvern have a lot to offer! The influx of tourists and new residents alike help their small businesses thrive. Downtown is the perfect place to start your day off! Between C&M’s Café, The Classic Café (with a historical mural of Malvern by Zack Jones and many of his paintings regularly on display) and Moreau’s Backerei, your breakfast and lunch options are plentiful. Take your craft coffee to-go and explore downtown! Woody Jones has created five metal tree sculptures that have been installed downtown, each as unique as they are beautiful. (Interesting note: there is a different bird hidden in the branches of each tree. See if you can find them all!) One tree has silver leaves that flutter in the wind, one has vines planted at the base that are climbing the limbs to create a living sculpture, one is a slick black with silver leaves, one is a rustic weathered steel, and the most recent installation has a lively face on the trunk and branches full of bicycles. In the background of the bike tree is a 30’ by 60’ mural by Zack Jones, depicting a scene from the Wabash Trace, complete with one of the iconic overhead truss railroad bridges, a cyclist, and native flora and fauna.
If you want to see more of Zack’s larger-than-life works, call ahead and schedule a visit to the Art Church. This former Presbyterian Church gained a new life when Zack converted it into a studio, gallery, event venue and overnight accommodations. The interior ceilings and walls are painted as a Midwest sunset scene. From the Art Church, a block and a half walk around the corner will get you to Fine Arts on 5th, owned by artist Marge Boska. In addition to studio classes by herself and other artists, Fine Arts on 5th features works by roughly a dozen regional artists. During the Southwest Iowa Art Tour, the art community seems even larger! Located between Art Church and Fine Arts on 5th, artists Anna Stoysich and Jorge Chavez have Colorado Studios open from their home during the 3rd weekend in September! If you get the chance, you’ll also want to visit Malvern on a Saturday night in the summer for the Malvern Market Concert Series. Regional musicians play at Heritage Park downtown, and local vendors sell their produce and wares.