Cedar Rapids Art Museum and Baxa’s Sutliff Tavern


I was back on the road for work late last week, this time for a press check of our university calendar at Cedar Graphics, a printer in Hiawatha, Iowa.

If you’ve never done a press check (and I’m assuming most of you haven’t, because it’s a very specific, weird, print-publications kind of thing), here’s how it goes: You’re looking at a printer’s form (several images on a large sheet of paper, sometimes on both sides of the sheet, sometimes not). You’re checking to be sure that the printed version is the same as the proof you signed off on earlier, and you’re comparing color to make sure it matches. You’re spending somewhere between 10 minutes (if things are going well) and an hour or more (if things are going very badly) on each form. Depending on the project, sometimes there are just three or four forms, so this sounds like a quick, easy thing to do. And sometimes it is. Depending on the press and the quantity, sometimes the time between forms is just an hour or two.

But for this particular project, there are often six or seven hours between forms, and occasionally longer. So my designer, Scott, and I try to find things to do while we’re waiting for the next form, because we don’t love waiting in the printing plant (no offense to the very comfortable customer lounge and its excellent selection of snack foods and reading material). We usually hang out in the Cedar Rapids area or go down to Iowa City. I end up drinking a lot of coffee, and it seems like we always eat too much ice cream. This year I came up with a few new things for us to do.

Based on my recent visit to Cedar Rapids (which I wrote about here), we spotted a few of the American Gothic statues featured in the Overalls All Over project. And we went to the NewBo City Market for lunch.


We also visited the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, because I wanted to see the Rodin exhibition that just opened on June 4. The exhibition, “Rodin: Portraits of a Lifetime,” is at the CRMA through Sept. 11. It features 20 selections from the collections of Iris and B. Gerald Cantor, including portrait busts and full-length sculptures of famous authors and composers and other “19th century luminaries.”


I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Rodin Museum in Paris twice, and I absolutely love the sculpture garden. I could just lose myself in there. I also loved the museum itself. My husband, Dave, and I also visited a Rodin museum in Philadelphia recently. I’ll admit, this CRMA exhibit kind of pales in comparison because the scope is just so much smaller. But I enjoyed it, and I especially liked the photographs of Rodin himself.


It was an exhibition that I wasn’t even expecting that really wowed me, though. “Diego Lasansky: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” is incredible. Lasansky is the 21-year-old grandson of the famous printmaker Mauricio Lasansky. Both have Iowa City ties: the elder as an art faculty member and the younger as a student and recent graduate. This kid’s stuff is amazing. Take a look at this resume! He’s only 21! This CRMA show is his first solo museum exhibition.


I thought his paintings and prints were just wonderful, and I loved the little video that was running in the gallery that showed the printmaking process in his studio – which was also his grandfather’s studio.

Check out his website and the CRMA website to learn more.

After this cultural interlude, we headed east to Mount Vernon, one of my favorite small towns in Iowa, where we wandered through a few antiques shops and stopped for coffee at Fuel (101 1st St. E). I love this place.

I discovered Fuel (“art and espresso”) last summer when my friend Jim and I drove the RAGBRAI route (I wrote about my experience here). After Scott and I fueled up on coffee (pun intended) and a yummy ginger cookie we headed to another place Jim and I discovered on our RAGBRAI adventure: Sutliff Bridge and Baxa’s Tavern, just south of Lisbon.


I loved this old metal bridge (built in 1898) over the Cedar River – now for pedestrians only – when I saw it for the first time last summer. And I thought, wow, the patio of Baxa’s Tavern would be one fine place to sit and listen to music on a summer evening and watch the river flow.


It was a hot, sunny afternoon instead. Scott and I spent about an hour there before we needed to head back to the printing plant. But we enjoyed talking to the musicians who were getting warmed up for their performance that evening.



The Baxa’s Tavern menu includes things like corn nuggets, mac-n-cheese bites, tenderloins, catfish, burgers, and chicken strips. We didn’t order anything to eat (this isn’t really my kind of restaurant), so I can’t tell you how the food tastes, but we saw others eating, and it looked (and smelled) pretty good if you like fried food. I recommend this place for the location and atmosphere for sure.


You can find Baxa’s Sutliff Tavern on Facebook, where you can keep up with daily food specials, live music schedules, and pretty pictures of the bridge.



1 comment so far

  1. Suzanne on

    It isn’t reasonable or very insightful or educated to compare a small museum in the Midwest to extremely large museums elsewhere. You should be celebrating the fact that people in this community are able to see a sample of Rodin and encouraging them to do so.

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