The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

The art of Saints Rest

Saints Rest owner Sam Cox displays local artwork on the shop’s walls. Photo by Elena Coppell.

At Saints Rest, specialty drinks are not the most expensive item on the menu. Grinnell’s local coffee shop also sells the art hanging on its walls, pieces that come from the talented artists of Grinnell and beyond, but often go unnoticed. Sam Cox, the owner of Saint’s Rest, has found a way to bring the art into the forefront of her customers’ minds. Several times a year, she rotates the location of the pieces, switching works from wall to wall.

She said, “People are creatures of habit. They’re going to sit at the same table, same couch, same chair, all the time. And if you don’t move the art, they’re only ever going to see that piece of art. And it’s so funny—when I started to move the art, people were like, ‘Is that new art?’ And I was like, ‘No. It’s been here. Forever.’”

Most of the work Cox displays is from local artists such as Ryan McGuire. McGuire is known around Grinnell for his public art installations. These include the egg on the side of Hotel Grinnell, the red balloon outside Grinnell’s City Office and the colorful letters outside Drake Library. He is also known for wearing 50 bells around his ankles at all times and for driving around town in his yellow and purple polka-dotted monster truck, which dons eyes and a mouth. At Saints Rest, McGuire’s painting of bigfoot is for sale.

Molly Osgood, whose father, Russell K. Osgood, was the twelfth president of Grinnell College, also sells her work at Saints Rest.

“She brings me some really fun, whimsical, floral paintings. She’s got some really little seascapes … she’s done fruit—just really fun colors,” Cox said. Osgood also engages with the art scene at the College. In 2017, she judged a quilt exhibition at the Grinnell College Museum of Art (formerly known as Faulconer Gallery).

While mostly local, the artists represented at Saints Rest are diverse in many other aspects. Cox displays art from an artist who has exhibited her work across many states, one who sells jewelry on Etsy and a thirteen-year-old photographer who just started her career. Cox sells giant, abstract canvases and square-foot, mixed-media collages. The art’s subjects range from flowers, to swimmers, to the inside of Saints Rest itself.

“I probably take it for granted, sadly, because I’m surrounded by it all the time,” Cox said.

Art has filled nearly all the available wall space for longer than Cox has owned the shop, imbuing the place with the energy, enthusiasm, and charm that makes Saints Rest the place to be.

Saints Rest owner Sam Cox displays local artwork on the shop’s walls. Photo by Elena Coppell.
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