Where to Find Adorable Dairy Cow Art in Iowa

steel cows of Iowa

Valerie with her friend Sharon, who likes to sing and write songs.

I write a lot about Iowa because 1) there are a lot of interesting stories in Iowa, and 2) there are a lot of interesting people there. I know, I married one.

But one of the most interesting characters I’ve met is a girl named Kelly. She’s a belly dancer and likes to eat ice cream cakes. Another sweetheart I met loves bowling and sunflowers. Her name is Irene. I brought Irene home with me.

They are both girlfriends of Valerie Miller, a creative young mother who has found her passion in painting cows – real cows found in the farm country of northeast Iowa. Yes, Kelly and Irene are both cows. Got a problem with that?

Love Those Cows

steel cows of iowa

Visitors to the Homestead Dairy are greeted with a 12′ X 12′ mural of Anna, who likes country boys and pick-up trucks.

An artist at an early age, Valerie grew up in Iowa, although not on a dairy farm. (Not everyone in Iowa lives on a farm, you know). However, her uncles, Tom and Paul Weighner, have a dairy farm and are principles in Homestead Dairy in Waukon, Iowa. They make some great cheese, milk and ice cream. And they are among Valerie’s biggest fans.

Valerie’s passion for cows solidified during a trip to Glarus Switzerland where “they treat cows like the goddesses they are,” says Val.

She spends a lot of time in cow pastures photographing cows and finding inspiration for her work. Cows are naturally curious creatures and often approach her, therefore showcasing the personalities that Val works into her art.

As she names each portrait, she creates adorable personality traits for the girls sometimes based on real people she knows. The only cow portrayed with her broad backside on display is Arlene, named for Valerie’s grandma Arlene. Not everyone takes it as a compliment to have a cow named for them.

The Cow Collection

steel cows

Dorothy is the name of this girl at the Culver’s in Decorah. Dorothy likes to fly kites on a windy day and has a passion for red high heeled shoes.

There are now more than 50 “girls” in Valerie’s collection, which is beginning to include chickens and pigs. More than a dozen murals brighten buildings around Waukon and Decorah Iowa.

But you don’t have to have a building-sized mural to enjoy Valerie’s girls. They are available in prints as small as 6″ X 6″  as well as coffee cups, calendars, pillows and Christmas ornaments via her website, steelcow.com or at many of the shops in and around northeast Iowa.

But the best way to enjoy the whimsy of these fanciful girls is to take a road trip to Iowa and see them for yourself. It’s something a mojotraveler would do.

cow art

Jackie loves the mountains in summer, but spends most of her days hanging out at Pinter’s Gardens in Decorah.

cow murals

Tippie hangs out in the children’s reading section of the Waukon Library when she’s not tailgating at football games.

One thought on “Where to Find Adorable Dairy Cow Art in Iowa

  1. Sandy

    I always liked cows, but my parents wouldn’t let me too attached to them for fear I would be heartbroken when they went to slaughter.

    A lovely blog, Diana! I liked the way the painter gave the cows personalities.

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