Tag Archives: Grant Wood

Grant Wood Studio, Cedar Rapids Art Museum, Newbo//Cedar Rapids; Bargain burgers at Shine and backroads drive home from Iowa City

We drove right past the Grant Wood Studio in downtown Cedar Rapids. Who knew it was tucked above a carriage house behind a former funeral home? But very glad we found it because it was really interesting. We watched a short  film about Woods’ life in and around Cedar Rapids and then walked up an outdoor staircase to a small second-floor loft above the carriage house where Grant lived with his mother (and sometimes his sister) and painted some of his most famous paintings, reproductions of which were propped up on an easel in the middle of the main room, a white-walled room with heavy wood beams and lots of natural light flooding in from big windows and a cupola.

We walked a few blocks to the Cedar Rapids Art Museum where we saw some of the paintings Wood painted in the loft – which was pretty cool. We also sawother interesting work including paintings by Wood’s friend/lesser-known artist Marvin Cone and an interesting exhibit of World War I themed paintings done by a 21st century painter.

Cedar Rapids’ indoor public market, Newbo seems to still be doing well (at least it was full of tenants and shoppers/eaters, and it proved to be a good place to pick up a quick bite t before we hit the museum/studio tour).

Dirck was craving a burger so we stopped in Iowa City at Shine’s at about 4 p.m. and found out there’s a Sunday special – until 5 p.m. We each had burgers and fries for $12.73 total. Cheapest dinner we’ve had in a very long time. Maybe ever. The weather was so pretty that we decided to take backroads home, following F52 and a few other remote roller-coaster roads south of Interstate 80. They often struck us as “RAGBRAI roads.” We sometimes lost our way but found cool things including an unusually grant Romanesque church (St. Michael’s Catholic)  in the small unincorporated town of Holbrook, circa 1867 (according to the National Historic Register plaque nearby.) Several old gravestones dated back to the 1880’s and most are  Irish settlers. More details here.

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Don’t miss the Des Moines Art Center’s “Transparencies” show of glass artwork

Jim Dingilian fills liquor bottles with smoke and then, using custom-made tools, scrapes away the soot to create astonishingly detailed scenes. “Missing Sentinels among Halted Construction” is from 2012. (McKenzie Fine Art/Special to the Register)

When I lived in, and later visited, upstate New York, I used to enjoy going to the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y. which became increasingly sophisticated in its exhibits over the years.  We got a glimpse of some cutting-edge glass artwork yesterday, near my present home, at the Des Moines Art Center.  We  thoroughly enjoyed an exhibit of work by 10 artists from around the world who do some remarkable things with glass – and I’m not even talking about Dale Chiluly here (whom some think is overexposed but I still like his work.)

Among our favorites from the show is the work (above) by Jim Dingilian (U.S.)  who somehow manages to create paintings inside of old liquor bottles – apparently filling the bottle with smoke and then somehow removing portions of the smoke stains to  create very intricate images of old cars and couches and landscapes. I still don’t quite get how he does it. Judith Schaechter, another American, does eery but gorgeous Medieval-type stained glass windows (see below) with characters that look like they walked out of a Tim Burton movie. How fun would it be to go to a church with her windows! (Don’t think that will happen anytime soon.)

There’s also (see further below) a mesmerizing  installation by Ray Hwang (from Korea) in a darkened room that almost defies easy description – but I’ll give it a go. It combines light, video and the image of a chandelier created by thousands of crystal beads upon a plexiglass panel  – to create the sensation of a chandelier that gradually lights up during   a rain storm. Okay, I didn’t do it justice. You have to see it.

Judith Schaechter creates stained glass using centuries-old techniques from medieval churches. But the stories her windows tell, as in “Mad Meg” from 2010, are the products of her own imagination. (Judith Schaechter/Special to the Register)

The DSM Register also has a good  slide show and story about the exhibit. See: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130218/LIFE/302180015/Eye-candy-Art-Center-showcases-glass-art-from-around-world

The Transparencies show was small so we spent another hour or so wandering around the rest of the museum, admiring old favorites (by Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, Anselm Kiefer, Grant Wood) and catching some new views – including an interesting installation by Ai Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist/activist, and a crazy video of a McDonald’s during a flood, slowly filling up with water (complete with poor Ronald bobbing in the waves), as well as work I’d never seen before  by Alex Katz, Cindy Sherman and others.

Although it’s difficult to photograph, Ran Hwang’s 2010 “Garden of Water” shimmers with light from a video, projected onto Plexiglas panels pinned with thousands of crystal beads. (Leila Heller Gallery/Special to the Register)

Contemporary Art & A History of Glass

February 22 — May 22, 2013
Anna K. Meredith Gallery

Above: Monir Farmanfarmaian (Iranian, born 1924)
Convertible Series, Group 10, 2011

Transparencies brings together a group of international contemporary artists whose work explores glass as both medium and as subject matter. Each creates contemporary art that connects with the history of glasswork, from luxury objects such as chandeliers and mirrors to household items like drinking vessels and light bulbs. Many forms of glass are represented, from delicate, hand-worked mirrors to industrial sheets of Plexiglas, as well as works that despite appearances, are not made of glass at all. The artists selected for Transparencies come from around the world, and vary widely in their art-making practices. Some have always worked with glass, both actually and conceptually, while others have only explored it occasionally. Combining sculpture, video, and installation with traditional forms of artisan techniques such as stained glass and blown glass, Transparencies explores the role of glass in today’s contemporary art world as well as our everyday lives.

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Grab that pitchfork for an “American Gothic” photo op in Eldon, Iowa

A long time ago, I visited the sweet little house in Eldon, Iowa that Grant Wood based his iconic “American Gothic” portrait on – but now apparently you can borrow a pitchfork, overalls and glasses when you pose in front of the house, as we all tend to do there. The house is now owned by the Iowa State Historical Society. Other Grant Wood sight-seeing options, according to Iowa Farm Bureau’s Family Living (full disclosure: my husband edits it) include:

– The Grant Wood Studio and Armstrong Visitor Center in Cedar Rapids, open for tours on weekend afternoons.

– The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art which has the world’s largest collection of Grant Wood paintings (but if you want to see “American Gothic” you’ll have to visit the Chicago Art Institute.)

– I didn’t know that Wood designed a  sun porch  at the Brucemore estate in Cedar Rapids.

– Anamosa has the Grant Wood Art Gallery and Riverside Cemetery where Grant is buried. The 40th Annual Grant Wood Art Festival will be held there on Sunday, June 10, 2012 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. (I thought it was held in Stone City, where Wood ran a summer art school in the early 1930s.)

– For more info on the Grant Wood Trail,  which includes 19 sites across Iowa, most free, see: http://www.crma.org (and click on the “Grant Wood” tab.)

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The real Grant Wood? And another way of looking at his Iowa landscapes…

There’s a new biography out about famous American (and Iowan) painter Grant Wood (R. Tripp Evans’s “Grant Wood: A Life”) and a review in the NYTimes reports it doesn’t paint the typical portrait of Grant as the “simple, homespun, rustic Iowan he may have seemed to be.” And it questions Midwest travel marketing that welcomes people to “Grant Wood Country” and Wood’s vision “of the values that made this country great!”

Instead, the book reportedly argues that Grant and his work have another side – that’s more shall we say eccentric or contrarian even sensual and sly.  Those rolling hills of Anamosa County depicted in his famous painting “Stone City?” – the author says they unmistakably refer to rounded mens’ buttocks (Grant, while married to a woman, was homosexual we’re told) and I won’t even mention what a field of sprouting cornstalks represents.  Go ahead, take a guess.

It does have me wondering more about the Grant Wood poster we have hanging over our bed that shows three dour old Daughters of the American Revolution holding tea cups. I’ve always found it amusing but now could it mean something else? See: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/04/books/04book.html?scp=1&sq=Grant%20Wood&st=cse

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