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Recognizing Grant Wood

February 23, 2016
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

It feels a lot like Spring and we're ready to road trip. Just as we were reviewing information from Iowa Tourism to recognize Iowa artist Grant Wood during this 125th year of his birth, The Iowan magazine arrived. Who was being featured??None other than Grant Wood.

Magazine article author Emery Styron posed the question:?Will Iowa's most famous and least respected artist ever get his due?

Then we read what Iowa Tourism had sent out: Who would have thought that a farm boy from Anamosa, Iowa, would grow up to create one of the most recognizable pieces of American 20th century art?

Of course, Grant Wood's painting titled American Gothic is one of the world's most recognized (and most parodied) paintings. We stopped in the small town of Eldon and posed in front of the American Gothic house from the painting. The house is maintained nicely and this year more people than ever will probably stop there.

Did you know, the models for American Gothic were Grant Wood's sister and his dentist? I learned a lot more about Grant Wood, the artist, thanks to the article by Emery Styron. Now we can think about taking a road trip to celebrate Grant Wood's 125th birthday anniversary.

Throughout 2016, Iowa will celebrate artist Grant Wood's 125th birthday with exhibits and happenings all across the state. Iowans will be celebrating the artistry of Grant Wood and how he shaped American art and how Iowa helped shape Grant Wood.

There is a lot of information online. Check out the Grant Wood Trail.

Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids: The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art possesses the world's largest collection of works by Grant Wood, with a selection always on display. Through May 15, a special exhibition titled Grant Wood and Marvin Cone: Barns, Farms, and America's Heartland focuses on their shared interest in Iowa's rolling countryside, farms and the people who inhabit them. The two artists began their lifelong friendship in Cedar Rapids, attended high school together and were an active force in the Stone City Art Colony.

Figge Art Museum, Davenport: The museum's Grant Wood acquisition has been described as ".a generous slice of his life" that showcases not only artwork but also his personal correspondence and effects. The archive includes Wood's familiar wire-rimmed glasses, his easel and painting tools, as well as the iconic cameo broach that appears in the portrait of his mother, Woman with Plants, 1929, and in his most famous painting, American Gothic, 1930.

American Gothic House Center, Eldon: Visit the house that inspired Grant Wood to paint American Gothic. The adjacent American Gothic House Center showcases the artist's life and the history of the house. Props on hand encourage visitors to pose in front of the historic American Gothic House and create their own unique American Gothic portrait.

Grant Wood Scenic Byway: Cruise through a Grant Wood painting when you drive the 75-mile stretch from Stone City to the Mississippi River. You'll soak in the same scenery now immortalized by the Iowa artist. Along the journey you can visit Wood's childhood school and the community that hosted the famed Stone City Art Colony. Peruse work by present day artists at the Maquoketa and Bellevue art galleries.

Overalls All Over, Cedar Rapids: Approximately 30 life-sized fiberglass statues depicting the farmer and daughter from American Gothic will be on display in and around Cedar Rapids from May 1 through September 4. Local artists will create unique designs for each statue.

That's quite an agenda. Happy Birthday, Grant Wood!



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