Document 1 of 1 Finding ‘American Gothic’ in ‘Grant Wood Country’ Author: Michaelson, Mike Publication info: Daily Herald [Arlington Heights, Ill] 01 Sep 2002:

Document 1 of 1 Finding ‘American Gothic’ in ‘Grant Wood Country’ Author: Michaelson, Mike Publication info: Daily Herald [Arlington Heights, Ill] 01 Sep 2002: 3. ProQuest document link Abstract (Abstract): Apart from the “Mona Lisa,” one of the most recognizable pieces of art – as well as the most spoofed – is [Grant Wood]’s “American Gothic.” You’ll need to visit the Art Institute of Chicago to see the original of that famous painting. To enjoy the hills and valleys along the Wapsipinicon River in east central Iowa and see the pretty stone buildings that inspired Wood, head for Cedar Rapids and nearby Stone City and Anamosa, popularly known as “Grant Wood Country.” At the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in Cedar Rapids, you can view the world’s largest collection of paintings by Grant Wood (sans “American Gothic,” of course) and other important American artists (including Wood’s longtime painter friend Marvin Cone). It includes in its permanent collection more than 500 works by these two seminal Midwestern artists. In Cedar Rapids, also spend time soaking up Czech heritage at Czech Village, site of ethnic restaurants, a bakery, gift shops and a large ethnic museum. With one resident in five of Czech descent, Cedar Rapids celebrates this heritage at the National Czech &Slovak Museum. An exhibition, “Homelands: The Story of the Czech and Slovak People,” features exceptional examples of hand-crafted folk art, glass and ceramics, as well as prints, rare maps, military objects and even a classic 1935 Jawa motorcycle and an antique printing press. “Costume Square” showcases an internationally recognized collection of Bohemian, Moravian and Slovak folk costumes. With brilliant colors, flourishes of gold thread and intricate lace work, they illustrate the vibrant spirit of the Czech and Slovak people. The museum store sells glassware, ceramics, jewelry, books and beautifully decorated eggs. Links: Check for Full Text Full text: Apart from the “Mona Lisa,” one of the most recognizable pieces of art – as well as the most spoofed – is Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” You’ll need to visit the Art Institute of Chicago to see the original of that famous painting. To enjoy the hills and valleys along the Wapsipinicon River in east central Iowa and see the pretty stone buildings that inspired Wood, head for Cedar Rapids and nearby Stone City and Anamosa, popularly known as “Grant Wood Country.” In this picturesque region, you’ll see many of the handsome stone buildings built from locally quarried limestone that caught the eye of Wood and were captured by his brush. You’ll discover many of the historic landmarks used in his paintings and the site he chose for his art colony in 1932-33, where students bunked down in retired horse-drawn wagons donated by an ice company. At the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in Cedar Rapids, you can view the world’s largest collection of paintings by Grant Wood (sans “American Gothic,” of course) and other important American artists (including Wood’s longtime painter friend Marvin Cone). It includes in its permanent collection more than 500 works by these two seminal Midwestern artists. Grant DeVolson Wood was born in 1891 on a farm near Anamosa, about 30 miles east of Cedar Rapids, where he spent his first 10 years. When his father, a stern man of Quaker stock, died in 1901, Grant moved with his widowed mother to Cedar Rapids. There he graduated from high school and later taught in the public schools. Wood studied at the Minneapolis School of Design and Handicraft and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During his “Bohemian period” Wood lived in Paris, flirting with impressionism and even painting “en plein air”

 

 

(outdoors) as Monet advocated. Detail-oriented Wood never was really comfortable with it. During this period he nonetheless adopted many new ideas for showing off Iowa’s furrowed hills and whistling windmills as well as his hometown neighbors and even the deepening creases in his mother’s face. It was after a trip to Munich in 1928 that Wood began to emphasize “Regionalism,” a belief that artists should paint from their home communities based on personal experience and local heritage. This tenet underlies his frequent portrayal of the character type that he felt epitomized the Midwesterner, with the direct, humorless gaze to show determination. “I had to go to France to appreciate Iowa,” Wood observed. Of his wanderings, he also said, tongue in cheek perhaps, “All the really good ideas I’d ever had came to me while I was milking a cow. So I went back to Iowa.” In 1930 Grant Wood exploded onto the American art scene when he won the $300 prize in an annual show at the Art Institute of Chicago. His work, “American Gothic,” portrays a strait-laced Iowa farmer and daughter painted against the backdrop of a little house with a pointed, Gothic-style window. He had happened upon the distinctive building and sketched it on the back of an envelope. Later, he used it in his famous masterpiece, posing his dentist, Dr. McKeeby, and his sister, Nan. In Chicago, wildly enthusiastic crowds flocked to the masterwork, as did art lovers in London, where the painting caused a sensation. Head for the Grant Wood Art Gallery on Main Street in Anamosa (population 5,400) for a wide range of prints, posters, lithographs, note cards and other Grant Wood items, as well as the opportunity to snap the obligatory photograph, posing your subjects as the stern- faced duo of “American Gothic.” You’ll also learn the extent to which the iconic couple has become household figures. Find them in TV commercials and cereal ads, on billboards and neckties. Wood’s dour-faced subjects have been spoofed in a beer ad, in a comic strip, as Hawaii vacationers and in weed-control advertising. This quintessential image of Midwestern fortitude has even appeared on a postage stamp issued by the United Arab Emirates. Wood himself was the image of rural America, who preferred to wear overalls when he worked in his studio and when he taught high school. Wood also had a finely tuned – though sometimes macabre – sense of humor. He once bought an old car and outfitted it with a carved human hand to serve as its left-hand turn signal. On another occasion, he placed gigantic footsteps of a “swamp monster” as steppingstones from a creek to his cottage. His studio at No. 5 Turner Alley still exists in Cedar Rapids. It was the carriage house of the funeral home of an important patron, David Turner, and was offered to Wood rent free. He fixed it up by carving and painting floor tiles, by covering radiators with metal grills painted with flowers, and even making the covers of the fuse box to look like embossed leather. In Cedar Rapids, also spend time soaking up Czech heritage at Czech Village, site of ethnic restaurants, a bakery, gift shops and a large ethnic museum. With one resident in five of Czech descent, Cedar Rapids celebrates this heritage at the National Czech &Slovak Museum. An exhibition, “Homelands: The Story of the Czech and Slovak People,” features exceptional examples of hand-crafted folk art, glass and ceramics, as well as prints, rare maps, military objects and even a classic 1935 Jawa motorcycle and an antique printing press. “Costume Square” showcases an internationally recognized collection of Bohemian, Moravian and Slovak folk costumes. With brilliant colors, flourishes of gold thread and intricate lace work, they illustrate the vibrant spirit of the Czech and Slovak people. The museum store sells glassware, ceramics, jewelry, books and beautifully decorated eggs. In the heart of Cedar Rapid’s Czech Village, Zindrick’s Czech Restaurant, with its light oak paneling and lace curtains, is decorated with antiques, paintings and prints from the old country as well as collections of Czech pottery and crystal. It provides authentic Czech food as well as a good selection of Czech beers and wines. It’s a busy spot on Sundays when ample, jovial proprietor Al Zindrick is busy slicing roasts and making waffles as he presides over a rib-sticking brunch buffet that includes many of the restaurant’s specialties. The dinner menu offers cabbage rolls, mushroom tarts and liver dumpling soup as starters, along with pierogis

 

 

(dumplings stuffed with various meats and cheeses). Entrees include roast pork loin rubbed with garlic and caraway, goulash with a rich gravy, and Hungarian paprika, chicken paprika, roast duck and liver sausage served with grilled onions. Czech-style dinners come with a choice of potato or bread dumplings, sauerkraut or sweet-and-sour cabbage, home-style applesauce and rye bread. Dessert trays are laden with homemade pies, pastries and cakes. – Mike Michaelson is a travel writer based in Chicago and the author of the guidebook “Chicago’s Best-Kept Secrets.” If you go Information: Cedar Rapids Area Convention &Visitors Bureau, (800) 735-5557, www.cedar-rapids.com; Anamosa Chamber of Commerce, (319) 462-4879; Iowa Tourism Office, (888) 472-6035, www.traveliowa.com. Mileage: Cedar Rapids is about 245 miles west of Chicago. Upcoming event: Annual Pumpkinfest, with aspirations to feature a world-record 1,500-pound pumpkin, includes a chili cook-off, games for kids, a parade and a classic car show, Anamosa, first weekend in October. Illustration Caption: Some folks can’t resist hamming it up in front of the little house Grant Wood used as his background in his masterpiece, “American Gothic.” Mike Michaelson/Special to the Daily Herald The countryside is full of handsome stone buildings, such as St. Joseph’s Church, that inspired artist Grant Wood. Mike Michaelson/ Special to the Daily Herald Company / organization: Name: Art Institute of Chicago; NAICS: 712110 Publication title: Daily Herald Pages: 3 Number of pages: 0 Publication year: 2002 Publication date: Sep 1, 2002 Year: 2002 Column: Midwest Travel Section: GOING PLACES Publisher: Daily Herald Place of publication: Arlington Heights, Ill. Country of publication: United States Publication subject: General Interest Periodicals–United States Source type: Newspapers Language of publication: English Document type: NEWSPAPER ProQuest document ID: 312669256 Document URL: http://search.proquest.com/docview/312669256?accountid=27313 Copyright: Copyright Paddock Publications Sep 1, 2002 Last updated: 2010-06-18

 

 

Database: ProQuest Central

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