Monday, April 25, 2016

See “Grant Wood: Prairie Rebel” at the McHaffey Opera House


As part of the American Gothic House Center’s Grant Wood 125th anniversary celebration, the museum is pleased to present Tom Milligan in a performance of “Grant Wood: Prairie Rebel”. The program will take place on Saturday, April 30 at 2 p.m. at the McHaffey Opera House.
In this 45-minute, one-man show, Grant Wood chats with the audience as if talking to an old friend across the backyard fence, or at his home at Five Turner Alley in Cedar Rapids. He shares the story of how he took the moments, the memories, and the people of Iowa, and showed the whole world its specialness. After the presentation, the audience is encouraged to ask questions of the actor about Grant Wood and his life.
The event is free and open to the public. Funding for this presentation is provided by Humanities Iowa, a private, non-profit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  A cultural resource for Iowans since 1971, Humanities Iowa offers many cultural and historic programs and grants to Iowa’s communities. Persons with disabilities who require special assistance to attend this event are asked to contact the American Gothic House Center in advance at 641-652-3352.

The Center will also have a special unveiling of a new permanent art piece on Monday, May 2 at 5 p.m. Overalls All Over is a project containing 24 life-sized fiberglass statues depicting the farmer and daughter from American Gothic. Iowa artists created unique designs for each statue. The Center’s piece, Through the Eyes of Grant Wood was designed by Ottumwa artist Chris Abigt and painted by her and Joshua Langgin. The statue highlights pieces from twenty other paintings and lithographs by Grant Wood to intrigue visitors to look deeper into the many accomplished works Grant Wood created during his lifetime.
A reminder this is also your last weekend to see our current exhibit, The American Scene: Prints from the 1930s and 1940s!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Celebrating Grant Wood's Legacy

The impact of Grant Wood’s work is far reaching, and this year Iowa will be celebrating 125 years of Grant Wood’s life and legacy. Across the state you will find exhibits, programs, lectures and more all in honor of Wood’s 125th anniversary.

The American Gothic House Center will host several events in 2016 to mark the occasion, beginning this week with the opening of our new exhibit, “The American Scene:  Prints from the 1930s and 1940s”, as well as our annual Grant Wood’s Birthday Soup Smorgasbord.  

“The American Scene” features a selection of prints from the 1930s and 1940s depicting a variety of rural and urban scenes from across America. The Great Depression had a significant impact on the American art community. Many artists pushed to develop art with a social context and appeal to a broad demographic. Many highly recognized artists became a part of this movement, including John Steuart Curry, Thomas Hart Benton, Isabel Bishop, and Grant Wood. The pieces featured are on loan from the Indian Hills Community College Fahrney Collection. The exhibit will be open from February 13-April 30.

Grant Wood’s Birthday Soup Smorgasbord will take place Saturday, February 13 from 11:00 am-1:00 pm at the KD Center in Eldon. You can enjoy an amazing array of soups, homemade bread and some birthday desserts. Free will donations from the event will support exhibits and educational activities at the American Gothic House Center. Come celebrate Grant Wood, have a wonderful meal, and support a worthwhile cause at the same time.

Please visit our website for a complete list of our 2016 events and be sure to check back as more events are added.



More upcoming events:

Woodblock Printmaking workshop
Saturday, March 19, 12:00-4:00 pm
Cost: Free
Pre-registration required; limited to 10 participants

Easter Egg Roll at our “White House” 
Saturday, March 26, 1:00-3:00 pm
Open to children; free admission

Humanities Iowa Speakers Bureau presents Tom Milligan
Grant Wood: Prairie Rebel
Saturday, April 30, 2:00 pm
McHaffey Opera House
Free admission

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

American Gothic House Center is ready for the holidays!

The snow from last week has melted, but holiday excitement is still in the air. This weekend is filled with holiday events for “Christmas in Eldon.” Saturday, December 5 hosts a day jam-packed with activities, including the Christmas Tree Wanderland at the McHaffey Opera House, the Rock Island Depot, Christmas Dinner, a visit from Santa, Boy Scout Soup Supper, and Gingerbread House Decorating at the American Gothic House Center.

Bring the kids by the Center on Saturday, between 12-4 pm to decorate their very own graham cracker “Gingerbread” House. Graham crackers, candy decorations and gooey frosting will be provided (while supplies last) for participants to make their sugary creations.

While shopping this holiday season please be sure to keep the American Gothic House Center gift shop in mind! The shop has many unique gifts for all ages—coloring books, candles, and calendars just to name a few. Plus, proceeds from gift shop sales support the Center’s educational programming and operations. A selection of gift shop items can also be found online at www.AmericanGothicHouse.net.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Quilt workshops and more coming up at AGHC

Summer might be winding down, but excitement is growing for the many great upcoming events at the American Gothic House Center!

FullSizeRender (5)To accompany the “American Gothic in Stitches” exhibit, the Center is hosting a pair of workshops in the fabric arts. The classes will be lead by AGHC volunteer Teresa Chickering and participants will create their own “Gothic Window” wall hanging. The children’s workshop will be held on Saturday, October 17 at 1 p.m. The class is open to children ages 9 and above and has a supply fee of $10.00.

The “grown up” quilting workshop will take place on Saturday, October 24 at 1 p.m. The class has a supply fee of $15.00. Participants are asked to bring their own sewing machine as well as black and gray thread. A dual feed foot is also recommended. Both workshops require pre-registration and each class is limited to 15 participants. 

The annual American Gothic Halloween Party will be held Saturday, October 31 from 2-4 p.m. on the grounds of the American Gothic House. The event offers free admission and is open to children in Preschool through 5th grade. Attendees will have a ghoulishly great time making crafts, playing games, and eating delicious treats. Remember to come in costume and make your own spooky American Gothic parody!

A reminder the last American Gothic House tour of the season will take place Saturday, October 10 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Also, don’t miss your chance to see “American Gothic in Stitches: Quilts Inspired By the Famous Painting” before the exhibit closes October 24th!


For more information on any of the Center’s upcoming events please contact Holly Berg at 641-652-3352 or email TheAmericanGothicHouse@gmail.com.

Monday, April 20, 2015

American Gothic in Stitches

The American Gothic House Center has many great events scheduled for the coming months, but we are most excited to announce our upcoming exhibit: American Gothic in Stitches: Quilts inspired by the famous painting. The exhibition will feature nine works by skilled quilters from around the world who have created their own masterpieces influenced by the famous painting. The quilts will be on view at the American Gothic House Center from June 1-October 18 during regular hours. 

An opening reception will take place Friday, June 5 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. As a special addition for the opening, Grant Wood’s baby quilt will be on display with thanks to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Jacqueline Falco-Smith, Registrar of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, will be present during the opening to answer questions regarding the quilt.

Admission to the exhibit is free and is sponsored by APQS-American Professional Quilting Systems and the Ottumwa Area Arts Council. For information regarding the exhibit, or any other upcoming events, please call 641-652-3352, or email TheAmericanGothicHouse@gmail.com.







Upcoming events:

Tours of the American Gothic House
April 11, May 9, June 13, July 11, August 8, September 12, and October 10 from 10:00 am-4:00 pm

Lecture series: Joni Kinsey, Professor, School of Art and Art History “Grant Wood at the University of Iowa: Community and Controversy”
Sunday, May 3, 2:00 pm at the American Gothic House

New exhibit:  American Gothic in Stitches:  Quilts inspired by the famous painting
Exhibit open June 1-October 18

“American Gothic in Stitches” Exhibit Opening
Friday, June 5, 4:30-6:30 pm

American Gothic 5K Walk/Run
Saturday, June 13, 7:30 am (Registration begins at 6:45 am)

American Gothic House Art Contest
Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14; Submissions due with entry forms by 5 pm on Tuesday, June 9

American Gothic House Quilt/Fabric Art Challenge
On display July 1-October 18; Entries due by June 26

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grant Wood always liked a good party

          It is almost time again for our Grant Wood Birthday Soup Smorgasbord! Every now and then someone asks if I think Grant Wood would like us having a party in his name. I always respond that I think so…Grant Wood always liked a good party.
          In My Brother, Grant Wood, Nan Wood Graham shares several stories about the enjoyment Wood had from gatherings of friends. She writes, “Grant constantly threw parties on the spur of the moment. He would come home with a load of steaks and buns and Brie and say, ‘Mom, a gang is coming. Put the coffee pot on.’ The conversation always was lively—about what everyone was doing and the latest plays they’d seen. I never knew of any of Grant’s parties to be a failure.”
          We’ll be sure to have the coffee pot on at our celebration Saturday, February 7 from 11:00 am-1:00 pm at the KD Center in Eldon. You can enjoy an amazing array of soups, homemade bread, and birthday desserts, made by our wonderful volunteers (who are also great cooks!). Door prizes will be awarded throughout the event. Free-will donations will support educational programs at the American Gothic House Center. Come celebrate what would be Grant Wood’s 124th birthday, have a wonderful meal, and support a great cause at the same time.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gingerbread house decorating tomorrow at AGHC

Winter has definitely come quickly to the American Gothic House this year!  Though the house is beautiful when in snows (which has happened a few times already), we think it could have waited at least a few weeks.  The one benefit of this weather is that it has definitely put us in the holiday spirit! 

Some of that holiday fun awaits tomorrow, Saturday, December 6 when we host our annual gingerbread house decorating activity.  Children of all ages are invited to this free event from 1:00-4:00 p.m.  Graham crackers, candy decorations and gooey frosting will be provided for participants to make their sugary creations. For more information please contact the American Gothic House Center at 641-652-3352 or email TheAmericanGothicHouse@gmail.com.

Though this will be our last event of 2014, we are very excited to share our 2015 Calendar of Events with you soon!  You will find more programs, workshops, and a new amazing exhibit unlike anything we have hosted before.  We hope to have a few final programs confirmed shortly and the calendar shared in the coming weeks.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The leaves are changing and a chill is in the air, which is getting us very excited once again for our American Gothic House Halloween Party! 

The festivities will take place Saturday, October 25 from 2-4 p.m. on the American Gothic House Center grounds. Children from preschool through fifth grade are invited to attend and admission is free. Participants will play Boo Bowling, make creepy crafts, decorate monster cookies, and much more. A Mad Scientist will also perform fun experiments and the Eldon Public Library will feature a Spooky Story Walk on the trail. Children are encouraged to come in costume for a fun photo-op in front of the house!



Upcoming events:

Saturday, October 25: American Gothic Halloween Party
2:00-4:00 p.m. at the American Gothic House Center
Ages: Preschool – 5th grade. Small children should be accompanied by an adult.
Free admission

Celebrate Halloween in front of the American Gothic House! Arrive dressed in your costume, make your own spooky American Gothic Parody, make fun crafts, play games and enjoy delicious treats.

Sunday, November 9: Lecture series:  “Iowa History in a Cloth Bag”  
1:00 p.m. at the American Gothic House
All ages welcome, free admission

This program explains how cloth bags and the revolutionary idea of marketing to women helped Iowans survive the Great Depression and the shortages of World War II. Flour sacks, feed sacks and seed sacks will tell the story from relief work by Herbert Hoover to clothes and quilts in the 1950’s.

Saturday, December 6: Gingerbread House Building at AGHC
1:00-4:00 p.m. at the American Gothic House Center
Open to children, free admission

Join in a great holiday tradition for the family!  Arrive early to create your own gingerbread house made out of graham crackers, frosting and candy while supplies last!




The American Gothic House Center strives to become financially independent through gift shop revenues, sponsorships, and by establishing an endowment fund. Funds raised in this campaign will become endowment funds to support the Center's annual operations. As a subscriber to the weekly newsletter, you have already shown support for the American Gothic House Center. I invite you to strengthen your role in the valuable experience we provide the community by making a contribution to our fund drive. Click here to give your tax deductible gift, or head to our website for more information. Thank you to all who have donated so far!
        Our Mission: Integrating the pieces of American Gothic
300 American Gothic St | Eldon, IA 52554 | 641-652-3352 | TheAmericanGothicHouse@gmail.com

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Celebrate Iowa Museum Week by attending the Southeast Iowa Museum Crawl

Museums across Iowa are participating in Iowa Museum Week, which runs from June 9-15.  Iowa Museum Week was created to highlight the importance of museums in Iowa.  To celebrate this event, the American Gothic House Center has teamed up with other area museums for the inaugural Southeast Iowa Museum Crawl. 

The event will take place Saturday, June 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are four museums being featured on this year’s Museum Crawl: Davis County Historical Complex (Bloomfield), Maasdam Barns (Fairfield), Pearson House (Keosauqua) and the America Gothic House Center (Eldon). As a part of this Museum Crawl, “Star Passports” will be available.  People having their “passport” punched at all four locations will be eligible to win a Southeast Iowa Museum Crawl gift basket.

Highlights at each of the locations include:
American Gothic House Center, Eldon
·        Exhibit of Grant Wood original works on loan from Indian Hills Community College
·        Art station to sketch your own version of the iconic house
·        Tour the American Gothic House Center
·        Strike a pose for your own “American Gothic photo” (costumes, pitchforks and glasses available)

Davis County Historical Complex, Bloomfield
·        Rededication of Civil War Medal of Honor at 11 a.m.
·        Activities throughout the day: spinning wheel, quilting, blacksmithing, dutch oven cooking, butter making, cream separating, and more

Maasdam Barns, Fairfield
·        Youth activities from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. – egg gathering, tug of war, hay stacking, wheelbarrow races, egg toss
·        Demonstrations – putting up hay at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., milk separating

Pearson House, Keosauqua
·        Quilting demonstrations showing technique and revealing the hidden meaning of some blocks
·        Old Time Revival Sing with performances at the top of every hour
·        Guided tours of the complex
·        School-in-Session at the one-room schoolhouse
·        Free refreshments- sorghum and molasses cookies, butter cookies, and glasses of Ginger Switchell


Whether you attend the museum crawl, or stop by your hometown favorite, we hope you take the time this week to visit and celebrate Iowa museums!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

American Gothic Days Approaching!

It is almost time again for Eldon’s annual American Gothic Days!  The Center is hosting three events in conjunction with American Gothic Days, which take place June 13-15.   

The American Gothic 5K Run/Walk will be held Saturday, June 14 at 7:30 a.m.  Early bird registration is $15 if paid by May 23, or $18 after.  Registration includes a t-shirt, map of the route, and awards for winners in different age/gender categories.  This event is sponsored by Libertyville Savings Bank and Crossroad Graphics.

The American Gothic Bike Ride 18 mile bike ride takes place Sunday, June 15 at 7:30 a.m.  Early bird registration is $15 if paid by May 23, or $18 after.  Registration for the 18-mile ride includes a t-shirt, map, and post-ride pizza.  This event is sponsored by Libertyville Savings Bank, Riverside Cyclery, and AJ’s Bicycle Shop.

Amateur and professional artists are invited to enter the American Gothic House Art Contest.  There will be cash awards for first and second place winners in each division, and registration is free.  This event sponsored by GATE.  Entries must be received by June 10 and entries will be on display at the Center during American Gothic Days.

An entire schedule of events for American Gothic Days can be found here.  For more information, or for registration forms, please call 641-652-3352 or visit www.AmericanGothicHouse.net.


The American Gothic House Center strives to become financially independent through gift shop revenues, sponsorships, and by establishing an endowment fund. Funds raised in this campaign will become endowment funds to support the Center's annual operations. As a subscriber to the weekly newsletter, you have already shown support for the American Gothic House Center. I invite you to strengthen your role in the valuable experience we provide the community by making a contribution to our fund drive. Click here to give your tax deductible gift, or head to our website for more information. Thank you to all who have donated so far!
        Our Mission: Integrating the pieces of American Gothic
300 American Gothic St | Eldon, IA 52554 | 641-652-3352 | TheAmericanGothicHouse@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A new connection to the Wood family

I recently had the privilege of talking to Debbie Beilstein, the great niece of Frank Wood, Grant Wood’s brother.  Frank served very much as a grandfather figure to Debbie and she also shared a close relationship with Nan Wood Graham as Nan resided nearby in Riverside, California.  As none of the Wood siblings had any immediate descendants, it has been a joy to speak to Debbie about her memories.  To the right is a photograph from 1960 of Debbie and Frank when she was 3 in his backyard in San Diego.

Debbie has started a Facebook page where she is sharing photographs and stories about Frank and Nan.  I welcome you to visit and follow her page to learn more:  www.facebook.com/nanwoodgrahamandfrankmwood

One of my favorite things Debbie shared with me is a recipe for cheese bread that Nan Wood Graham would bring to every family gathering.  Debbie’s family has kept the tradition alive and still makes “American Gothic cheese bread” today.  To join in the tradition, I plan to make Nan’s recipe this weekend to serve at our lecture series event on Sunday.  Be sure to join us Sunday at 2:00pm for a great presentation by Mark McWhorter on “Regionalist Art During the Great Depression” and try some of Nan’s cheese bread for yourself!

Holly Berg, Administrator
American Gothic House Center

Upcoming Events:

Friday, April 4: New exhibit:  Fruits, by Grant Wood
5:00pm-7:00pm at the American Gothic House Center
All ages welcome with free admission.
In his last few years of work, Grant Wood turned his focus to the print medium.  Fruits is an important piece of this work.  The American Gothic House Center is pleased to display this work as part of the Center’s permanent collection.  View the work and learn about the history behind this series of lithographs and its relationship to the Great Depression. The acquisition of this work made possible with funding from Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation, City of Eldon, and John Deere Ottumwa Works.

Sunday, April 6: Lecture series: “Regionalist Art During the Great Depression”
2:00pm at the Eldon Library Hall
All ages welcome with free admission.
Join us as Mark McWhorter, director of the Indian Hills Art Gallery discusses the implications the Great Depression had on the Regionalist art community.  Several works from the IHCC collection will be on display, including works by Grant Wood.

Saturday, April 19: Easter Egg Roll at our “White House”
Easter Egg Hunt at 1:00pm
1:00pm-3:00pm on the American Gothic House grounds
Open to children and free admission.
Join us for our annual Egg Roll!  A popular tradition at the White House, this event will be sure to please!  Spring themed crafts and activities to accompany the event.  Sponsored by the American Gothic House Center and GATE.

Saturday, May 3: Wildflower Pastel Class
1:00pm-2:00pm on the American Gothic House grounds
Open to children K-6 grade
$9.00 fee for supplies
Pre-registration needed, limited to 15 participants
Celebrate May Day with a stroll through the Center’s wildflower gardens!  Students will learn about of the flowers and create their own with pastel chalk.  Local artist Chris Abigt will host the class and guide the students in their creations.



The American Gothic House Center strives to become financially independent through gift shop revenues, sponsorships, and by establishing an endowment fund. Funds raised in this campaign will become endowment funds to support the Center's annual operations. As a subscriber to the weekly newsletter, you have already shown support for the American Gothic House Center. I invite you to strengthen your role in the valuable experience we provide the community by making a contribution to our fund drive. Click here to give your tax deductible gift, or head to our website for more information. Thank you to all who have donated so far!
        Our Mission: Integrating the puzzle pieces of American Gothic
300 American Gothic St | Eldon, IA 52554 | 641-652-3352 | TheAmericanGothicHouse@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Celebrate Grant Wood on February 8



The chill in the air must mean it’s almost time again for our annual Grant Wood Birthday Soup Smorgasbord.  The celebration will take place Saturday, February 8 from 11:00 am-1:00 pm at the KD Center in Eldon. You can enjoy an amazing array of soups, homemade bread, and birthday desserts.  Thank you to our wonderful volunteers who help make this event possible—their cooking is out of this world!

Door prizes will be awarded throughout the event, donated by the following businesses:  Chommy’s, Just A’little Junk’e in the Trunk, Libertyville Savings Bank, and Ostrander Flowers and Greenhouses.

Free will donations will support educational programs at the American Gothic House Center. Come celebrate what would be Grant Wood’s 123rd birthday, have a wonderful meal, and support a worthwhile cause at the same time.  Be sure to mark your calendars!

Don’t forget to take a look at all of the great events we have coming up this year at the American Gothic House Center.  Visit our website to see our Calendar of Events:   
http://www.americangothichouse.net/plan-your-visit/calendar/

Monday, November 4, 2013

All aboard for an Iowa rail adventure!

Thank you to everyone who attended our Halloween Party last weekend.  Despite the strong winds we had a wonderful turnout and the kids had a great time.  Pictures of the event can be viewed on our Facebook page here:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152007157211449.1073741829.80025816448&type=3    

It always seems as we finish one event it is on to the next!  Please join us for a special presentation by “Iowa’s Super Conductor” Rudolph Daniels on Sunday, November 10 at 1:00pm at the Eldon Library Hall.  Daniels will describe the past, present and future of the Hawkeye State’s railroads. The program will explore Iowa’s unique position in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad and Iowa’s great contribution to railroad safety.  Daniels will highlight the famous steamliners that rode Iowa’s rails.

The presentation is free and open to the public. After the presentation the Eldon Depot Museum will be open for tours.  

This event is held in partnership with the Eldon Depot Museum and funding for this presentation is provided by Humanities Iowa.  All aboard for an Iowa rail adventure!
 
 
 
 
Upcoming events:
 
November 10: Humanities Iowa Lecture by Rudolph Daniels: “Trains Across Iowa”
All ages welcome
Free admission
1:00pm at the Eldon Library Hall
 
Eldon, Iowa is known for being the home of the American Gothic House, but it also is home to the historic Eldon Depot, which boasts a rich history of railroad life. Join us as Rudolph Daniels describes the past, present and future of the Hawkeye State’s railroads. The program explores Iowa’s unique position in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad and Iowa’s great contribution to railroad safety. The talk also describes the famous steamliners that rode Iowa’s rails. All aboard for an Iowa rail adventure!
After the presentation the Eldon Depot Museum will be open for viewing.
This event held in partnership with the Eldon Depot Museum.
 
 
December 7: Gingerbread House Building
1:00-4:00pm at the American Gothic House Center
Open to children
Free admission
Join in a great holiday tradition for the family! Arrive early to create your own gingerbread house made out of graham crackers, frosting and candy while supplies last!

 

 
 
Holly Berg
Administrator
American Gothic House Center
TheAmericanGothicHouse@gmail.com

Friday, October 4, 2013

Volunteers an important "piece" of the museum

The American Gothic House Center hosted its annual Volunteer Appreciation Potluck this past Saturday.  This year’s potluck theme was “Volunteers are an important piece of our museum.”  It was a very fitting theme as the Center would not be able to operate without the help of our dedicated volunteer staff. 
Though the weather did not cooperate to have it outside, we hope everyone had an enjoyable time! As not everyone could attend, I would like to take this time to thank all of the volunteers at the Center for their hard work and dedication and we greatly appreciate your continued efforts.
 
 
 
Upcoming events:
 
October 26: Children’s Gothic Halloween Party
2:00-4:00pm at the American Gothic House Center
Ages: Preschool – 5th grade. Small children should be accompanied by an adult.
Free admission
Celebrate Halloween in front of the American Gothic House! Arrive dressed in your costume, make your own spooky American Gothic Parody, make fun crafts, play games and enjoy delicious treats.
 
November 10: Humanities Iowa Lecture by Rudolph Daniels: “Trains Across Iowa”
All ages welcome
Free admission
1:00pm at the Eldon Library Hall
Eldon, Iowa is known for being the home of the American Gothic House, but it also is home to the historic Eldon Depot, which boasts a rich history of railroad life. Join us as Rudolph Daniels describes the past, present and future of the Hawkeye State’s railroads. The program explores Iowa’s unique position in the construction of the first transcontinental railroad and Iowa’s great contribution to railroad safety. The talk also describes the famous steamliners that rode Iowa’s rails. All aboard for an Iowa rail adventure!
After the presentation the Eldon Depot Museum will be open for viewing.
This event held in partnership with the Eldon Depot Museum.
 
December 7: Gingerbread House Building
1:00-4:00pm at the American Gothic House Center
Open to children
Free admission
Join in a great holiday tradition for the family! Arrive early to create your own gingerbread house made out of graham crackers, frosting and candy while supplies last!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Learning extends past the classroom at AGHC

Museum internships provide students hands-on, in-depth educational experiences which cannot be found in the classroom.  Over the past year the American Gothic House Center has been developing an internship program to provide these opportunities to help fulfill our educational mission.  The Center was privileged to have an intern as part of our team the past few months.  Amanda Baker, a student at Central College in Pella, Iowa, spent her summer immersed in the Center’s collections of artifacts, newspaper clippings, and photographs. 


The Center was able to receive a grant from the Wapello County Foundation to purchase a laptop, software, and scanner for Amanda to use during her time here.  With their assistance we were able to teach Amanda many new aspects of museum collection care and management.  She learned the ins and outs of museum software and helped add new artifacts to our database.  She also organized our archives and scanned old letters and newspaper clippings making them more accessible to researchers and historians.  Amanda said she especially enjoyed assisting with the installation of our new exhibit “Parodies of a Portrait:  An American Icon’s Place in Pop Culture.” 


Most importantly, Amanda was able to experience the daily operations of a museum and the fascinating job of working with a diverse public.  However, one aspect she did not enjoy was being on camera--somehow she always managed to disappear every time a television crew stopped by!  Luckily, we were able to at least take a few snapshots of her working in the collection.
The Center was fortunate to have Amanda’s help this Center and are excited to have her back during her winter break.  We also plan to continue developing our internship program and are arranging to have a social media intern this fall.

Holly Berg
Administrator
American Gothic House Center
theamericangothichouse@gmail.com

Friday, July 5, 2013

AGHC says thanks to military families

We hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day.  Thank you to our volunteers who kept the doors of the American Gothic House Center open for the holiday!

The Fourth of July is a time to reflect and appreciate the great efforts of men and women who have fought, and continue to fight, for our freedom.  One small way museums such as the American Gothic House Center are saying thanks and giving back to these individuals and their families is by participating in the Blue Star Museums program.

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America including many right here in Iowa. The program runs through Labor Day, September 2, 2013.

The free admission program is available to active duty U.S. military - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps - and up to five family members.
To find out which museums are participating, visit www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums. The site includes a list of participating museums and a map to help with visit planning.    


Holly Berg
Administrator
American Gothic House Center
TheAmericanGothicHouse@gmail.com

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Center gears up for new exhibit

The drums are rolling and the tension is building in preparation for the unveiling of a new exhibit at the American Gothic House Center—“Parodies of a Portrait: An American Icon’s Place in Pop Culture.”

The exhibit will premier from 6 to 7 pm on Friday, May 24, and, of course, will remain on display indefinitely. It proves to be a compelling—and fun—look into contemporary America using American Gothic as the backdrop.

Beginning with Gordon Park’s photograph of Ella Watson, a cleaning woman employed by the Farm Security Administration in 1942, and traveling forward through time, the exhibit will showcase how the iconic image has been used to bring attention to cultural and societal issues.

Many of the parodies will be familiar, such as the 1963 Saturday Evening Post cover featuring Jed Clampett and Granny—aka Buddy Ebsen and Irene Ryan—of The Beverly Hillbillies. Some might say this parody, along with the shot in the opening credits of Green Acres of Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor (Oliver Douglas and his wife Lisa in the series), was the seminal moment for parodies of American Gothic. From that point on parody became an art form of its own.

Predictably the parodies on display in the new exhibit will feature celebrity-type characters. However, once in a while local (if not to Eldon, then to the area targeted), people will be the characters in the parody.

Such is the case with one particular parody that should hit home to many local Eldon citizens—Tom and Roseanne Arnold pictured near the site of their planned mansion in Eldon.

As anyone who remembers the story knows, this endeavor of Tom and Roseanne’s didn’t fare so well. Steven Biel, in his book, American Gothic, accurately sums up the outcome of the Arnold’s Eldon peccadillo.

“But this gothic house [Tom and Roseanne’s mansion] was never built. Roseanne and Tom split up, the cornfield was leased to a farmer, the ‘loose meat’ restaurant they had opened in Eldon didn’t survive, and the local community college took over the property.”

In case you are not aware of the story, an article in the April 21, 1997 edition of People magazine provides a good overview. To read the article click here.

Tom and Rosanne’s parody reflects all parodies of American Gothic, as it takes a topical issue and satirizes it to drive home a point. In the case of the Arnold’s their excess (the multi-million dollar mansion and their jet-setting style), was in sharp contrast to the modest ways of a small town—and of the characters in the painting. Such is the nature of parody.

This is a taste of what will be in store for visitors at the American Gothic House Center beginning next Friday. It will be worth the trip.

Also, don’t forget about the other upcoming events at the Center during Eldon’s American Gothic Days, the art contest, the 5K walk/run and the 20-mile bike ride. For details on these events click here.

One more thing:

This morning, while reviewing the National Public Radio website (and my kids say I lead a boring life), I ran across an interview and song that I wanted to share.

It is not upbeat, funny, or soul-lifting, but it is a story that any parent who has lost a child carries with them daily. It is about the aftermath. Specifically, it is the story of a soldier and his dad. If you would, take time to listen to the story and the imbedded song, but be warned, it will cause a tear to drop. In my case, it was a flood. Please click here: A Songwriter And An Army Dad Share One Touching Story.

Take care.
Brian Chambers
Media Coordinator
American Gothic House Center
641-652-3352
wapellocountymediacoordinator@gmail.com

The American Gothic House Center strives to become financially independent through gift shop revenue, sponsorships, and by establishing an endowment fund. Funds raised in this campaign will be used to match the Iowa Cultural Trust Endowment Challenge Grant and will become endowment funds to support the Center's annual operations. As a subscriber to the weekly newsletter, you have already shown support for the American Gothic House Center. I invite you to strengthen your role in the valuable experience we provide the community by making a contribution to our fund drive. Click here to give your tax deductible gift, or head to our website for more information. Thank you to all who have donated so far!
        Our Mission: Integrating the puzzle pieces of American Gothic
300 American Gothic St | Eldon, IA 52554 | 641-652-3352 | theamericangothichouse@gmail.com

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Some parallels are hard to ignore

The story of Grant Wood finding the house in American Gothic, as well as the two models, his sister Nan Wood Graham and his dentist Dr. Byron McKeeby, is well known. Especially Nan Wood Graham, as she remained an active promoter of her brother for decades. But how much is known about an equally famous portrait and a woman named Monika Pon-su-san?

I will be the first one to admit until the other day I had no idea who Monika Pon-su-san is, but, upon discovery, the parallels with Nan Wood Graham are too close to dismiss.

Pon-su-san’s story begins two decades later than Wood’s and in a much different location—Cape Town, South Africa, in 1950. Pon-su-san was working in her uncle’s launderette when she was spotted by Russian expat and artist Vladimir Tretchikoff.

Tretchikoff (who I wasn’t much aware of either prior to this research) saw something in the young lady and asked her to model for him. The result was Chinese Girl, one of the highest selling art prints in the 1950s and 60s. Don’t see the connection? Read on.

According to an article in The Huffington Post, “Vladimir Tretchikoff's iconic painting ‘Chinese Girl,’ said to be one of the most reproduced in the world, is coming home to South Africa after more than half a century in a private Chicago collection.”
In a recent interview with BBC News, Pon-Su-San recounted the story of how she came to be a model for the iconic portrait and comments on the final product.

“A lot of people ask me: ‘What is that stern look you had on your face? What were you thinking about?’"

Stern face? This is much like the review Nan Wood Graham received after American Gothic became known, as one person was said to remark, “her face would sour milk.”

Granted, the style of Tretchikoff and Wood differ greatly (Wood, to my knowledge, didn’t paint any green faces) but nonetheless both paintings have been reproduced extensively and found their way into pop culture, with Chinese Girl featured on “mugs, T-shirts, posters and wallpaper,” according to The Huffington Post.

I am not aware of any American Gothic wallpaper out there but it has been plastered on mugs and T-shirts for decades, as well as a host of other venues. Both paintings also hold the title—depending on whom is doing the talking—of the most reproduced painting in the world. In short, both are notable in the own right and are similar in popularity.

There is another parallel between the two artists and their paintings that must be mentioned. Wood, in certain circles, was never considered a serious artist. Early in his career, and for decades after his death, Wood and his work was often labeled “sentimental,” and not worthy of intellectual examination. Evidently, Tretchikoff suffered much of the same criticism, at least for Chinese Girl.

As per The Huffington Post, “’Chinese Girl’ sometimes is called the ‘Mona Lisa of kitsch,’ angering Tretchikoff who insisted he was a serious artist.”

One more parallel: Both artists, regardless of their critics, will live long in the public’s eye. So much for the art critics.

Things to remember

This Sunday, May 12, Orchestra Iowa’s will perform “American Gothic,” an original composition by three-time Grammy Award-Winner Michael Daugherty, at the Bridge View Center at 3 p.m. Admission is free.

On Friday, May 24 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the American Gothic House Center, a new exhibit, “Parodies of a Portrait: An American Icon’s Place in Pop Culture,” will premier. Stop by and check out how American Gothic has been portrayed in pop culture. Some may even surprise you!

Register and enter the American Gothic Days festivities at the American Gothic Center on June 8-9: the art contest, 5K run/walk and the 20-plus mile bike ride. Click here for more details.

Brian Chambers
Media Coordinator
American Gothic House Center
641-652-3352
wapellocountymediacoordinator@gmail.com

The American Gothic House Center strives to become financially independent through gift shop revenue, sponsorships, and by establishing an endowment fund. Funds raised in this campaign will be used to match the Iowa Cultural Trust Endowment Challenge Grant and will become endowment funds to support the Center's annual operations. As a subscriber to the weekly newsletter, you have already shown support for the American Gothic House Center. I invite you to strengthen your role in the valuable experience we provide the community by making a contribution to our fund drive. Click here to give your tax deductible gift, or head to our website for more information. Thank you to all who have donated so far!
        Our Mission: Integrating the puzzle pieces of American Gothic
300 American Gothic St | Eldon, IA 52554 | 641-652-3352 | theamericangothichouse@gmail.com