Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gothic Days Art Contest and 5K Results

Eldon—The atmosphere of Gothic Days 2008 was a bit different this year as many people still didn’t know what to expect from the rising water levels. Visitors, children and months of planning, however, would not be deterred.

The American Gothic House Art Contest, co-sponsored by Gothic Area Tourism of Eldon (G.A.T.E.) and the American Gothic House Center (AGHC), was judged Friday evening, June 13 by Cindy Woodbury, Chris Abigt and Laura Frana. Despite limited entries, it was a tough contest to judge with two entries just one point (out of 150) apart.

Congratulations go out to Aundera Tubb of Ottumwa, Iowa, winner of the sixth through eighth grade division, Bethany Hemm of Granby, Colorado, winner of the ninth through twelfth grade division, and Margit Trautmann of Ottumwa, Iowa, winner of the adult division. Most of the entries will remain on display at the AGHC through the end of the month, where they will then be on display at the July 4th Fairfield First Friday Art Walk before being returned to the artists.

Early Saturday morning, June 14, 20 running and walking enthusiasts came out to participate in the first annual American Gothic 5K event. The group started at the AGHC, and then wound through the town of Eldon before trekking back up the hill to the finish line. Chad Damin of Freeport, Iowa won the overall first place men’s trophy and Michelle Albert of Eldon, Iowa won the overall first place women’s trophy.

The weekend concluded Sunday morning, June 15, with 13 biking enthusiasts riding down Highway 16 to Douds and back for a total of 21 miles. It was a beautiful morning with the sun shinning, moderate temperatures and a friendly breeze.

Thank you to the many individuals who helped plan and participated in these events.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tom Milligan as Grant Wood: Prairie Rebel

Eldon—The American Gothic House Center received funding from Humanities Iowa, a private, non-profit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to host a free presentation called Grant Wood: Prairie Rebel by Tom Milligan at 2:00 pm on Sunday, June 22 at the American Gothic House Center. A cultural resource for Iowans since 1971, Humanities Iowa offers many cultural and historical programs and grants to Iowa’s communities.

In this 45 minute, one-man show, Grant Wood chats with the audience as if he were talking to an old friend across a backyard fence or in his home at Five Turner Alley in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He talks with the audience about his life and how he changed the art world forever with his work. It is the man behind that we see and hear in this prize-winning play and the story of how he took the moments, the memories, and the people of the plains and the prairies, and showed the whole world the special ness that is the Midwest.

Grant Wood: Prairie Rebel brings to life Iowa artist Grant Wood, the creator of one of the two most recognized paintings in the world, today, American Gothic. Growing up in rural Iowa, far away from the professional art scene, Woods' love for painting was created and nurtured by the people and things around him. In defiance of what he was told an artist should be by the New York critics, Wood faced down years of poverty and rejection to stay his own personal course. Ultimately, his was the triumph, with both the international success of his painting and the emergence of the Regionalist Movement, the style that he pioneered and that still influences artists to this day.

In Grant Wood: Prairie Rebel, the audience experiences Wood's struggles first hand, and witnesses as well, the inner spirit of the artists that refused to be crushed by either outside world, or the inner demons that arrived with success. Finally, and ultimately, the audience realizes with Wood, that the most meaningful events of our lives happen not in the big arena, but in the small and simple experiences and traditions of every day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Eldon—THIS AMERICAN GOTHIC is a quirky portrait of Eldon, Iowa, population 998, and site of the house that inspired one of the most famous paintings in the world. The Eldon premiere of this documentary will be this Saturday, June 14 at 1:30 pm at the Living Hope Bible Church.

The film follows a group of local women as they work towards their dream of a Gothic House Visitors Center to attract tourists and save their struggling community. The ongoing fascination with the painting "American Gothic" suggests a hunger for stories from rural America that THIS AMERICAN GOTHIC both taps into and exposes. What do these stories and images from the heartland symbolize? Why are they still so powerful, even in parody or myth? THIS AMERICAN GOTHIC explores the poignant irony of a rural America abandoned to economic hardship trying to rebuild itself through tourism that glorifies a happier, if largely imaginary, country past.

THIS AMERICAN GOTHIC uses interviews, direct cinema, animation, parodies and moving image portraiture to explore the complex, ambivalent nature of Grant Wood's famous painting, and to meditate upon observation, self-presentation and representation in painting, photography, history, and the documentary impulse itself.

Produced, directed & edited by Sasha Waters Freyer, Director of Photography by Meghan Sims and featuring Priscilla Coffman, Linda Durflinger, Donna Jeffrey, Brenda Kremer and Steve Siegel.

Eldon Gothic Days to offer new events

"ELDON — After 37 years of Eldon Gothic Days, can the townspeople come up with anything new for the 38th one?

If you said no, you don’t know the tribe in Wapello County’s southeast corner."