Thursday, September 30, 2010

On the web this week: A steady stream of visitors and their positive comments!

Fall tourism is picking up where summer’s travelers left off! Early this week the Center hosted 45 men and women from Monsanto Company out of St. Louis, Missouri. One traveler on the bus had previously visited the Center and suggested an impromptu stop as the group toured nearby fields. Many questions were asked and answered, and most members of the group posed for their own parody photo in front of the house.

The October schedule is filling quickly with tours from Iowa State University, car clubs, Red Hat Ladies, and other social groups. The American Gothic House Center was represented in a booth at the Travel Iowa Marketplace in Des Moines yesterday. Hopefully the event will lead to tour bookings for the coming year!

Delighted visitors write about their experience at the American Gothic House Center

I am fairly new to the Twitter world, and recently downloaded an application called TweetDeck. The application gives instant notices anytime someone mentions American Gothic in a message they send out (a tweet). I watch with pleasure as visitors I met only days (or sometimes just moments) ago post photos and short messages about their visit to the Center.

This blogger seems to be biking across the country with a cycle group. She shared what she learned about American Gothic while at the Center and posted photos taken during her visit.

Post about the blogger’s visit

Map of the cycle group’s travels

More on Upcoming R. Tripp Evans Lecture

Last week’s update noted the approaching lecture by R. Tripp Evans on his book, Grant Wood, A Life. Interested in learning more about the content of this book, I found a review done by Lambda Literary. Read what critic James Polchin has to say about the new book, which will be released in October. Evans speaks at the Eldon Library Hall on November 10 at 7 pm. Hope to see you there!

Book Review

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On the web this week: Fall Events

I looked out my office window this morning to see five large vans pull into the parking lot, and tourists in matching attire began to pour out. Eighteen members of the Hawkeye Kountry Travelers are currently camping in Ottumwa and decided to make a morning jaunt to the Gothic House. They enjoyed the video and gallery, and then posed for photos in front of the house. The energy of that group was a great way to start the day!

I’m now about seven weeks into my work at the American Gothic House Center. Visitors sometimes wonder what I spend my days doing or imply that it might be lonely to be a ‘one woman show.’ In fact, it’s just the opposite! As proven by this morning, there’s always something happening at the Center. Here’s a schedule of events for the next two months.

September 25, 5-6:30pm: Volunteer Potluck

The volunteer contribution at the American Gothic House Center is immense. Our core of about thirty volunteers donated almost 200 hours of their time in August alone. So far in 2010, volunteers have helped at the Center for over 1,100 hours. Last week a volunteer offered to power wash the sidewalk and porch, another replanted a tree in the yard, and a third greeted visitors and managed the gift shop all afternoon so I could make phone calls and focus on office tasks. The Center will be thanking volunteers at a potluck dinner this Saturday, September 25 at 5 pm. If you would like to attend in support of the volunteers and all they do for the community, please bring a dish to share and tableware.

October 30, 2-3pm: Kids Gothic Halloween Party

Parents and children, join us this fall for a children’s Halloween party at the house that inspired artist Grant Wood. A spooky scavenger hunt for kids will lead to Halloween treats! Arrive in costume and make your own Gothic Halloween parody in front of the American Gothic House! Parents can bring cameras or purchase photos printed from the Center’s camera.

November 10, 7pm: Tripp Evans Grant Wood Lecture

R. Tripp Evans will be releasing his biography titled Grant Wood, A Life on October 5. Evans is touring the country from September through December and will be in Iowa during the month of November. Join us at the Eldon Library Hall on November 10 to meet the author and listen to him speak about his book. Copies of Grant Wood, A Life can be ordered through the Center for a special discounted price until October first.

Grand Wood, A Life

Wapello County Conservation Board: Fall Events Our friends at the Conservation Board have a great lineup of fall activities for those of you who enjoy the outdoors. Events include fly tying club, two Halloween hikes featuring bloodsuckers and parasites, and Run for the Ridge, a 5k run/walk.

See full calendar

Blog Update: A few weeks ago I posted a link to a blog written by a mother traveling with her children through Iowa. Her son remarked that the scenery looked just like a Grant Wood painting, and recently she posted photos comparing the scenery with paintings by Grant Wood.

Check it out!

Here's a link to the original post.

And finally, on a more personal note, minnemom’s most recent post is about a town I passed through many times during my childhood. I couldn’t resist mentioning the big pink elephant!

McGregor, IA

Thanks for reading. Hope you have a splendid weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On the web this week: An Assortment of Information

It’s Thursday again, and time for another American Gothic House Center update. This one contains an assortment of information that has come up this week.

The asters are still blooming ferociously, the weeds are still fiercely growing (though I am just as fiercely fighting back—finally brought down those pesky invasive sunflowers and managed, using all my strength, to remove the giant flat grasses taking over the beds lining the sidewalk), and last week I discovered a brilliant pink hibiscus blooming among our native prairie flowers! I regularly post garden photos on our facebook page, so if you’re interested see the link below and become a fan of our page!

AGHC On Facebook

November 13: Herberger’s Community Day

You can help raise money for the American Gothic House Center, and add a little to your own wallet as well! Purchase a coupon booklet for $5 from the American Gothic House Center and receive a $10 coupon as well as several 20% discount coupons to be used at Herberger’s in Ottumwa on Saturday, November 13. All booklet sales go directly to the Center.

If you would like to help sell coupon booklets on November 13 at Herberger's or before (sales can begin any time), please call and I’ll get you a set of booklets.

American Gothic Experiences the Effects of Technology

One part of my job is to edit current and create new promotional materials for the Center. Lucky for me, the Center’s previous administrator applied for a grant from the Wapello County Foundation and received funds for the purchase of the Adobe Creative Suite. So I, like today’s featured blogger, am learning to use professional software for designing signage and brochures, updating the website, and editing photos.

At the Center we have an extensive collection of parodies, many of which have been computer generated using programs like Adobe Photoshop. Bill and Hillary Clinton are a favorite, their faces collaged overtop Nan and the dentists’ realistically enough to make visitors wonder if the Clintons stopped in Eldon. Giving the Gothic couple new faces is a popular parody, and so is giving them new clothing and accessories. With the help of Photoshop backgrounds they have travelled to Hollywood, taken a ride on a subway, and as you’ll see in Daisy’s blog, they have even attended rock concerts.

Just for fun, here’s a set of parodies created in Adobe Photoshop by a blogger named Daisy.

Rent the American Gothic House Center for your next party, meeting, or any occasion! The scenic gardens create the perfect setting for outdoor events on the lawn, porch or patio. Please call or email me if you would like details on rental possibilities at the American Gothic House Center.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On the web this week: American Gothic House Becomes a Home

American Gothic House Becomes a Home

The last few days at the American Gothic House Center have been full ones. We had a fantastic holiday weekend, hosting over 300 visitors! The weather has been superb as we shift into autumn; bringing more travelers and allowing me to enjoy working in the flower beds. Yesterday brought us Beth Howard, an Ottumwa native returning to southeast Iowa to take advantage of a rare opportunity.

The American Gothic House has been empty since 2008, when the last tenant moved on. Built in 1881, the house was first owned by Charles and Catherine Dibble in 1887. Ten years later, the house was purchased by E.P. Forest Howard, who used the front room as a candy and novelty store. From May 1917 to September 1933 Gideon and Mary Jones occupied the house, during which time Grant Wood visited Eldon.

More information about the house

Fast forward a few decades to 1991, when Carl E. Smith donated the house to the State Historical Society of Iowa. Since then, the house has been rented by various local people including postmasters, a school teacher, and now by writer and pie baker Beth Howard.

“I can’t wait any longer! I’m so excited to get there,” Beth wrote to me Tuesday. She arrived yesterday afternoon, smiling and excited to start a new adventure in Eldon as the tenant in the American Gothic House.

I’ll let Beth do the rest of the talking. Following is a link to her blog entry about her visit to the American Gothic House Center just two short weeks ago. She includes photos of Eldon, her own American Gothic Parody (as well as one by her two dogs), and a peek inside the house.

Get to know the new American Gothic House tenant

Check out her website as well, especially if you (like me) have a thing for pie.

The World Needs More Pie

Welcome, Beth!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Scenic Iowa and a Generous Donation

Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.

Iowans have an abundance of opportunities to appreciate the simple things in life. We are fortunate, most of the time, not to have to worry about hazardous air alerts or stressful commutes. We can enjoy the scenery free from distraction. And what worthy scenery it is! City dwellers escape from their towering concrete surroundings to take a deep breath in the land of Grant Wood, who has shown the world the beauty of the Midwest.

I once had a discussion with Florida high school students, who couldn’t seem to remember the difference between Iowa, Idaho, and Ohio. “Iowa? Is that the potato state?” They viewed Iowa as a state you fly over rather than as a destination. Fortunately, many do realize the value of our state. The refreshing blog entry featured in today’s e-news focuses on a child’s appreciation of an Iowa road trip, with some especially insightful comments about the artistic significance of our landscape.

Blogger appreciates Iowa, the land of Grant Wood

Autumn Approaches: Leaves, Sweaters and Homecoming

Another takeoff on Wood’s most famous painting has come home to Eldon. If you’ve been to the American Gothic House Center in the past month, you’ve definitely noticed a new addition to our collection. Standing about six feet tall and over five feet wide, a replica of the famed house with a projecting porch was created by an artist in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Originally purposed as the set of an Independence Day parade float, the replica may be displayed as part of a float in the local homecoming parade later this month.

Albert Lea donates American Gothic house replica