Thursday, October 7, 2010

On the web this week: ISU and Book Reviews

This week the American Gothic House Center hosted a bus tour of women from Iowa State University. The fifty well dressed ladies arrived bright and early and full of curiosity about the Center, the house, and the city of Eldon. The ISU Women's Club began many years ago as wives of faculty members meeting during the day. It has evolved to include female faculty and now incorporates a yearly bus tour. The group watched a video, Grant Wood’s America, in the media room, toured the gallery, enjoyed the gift shop, and took photos in costume. Beth Howard, tenant at the Gothic House, even allowed the inquisitive bunch to tour her home!

I have already referenced it multiple times, and this book just keeps coming to my attention. Grant Wood: A Life, by R. Tripp Evans, was released this Tuesday and has been reviewed by the New York Times and many more. Following are excerpts from several reviews paired with links to full articles. Evans is scheduled to speak in Ottumwa on November 9 and in Eldon on November 10 at 7 pm in the Eldon Library Hall.

“I hope people come to realize that Grant Wood was everything they think he was, but he was a whole lot more,” says Evans. “People look at his paintings and they see common people living simple lives, but many of those paintings have this power to unnerve us and we can’t put our finger on why. That shows what a talented artist he was.” --University of Iowa FYI, Tom Snee

“Wood clearly loved to hide things in plain sight. He also loved to create images that, like “American Gothic,” ensure that “the viewer doesn’t know whether to giggle or shiver.” Mr. Evans offers intensive analysis of “American Gothic” as well as many other Wood paintings, most notably “Parson Weems’ Fable” (1939), which rivals “American Gothic” for tacit but turbulent complexity and is so surpassingly strange and dreamlike that it is “a kind of Rosetta Stone to Wood’s inner conflicts.” --Review by NY Times reporter Janet Maslin

“No doubt there will be readers, whatever their motives, who see Grant Wood: A Life as a slander against the self-described “simple Middle Western farmer-painter” and his wholesome paintings. But Evans has done Wood a great service in saving him and his work from the one-dimensionality to which they have largely been consigned. He has rendered the artist and the art in all their ambivalence, disquiet, mischief, deceptiveness, and anguish. This is a deeply respectful and compassionate biography.” --Stephen Biel’s Review --Biel is the author of American Gothic: A Life of America’s Most Famous Painting (2005).

“Even today, the story of Wood’s sudden rise from obscurity to fame remains without precedent. No other American artist has ever achieved such sudden and lasting national fame from a small-town base, without ever showing his work in New York, and without even having an art dealer." --Henry Adams for Art and Antiques Magazine

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