Thursday, March 24, 2011

Exhibit Opening!

Good morning! I’m happy to report last Saturday’s spring sale and art & poetry exhibition inside the American Gothic House carried our visitor count over 100 for the day. That is our highest daily attendance so far this year--a great jump start to the new season!

Our next event is the opening of this year’s exhibit, Nan Wood Graham: Beyond the Farmer’s Daughter. The exhibition brings deserved focus to the life of American Gothic’s female model, Grant Wood’s sister and fellow artist Nan Wood Graham. The new display features an interactive audio component and Nan Wood Graham’s only original oil painting, on loan from the State Historical Society of Iowa.

Nan was a loyal advocate for her brother Grant, protecting his public image after his death by screening his would-be biographers, attending art openings in his honor, and keeping a watchful eye on the multitude of American Gothic parodies. She eventually wrote and published a biography of her brother titled My Brother, Grant Wood. Nan’s insights into the childhood and artistic process of Iowa’s beloved artist provide a unique look at the artist—closer than we can normally come when studying art history.

Though Nan Wood Graham is most well-known for her role in American Gothic , she led a full and exciting life of her own. Nan’s aunt once told her, “One artist in the family is enough.” Nan did not pursue a career as an artist, but continued to study art and practice creative hobbies. While recovering from tuberculosis in Oakdale Sanitarium, Nan learned leather tooling and later won prizes for her talents. Grant even invited her to teach at his artist colony in Stone City. Nan mastered the difficult technique of reverse painting on glass, and her glass paintings were exhibited in New York. She made one oil painting, Boarding House Bath. The painting was likely inspired by the astounding characters Nan and her husband Ed lived with in various rooming houses around California.

Nan’s personality and delightful sense of humor shine brilliantly in an audio interview from the 1970s. Clips of this interview are available at the touch of a button in new exhibit. While reading through exhibit text, visitors will find reference to audio clips where they can listen to Nan tell more about the topic.

Nan Wood Graham visited Eldon on several occasions and was an honored guest at the city’s annual Gothic Days celebration. Many locals met Nan during her lifetime, exchanged letters and gifts, and have photographs of her in their personal albums. A few of these items, as well as correspondence with Nan, will be on display.

I invite you to join us for the premier of this interactive new exhibit! Enjoy refreshments and conversation with other Wood enthusiasts at the opening on Friday, April 1 from 6-7 pm. Hope to see you there!

Molly Moser
American Gothic House Center

Don’t forget to sign up for the American Gothic House Center’s annual bus trip to discover Grant Wood country! You can view a detailed itinerary of the trip on our website. The itinerary has links to all the collections we’ll be visiting. Call me at 641.652.3352, or respond to this email to e collections we’ll be visiting. Call me at 641.652.3352, or respond to this email to reserve your seat!

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.

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