Thursday, April 19, 2012

Grant Wood Symposium Recap

Grant Wood Symposium Recap

My head is still reeling with all of the new Grant Wood information I learned Saturday at the Grant Wood Symposium! Several scholars gave presentations Saturday morning on an array of Grant Wood-themed subjects. I could go on and on for pages about all of the presentations, but I’ll try to keep it down to just the highlights!

Shirley Reece-Hughes of the Amon Carter Museum (who owns Parson Weem’s Fable, one of my favorite Grant Wood works), gave a wonderful presentation on Grant Wood’s relationship to the theater. Wood became drawn to the theater at an early age after his first trip to the Anamosa Opera House where he saw a performance of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. Growing up (and through his adult life) he often assisted in the designing and painting of backdrops for plays. One of his backdrops is still in existence in McKinley Middle School in Cedar Rapids! I found a picture of the backdrop here: Wood and his friend and colleague Marvin Cone also wrote a play while they were in high school titled “Strings”.

Erika Doss from the University of Notre Dame highlighted how Hollywood was influenced by Grant Wood in the 1930s and 40s. Several famous people were buying works by Wood during this time—actress Katharine Hepburn (Near Sundown), songwriter Cole Porter (Death on Ridge Road), and actor Edward G. Robinson purchased Daughters of Revolution. Wood later gave Robinson a print of Shriner’s Quartet after they became pen pals of sorts. Filmmaker King Vidor also collected several of his works and Doss showed the relationship between Wood’s works and scenes in Vidor’s films.

For those that were not able to go on this year’s bus trip I believe video from the Symposium will be made available on the University of Iowa’s Art and Art History Department’s website. Until then, you can watch video from the 2010 Symposium here:

Upcoming events:

April 28: Spring Cleaning Day/New Volunteer Introduction, 8:00am-12:00pm

May 5: "American Gothic in Your Face: Grant Wood Up Close"--Presentation by John Duggleby at 2:00pm

May 18: New exhibit opening, 6:00-7:00pm

June 8-10: American Gothic Days

Holly Berg

American Gothic House Center

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