Thursday, May 10, 2012

John Duggleby gets “up close” to Grant Wood

Saturday we were fortunate to host John Duggleby, author of children’s book “Artist in Overalls:  The Life of Grant Wood”.  I found out last fall that John was going to be in the neighborhood giving presentations in Burlington and Mount Pleasant, so I was able to book him to give his program “American Gothic in Your Face:  Grant Wood Up Close”.
We set up in front of the American Gothic House and hoped for a clear day.  John said giving his program in front of THE house was on his bucket list, so I was thrilled the weather cooperated to make his dream a reality!

Duggleby came sauntering out of the American Gothic House and was dressed the part—in overalls and jacket carrying a pitchfork.  John focused a lot of Grant Wood’s childhood and his love of art from an early age.  He spoke about how Wood struggled to find his place in the art world as an adult and his struggle to make art his profession.

John showed a lot of Wood’s paintings during his presentation with assistance from our young volunteer Katelyn.  It was her first day on the job as a volunteer at the Center.  I think the bar was set pretty high for her first volunteer experience.  She asked her mom when they could come back to volunteer next.  I better find something at least half as fun to do next time she’s here!

At the end John demonstrated an easy way to draw a chicken (as Grant Wood enjoyed to do as a child) and everyone in the audience had a chance to follow along.  Here is my finished chicken (and if you knew my usual art skill you would be impressed)!

To see more pictures from Saturday check out our Facebook page.
Thank you to the Ottumwa Area Arts Council for sponsoring this program!

Now that one event is finished its time to prepare for the next!  Please join us Friday, May 18 at 6:00pm for the unveiling of our new outdoor exhibit area.  As many of you know, visitors come to see the house at all hours—and unfortunately we can’t be open 24 hours a day!  This new exhibit will allow us to reach and educate more visitors!  The exhibit will feature a fun new way to interact with visitors.  Each exhibit panel will feature Quick-Response (Q-R) Codes that allows visitors with smart phones to quickly access information on our website as well as go directly to our Facebook page to post pictures from their visit!  We will demonstrate how this new technology works at the exhibit opening.  This exhibit is made possible by grants from Humanities Iowa and Central Iowa Tourism Region.

Upcoming events:
May 18:  New exhibit opening, 6:00-7:00pm
June 8-10:  American Gothic Days
Art Contest
5K Run/Walk
Bike Ride

Holly Berg
American Gothic House Center

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Geocachers Go Gothic

Last Thursday I had every intention of writing the newsletter. I had sat down to my computer at lunchtime (when it is usually fairly quiet this time of the year) to begin writing when one car, then another, then another, then ANOTHER pulled up outside. This continued until the parking lot was full and I was leaping to the phone to call some volunteers for backup! I quickly found out where they all came from—or rather where they were going. The carloads of visitors were on their way to Moravia, Iowa to attend MOGA (Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure). For those that don’t know, geocaching is a game where people hunt for “treasures” using GPS devices. One visitor said that about 1500 geocachers were set to attend the event in Moravia over the weekend!

So how does the house fit into this? The American Gothic House happens to be a “virtual cache” that has been here for around 10 years. Geocachers must take a picture of themselves holding their GPS in front of the house to log that they found the cache. The gentleman who placed the cache even stopped by on Friday and took this picture (or rather two pictures he combined). 

He placed the cache before the Center was open, and said he had realized something had been built since he last visited as many people donned costumes in their photos and talked about the visitor center, so he had to come see for himself!

I looked on the geocache site to see pictures visitors have logged at the house. You can see all of them (255 geocachers have logged their visit!) here:

All of the geocachers who stopped by were great to meet and visit with…and definitely kept us busy through the weekend! On Monday some of the final visitors with MOGA stopped by and showed me their event logo, which featured their mascot in front of the American Gothic House! So thanks to all of the MOGA attendees for stopping by! 

Upcoming events:
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-Art Contest, 5K Run/Walk, Bike Ride