Thursday, October 4, 2012

American Gothic and Grant Wood turns up when you least expect

American Gothic House Center
On a trip to the grocery store in Egg Harbor, Door County, Wis. last week I was somewhat surprised to see an American Gothic parody on the door of a unisex bathroom. At first it appeared to be a normal parody, but upon closer inspection the structure was not the American Gothic House, but rather the grocery store. In the background, fittingly, was Green Bay, which borders Egg Harbor on the West.

As far as props, the man is holding a turkey and bottles of wine (the latter something Door County is noted for) and the woman is holding, most likely, either an apple or cherry pie (both grow in abundance in the area, the fruit not the pies). As all parodies go it was fun, but the background detail found in the painting was impressive. Obviously the artist, or the owners, perhaps one in the same, wanted to showcase their store (and the bathroom door) via the recognizable and iconic American Gothic—clever.

A bit closer to home, in Marshalltown, word is there may be a hidden Grant Wood mural in the Tallcorn Towers Apartment building (drum roll, please). However, residents of the town will not know for sure until after the first of the year.

Built in 1928 by the Eppley Hotel Company, the building has recently changed hands and renovation is scheduled to begin in January. After the discovery of an article in a June 6, 1949 edition of the paper, which reported Wood had been commissioned to paint a mural in the ballroom, eyebrows began to raise with the possibility of a Grant Wood original in the soon-to-be-renovated building

According to a Sept. 21 article in the Marshalltown Times-Republican, under the layers of wallpaper and paint in the ballroom hallway (photo at right courtesy of the Marshalltown Times Republican and Mike Donahey) of the former hotel a mural by Grant Wood could exist based on the article found in the archives of the newspaper. Evidence is sketchy, however, as local historians are unable to confirm Wood ever worked at the hotel. Stay tuned for future updates.

Getting back to Door County—we don’t mind if we get a plug from other parts of the country so I don’t mind giving one—if you are not familiar with the area it is a peninsula wedged between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. It’s a place of sailing vessels, blue water, lighthouses, roadside stands and an ample supply of bars—plenty of bars—and restaurants. Cheese and fruit is in abundance, as well as every kind of beer imaginable. It  does not allow chain restaurants and hotels and motels are locally owned. It is known for big water, trees and quiet. A perfect place to escape, relax, and reflect. Something we all need to do on occasion.

Brian Chambers
Media Coordinator
The American Gothic House

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. Thank you to all who have donated so far!
        Our Mission: Integrating the puzzle pieces of American Gothic
300 American Gothic St | Eldon, IA 52554 | 641-652-3352 |

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