Paint Me a Picture

With Iowa's breathtaking scenery, it's no wonder our great state has inspired a multitude of artists to pick up their paintbrushes and sculpting tools to create works of art known around the world.

Grant Wood

No other house may be quite as iconic as the one in Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting. When you visit the American Gothic House and Visitor Center, you can see the house that inspired Wood’s most famous work of art in person. And that’s just the beginning.

About Wood
Wood was born on a farm in Anamosa in 1891. At his Cedar Rapids high school, he created scenery for plays and drawings for his high school yearbook. After stints in Minneapolis, Chicago and Europe, Wood permanently landed in Iowa and founded the Stone City Art Colony, an art school and artists’ colony near Anamosa.
 
In 1934, Wood was appointed Director of the Public Works of Art Projects in Iowa. The next year he began teaching at the University of Iowa, which he continued to do until his death in 1942. During this time, he also lectured and taught throughout the country, becoming a spokesman for Regionalist art. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Anamosa.

Be Sure to Visit:

View the full itinerary



Isabel Bloom

Wonderful handcrafted Isabel Bloom sculptures adorn homes across the country. When you tour the Harborview Production Studio near the banks of the Mississippi River, you’ll get to see every step that goes into making the unique Isabel Bloom sculptures.

About Bloom
Isabel Scherer was born in Texas in 1908. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Davenport, where she would remain for the majority of her life. At the age of 13, she began taking painting lessons. Then in 1932, she attended Grant Wood’s Stone City Art Colony where she studied painting and composition and sculpture. This is also where she met her husband, the artist John Bloom.
 
Her experimentation with the reproduction of her clay sculptures led to the development of the unique concrete casting and finishing process still used to create each Isabel Bloom sculpture. Then and now, each piece is hand-finished. The original green-tinted finish is intended to resemble weathered bronze Victorian-era garden sculpture.

Be Sure to Visit:

View the full itinerary



John Bloom

Art in eastern Iowa just wouldn’t be the same without artist John Bloom. Husband to another renowned artist, Isabel Bloom, his art and influence can be seen throughout eastern Iowa.

About Bloom
Bloom was born in De Witt in 1906. In the summer of 1932, Grant Wood offered Bloom a special invitation to join his Stone City Art Colony. Due to exhibition expenses, Bloom was unable to afford the required tuition, so he served as the colony groundskeeper to cover his fees. During this time, he met another Stone City Colony student – a sculptor named Isabel Scherer, who he would marry. John was eventually hired by Wood to assist in designing and painting murals.
 
Soon, Bloom was commissioned on his own to create murals at the De Witt and Tipton post offices. During this time, Bloom worked in the Davenport area as an industrial designer for H. Wood Miller Company, while actively pursuing his interest in lithography, serving as a commercial artist for the Army Corps of Engineers at the Rock Island Arsenal, painting houses and conducting home renovations to support his family.

Be Sure to Visit:

View the full itinerary

 

Christian Petersen

Iowa State University is known for its beautiful campus – and much of that beauty comes from Christian Petersen’s artwork, including major public sculptures that can be found on every corner of campus.

About Petersen
Christian Petersen emigrated from Denmark to the United States in 1894. After being trained in sculpture in New England, he was hired by Grant Wood’s Public Works of Art Project in Iowa City. In 1934, Petersen began working on relief sculptures for Iowa State College’s (now University) Dairy Industry Building. In 1935, he became the nation’s first campus artist-in-residence. He would sculpt and teach at Iowa State until 1955.
 
While on campus, Petersen created more than 12 major public sculptures and hundreds of studio sculptures. Among his works on Iowa State’s campus are the Athletic Bas Reliefs (1936, State Gym); the "Gentle Doctor" (1936, Veterinary Medicine); the Four Seasons Fountain (1941, Memorial Union); the Marriage Ring (1942, Family and Consumer Sciences); and Library Boy and Girl (1944, ISU Library).
 
His art firmly established the university’s practice of collecting public works of art. Iowa State currently has the largest public art collection of any college or university in the nation with more than 400 major works of art.

Be Sure to Visit:

View the full itinerary

 

Maynard Reece

When you think beautiful wildlife art, think Maynard Reece. Not only is he Iowa’s premier wildlife artist – he is considered one of the founding fathers of wildlife art as it is known today.

About Reece
Reece was born in Arnolds Park in 1920. When he was only 28, he won the prestigious Federal Duck Stamp competition for the first time. He is currently the only five-time winner of that competition, having won again in 1951, 1959, 1969 and 1971.
 
Reece’s work has appeared in LifeSports IllustratedSaturday Evening PostSports Afield, Outdoor LifeDucks Unlimited and National Wildlife. Additionally, he has illustrated a number of books, including The Waterfowl Art of Maynard Reece and The Upland Bird Art of Maynard Reece. Reece’s paintings have been exhibited in museums throughout the United States and Canada.

Be Sure to Visit:

View the full itinerary

« Return to Art & Culture