Monday, June 22, 2009

Repairing Grant Wood...

Recently, my mom sent me an article from the hometown paper about repairs to a Grant Wood stained glass window. The stained glass was cracked during the Floods of 2008 in Eastern Iowa. The window has a huge rising angel of peace in the center who is welcoming all the veterans home. Along the bottom there are soldiers from the nation’s six major wars through to World War I. It’s an amazing piece that has left me standing mesmerized each time I beheld it as a child.

Most of you may know the artist Grant Wood for his famous piece American Gothic, or maybe a parody of this work which is one of the most popular parodied pieces outside of Mona Lisa, and Whistler’s Mother. The original painting of American Gothic done in 1930 now hangs permanently in the Art Institute of Chicago. I luckily grew up looking quite often on his works some of my favorites which you may not have seen or heard of. There’s the, Woman with Plants(pictured below), where Grant lovingly painted his mother with a snake plant. It’s a real favorite of mine.

Another favorite is his Young Corn(pictured below), where he rounds the hills and trees making them ever so friendly and simple. He helped create an all-American style of art. If you ever happen to be driving through the Stone City, Iowa area; you’ll see where he got the idea of rounding of hills and the trees. It looks like much of the scenery in that area, with patches of different colored fields depending on the crop. It brings back fond memories of weekend drives through the area. I also remember a Young Corn-like landscape being on cover of the Cedar Rapids phone book one year.

The towering stained glass window (pictured at top), measuring 21 feet wide by 25 feet tall, was commissioned by my hometown, Cedar Rapids Iowa, in 1927 for a mere $9000; a bargain at that time. Grant Wood was quoted two years later that it was “…at least a $12,000 window”. Now the bids to repair the 58 paneled window is anywhere from $111,000 to $170,000. The piece has an estimated $300,000 insurance policy, according to the newspaper article from the Cedar Rapids Gazette. It's amazing how art appreciates. I can only hope one day when I'm six feet under some of my work will be worth something. The stained glass window will be removed from the Veterans Memorial Building/City Hall for a year at least for the repairs.

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