Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cedar Rapids: A Bloom Among the Cornfields...

It has been awhile since I've finished another painting.  But I did managed to put the finishing touches on this painting this last week amid working 70+ hours between two jobs.  But soon hopefully, I will have more time to afford doing some more painting.  But anyway, here's my latest painting that I call:
" Cedar Rapids: A Bloom Among the Cornfields".
Photo: "CR: A Bloom Among the Cornfields"; Watercolor and Ink on 16" x 20" cold press paper.
I wanted to try to capture the essence of my hometown.  Coming back to the area made me think about what is really unique to this city; call it a bit of nostalgia for my lost childhood or pride about the city of my birth rite.  But outside of a tall cement tree down by the Cedar River that's called the Five Seasons Tree, there was not a symbol or painting that said Cedar Rapids to me .  So I embarked onto an idea of painting something that says Cedar Rapids to me.

The painting rather evolved as I thought about it.  Cedar Rapids is the 2nd largest metropolitan area of Iowa.  It was a given that the background area would be corn.  Iowa is the corn state after all.  I ended up choosing a simplified Easter lily with 5 petals to stand for the 5 seasons.  It also rather stood for the city rising out of the cornfields to arrive at its present state of bloom; a risen metropolis.  I placed the City of the Five Seasons Tree at the center of it all.  The Five Season Tree stands near the center of Cedar Rapids along the bank of the Cedar River; a river that runs through the heart of the city.

I then thought about what makes Cedar Rapids unique.  First and foremost what came to mind was the American Gothic painting.  Yes, the famous iconic painting of the farmer standing with pitchfork, next to a woman with the steeped roof house in the background.  It was painted here in Cedar Rapids by Grant Wood in his art studio located in a carriage house that's tucked in along an alley way only about a block from 1st Ave.  The house in the background is located in Eldon, Iowa.  The man in the painting was actually Wood's dentist and the woman was Wood's sister Nan.  The original painting hangs in Chicago at the Art Institute.

Cedar Rapids buildings came to mind like the Veterans Memorial building that stands at the heart of the city and contains the only commissioned stain glass done by Grant Wood. Then there's the large red roofed National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library that is located down by Czech Village.  Then there's the  world's largest cereal mill in Quaker Oats.
Photo- Close up of Brucemore and the Paramount in "CR:A Bloom Among the Cornfields"

The Brucemore Mansion had to be in there too.  At one time the Victorian Mansion was know as "the grandest house west of Chicago".  It's become a landmark of the area and is setting back amid 26 acres of sculpted garden and lawn just off of 1st Ave.  Quite often there are different cultural and art events that occur on the lawns of the famous house.

I also wanted to acknowledge the wonderful history of cultural arts within the city too. I added the iconic marquee of the Paramount Theatre which is a restored example of a 1920's movie/vaudeville palace.  It first opened in 1928 as the Capital Theatre but in 1929 it was purchased by Paramount Pictures and given its current name.  The Paramount serves as the home to the Orchestra Iowa, the Cedar Rapids Area Theater Organ Society, and a series of Community Concerts.  You can also catch an Opera there too.  The Theatre Cedar Rapids is another cultural jewel of the area and live theater can be enjoyed there.  In fact, I remember years and years ago watching movies as a kid among its seats.  It has been restored to its former glory since the 2008 flood. 

AND that is another item that I want to share about Cedar Rapids.  I think it gives even more significance to the city and its rising out of the flood to still continue to bloom as the metropolis that it is.  It says a lot about the community and its people.  All of those citizens of Cedar Rapids should be proud for what has happened since the flood.  When the 2008 flood hit, there was a HUGE impact on the area but the city has made an amazing rebound from that flood.
Photo: A close up of the Newbo Market, the Czech Museum, and Czech Village
in "CR: A Bloom Among the Cornfields" Painting.

Newbo Market is a dynamic new addition to the city; it contains fresh food vendors and handmade goods with a mix of activities and music thrown in.  It's just a place full of activities and fun on Thursday nights and the weekends in Cedar Rapids. 

Lastly, I had to of course acknowledge the sport teams that are in Cedar Rapids.  The Kernels baseball club, the Titans Indoor football, and the Rough Rider's hockey.  All of these things and more sum up to equal what Cedar Rapids is.  Who knows I might even see about some postcards and  t-shirts? :)