June 19, 2016
BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
A walk through curator Judy Barter’s stunning new exhibit at the Art Institute, “America: After the Fall,” followed by a dinner in Griffin Court and the Pritzker Garden, provided the Sustaining Fellows a first viewing of this trail-blazing show of the art of the 1930s.
In his introductory remarks, AIC President, James Rondeau, shared some news about Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” purchased in 1930, soon after it was painted. The painting will be making its maiden voyage from North America as the show travels next to the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and London’s Royal Academy.
Judy Barter, Field-McCormick Chair and Curator of American Art, revealed that the iconic man with the pitchfork and his solemn wife, both in their Sunday best, were really Wood’s dentist and sister.
Iowan Julie Allen remembered that her grandfather knew Grant Wood and saw “American Gothic” when the artist first displayed it at the Hotel Montrose in Cedar Rapids, before the Art Institute purchased perhaps its most famous painting.
The exhibition of 50 works highlights the work of Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, and others to tell the story of the Great Depression. A photo of Wood and Benton in overalls at their artists’ colony in Stone City, Iowa, captured their dedication to portraying regional life on the farm. Several paintings were part of the Federal Art Project.
Janet Duchossois, Chair of the Sustaining Fellows, welcomed guests, who filled the Rubloff Auditorium for the Annual Meeting and Open House. Wendy Chronister Rogers, Lori Gray Faversham, and Ellen Greenberger served as Program Chairs.
Depression Era music filled Griffin Hall, with many guests following the invitation’s suggestion to dress in 1930s-inspired cocktail attire. Among the attendees were Helmut and Deborah Jahn, Cynthia Olson, Tom Gorman, Erika Meyer, Anne and Paul Krauss, Karen and Tom Howell, Christopher Monkhouse, Gloria Groom, Laura de Frise and Steve Rugo, Noelle Brock and Tom Keim, Philip Vidal, Chip Mottier, Gay Stanek, Karla Scherer and Harve Ferrell, and Martha Tedeschi.