Iowa Celebrates Grant Wood's 125th Birthday

Throughout 2016, Iowa will celebrate artist Grant Wood's 125th birthday with exhibits and happenings all across the state. Wood (1891-1942) was the farm boy from Anamosa, Iowa, who grew up to create one of the most recognizable pieces of American 20th century art -- American Gothic. According to the Art Institute of Chicago, Wood used his sister and his dentist as models for a farmer and his daughter, dressing them as if they were "tintypes from my old family album."

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Below are a few Iowa attractions celebrating the artistry of Grant Wood and how he shaped American art -- and how Iowa helped shape Grant Wood. For more, check out the Grant Wood Trail.

Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids has the world's largest collection of works by Grant Wood, with a selection always on display. Through May 15, a special exhibition titled Grant Wood and Marvin Cone: Barns, Farms, and America's Heartland focuses on their shared interest in Iowa's rolling countryside, farms and the people who inhabit them. The two artists began their lifelong friendship in Cedar Rapids, attended high school together and were an active force in the Stone City Art Colony.

Figge Art Museum, Davenport Grant Wood acquisition has been described as a "generous slice of his life" that showcases not only artwork but also his personal correspondence and effects. The archive includes Wood's familiar wire-rimmed glasses, his easel and painting tools, as well as the iconic cameo broach that appears in the portrait of his mother, Woman with Plants, 1929, and in his most famous painting, American Gothic, 1930.

Go out and about and see the American Gothic House Center, Eldon and visit the house that inspired Grant Wood to paint American Gothic. The adjacent American Gothic House Center showcases the artist's life and the history of the house. Props on hand encourage visitors to pose in front of the historic American Gothic House and create their own unique American Gothic portrait.

Grant Wood Scenic Byway encourages visitors to drive through a Grant Wood painting along the 75-mile stretch from Stone City to the Mississippi River. Soak in the same scenery now immortalized by the Iowa artist. Along the journey you can visit Wood's childhood school and the community that hosted the famed Stone City Art Colony.

The Grant Wood Art Gallery in Wood's birthplace of Anamosa offers a free gallery featuring displays where you can learn all about Wood, including videos and photos depicting his life.

Overalls All Over, Cedar Rapids is pure fun. Approximately 30 life-sized fiberglass statues depicting the farmer and his daughter of American Gothic will be on display in and around Cedar Rapids from May 1 through September 4. Local artists will create unique designs for each statue. Visit Grant Wood Studio and Visitor Center to explore the original studio where Grant Wood lived and worked from 1924-1935, and where he painted that iconic image.

Photo courtesy of Travel Iowa

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February 27th, 2016

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