Rare and ‘unusual’ Grant Wood works make up CRMA’s newest exhibition

Grant Wood, ‘Corn Cob Chandelier’, 1925-1926, copper, iron, paint, 94 x 32 x 42 inches, gift of John B. Turner II, 81.17.3. — Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

Some of Grant Wood’s most well-known paintings depict Midwesterners wielding metal tools, from plows to garden hoes to, of course, pitchforks. Less known is that Wood worked with metal himself. As a child, he served as an apprentice at a Cedar Rapids metal shop, and was later commissioned by a number of local homeowners and businesses to create metal artwork; one client, for instance, tasked Wood with creating corn-themed hotel fixtures.

Grant Wood’s metalwork — including a corny chandelier — will be among dozens of rarely seen Wood pieces featured in the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art’s newest exhibit, Grant Wood Revealed, open now through Sept. 5, 2021. The exhibit is part of the museum’s year-long celebration of Iowa’s 175th anniversary. (President James K. Polk signed Iowa statehood into law on Dec. 28, 1846.)

Rural life, particularly in Iowa, was a seemingly endless source of inspiration for Grant Wood (1891-1942), a longtime Cedar Rapidian, University of Iowa art professor and lifelong Iowan (despite spending much of the ’20s traveling Europe). As one of the most famous artists in American history and certainly Iowa history, it’s no surprise that the CRMA would become a collector of Wood’s works and maintain a permanent Grant Wood gallery. But Grant Wood Revealed marks a departure from their typical Wood offerings, according to the museum.

In a press release, CRMA Executive Director Sean Ulmer said the exhibit will showcase a “different side of an artist everyone thinks they know.”

“While American Gothic is the most famous American painting, Wood created it at the age of 39,” he said. “Grant Wood Revealed shares how Grant Wood evolved as an artist, from his childhood drawings — already quite sophisticated — to drawings for his high school yearbook, from early explorations in Impressionism to his impactful series of portraits of the later 1920s, from his initial forays into metalwork to a commission for the J. G. Cherry company.”

Grant Wood, ‘The Coil Welder’ (J.G. Cherry Series), 1925, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 29 ¾ inches, gift of the Cherry Burrell Charitable Foundation, 74.5.2. — Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

The J.G. Cherry Company — which worked out of the historic Cherry Building in Cedar Rapids’ NewBo District for about 25 years — was depicted in a series of paintings by Wood in 1925. One of these pieces, The Coil Welder, will be on display as part of the new exhibit, which is largely focused on works created prior to 1930, when his fame and notoriety as a painter took off. This period of success was cut short when Wood died from pancreatic cancer in 1942.

Another piece called Firescreen Ornament represents the pre-American Gothic point in Wood’s career (roughly 1920 to 1930) in which he was a popular contractor among locals looking to spruce up their homes, specifically residents of Linden Drive in Cedar Rapids.

“Some of the decorative commissions he received during this time: a folding screen, fireplace andirons, painted lunettes and more,” CRMA explained in a Facebook post. “In these projects, he demonstrated an inclination to borrow from many artistic sources, including organic vegetal forms, Victorian florals and Art Deco designs.”

Grant Wood, ‘Firescreen Ornament’, c. 1929-1930, wrought iron, 50 ¼ x 21 ¼ x 4 ½ inches, gift of John T. Hamilton III, 69.12. — Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

More than one-third of CRMA’s nearly 300-piece Wood collection — the largest in the world — will be featured in Grant Wood Revealed.

“This exhibition exposes Wood’s ever-inquisitive mind and the works included — some from the Museum’s own extensive collection as well as several key loans from private collectors — share the steps in this artist’s fruitful but all-too-short career,” Ulman wrote.

Grant Wood, ‘Master Gordon Fennell’, 1929, oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 20 3/16 inches, gift of Mr. Gordon Fennell, 78.1. — Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 12-4 p.m., with special hours Thursday (12-8 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.-4 p.m.). Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and college students, $4 for children aged 6 to 18 and free for kids 5 and under. Face coverings are required by the museum and the mask mandates in Cedar Rapids and Linn County. Masks are available for purchase at the museum.

If you want even more Wood-iness while at the museum, there are currently three other exhibitions dedicated to his work: Grant Wood: From Farm Boy to American Icon, Americans in Paris: Grant Wood and Marvin Cone’s 1920 Trip to Paris and Seriously Funny: American Gothic Parodies.

Grant Wood, Old Shoes, 1926, oil on composition board, 10 x 10 inches, gift of Harriet Y. and John B. Turner II, 76.2.3.

[gravityform id="17" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper your-village-form_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_17' ><a id='gf_17' class='gform_anchor' ></a><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_17' class='your-village-form' action='/rare-and-unusual-grand-wood-works-make-up-crmas-newest-exhibition/#gf_17'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_17' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_17_7' class='gfield gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><h3 style="font-weight:800; font-size:34px;">Let's get started</h3> <p style="font-size:18px;">Fill out this form and we'll contact you with information about marketing with Little Village!</p></li><li id='field_17_4' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' for='input_17_4_3' ></label><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name has_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_2 ginput_container_name gfield_trigger_change' id='input_17_4'> <span id='input_17_4_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_4.3' id='input_17_4_3' value='' aria-label='First name' tabindex='2' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='First name'/> <label for='input_17_4_3' >First</label> </span> <span id='input_17_4_6_container' class='name_last' > <input type='text' name='input_4.6' id='input_17_4_6' value='' aria-label='Last name' tabindex='4' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='Last name'/> <label for='input_17_4_6' >Last</label> </span> </div></li><li id='field_17_5' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_5' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_5' id='input_17_5' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='6' placeholder='Company name' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_17_3' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_3' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_3' id='input_17_3' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='7' placeholder='Your email address' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false"/> </div></li><li id='field_17_8' class='gfield gform_validation_container field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_8' >Phone</label><div class='ginput_container'><input name='input_8' id='input_17_8' type='text' value='' /></div><div class='gfield_description'>This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.</div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_17' class='gform_button button' value='SUBMIT' tabindex='8' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; jQuery("#gform_17").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=17&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='17' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_17' value='WyJbXSIsIjlmNzc1YTEyZmZjNmYyODk5Mzk0NDM3ZjRlOGYyZDNmIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_17' id='gform_target_page_number_17' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_17' id='gform_source_page_number_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> <p style="display: none !important;"><label>&#916;<textarea name="ak_hp_textarea" cols="45" rows="8" maxlength="100"></textarea></label><input type="hidden" id="ak_js_1" name="ak_js" value="247"/><script>document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() );</script></p></form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_ajax_frame_17'>This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 17, '' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_17').load( function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_17');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_17').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').offset().top); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_17').val();gformInitSpinner( 17, '' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [17, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_17').offset().top);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [17]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_17').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> if(typeof gf_global == 'undefined') var gf_global = {"gf_currency_config":{"name":"U.S. Dollar","symbol_left":"$","symbol_right":"","symbol_padding":"","thousand_separator":",","decimal_separator":".","decimals":2},"base_url":"https:\/\/\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope","number_formats":[],"spinnerUrl":"https:\/\/\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope\/images\/spinner.gif"};jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 17) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, 1]) } ); </script>