An image of the famous painting “American Gothic” -will- remain among the five candidates for the back of Iowa’s quarter. The state’s Quarter Commission voted this morning to keep the image of two stone-faced farmers on the list, despite being told a New York-based company has a copyright on it. Commission member Tom Riley says the company, VAGA, is lying. He says they are not an association of starving artists, he says they make their money collecting copyright fees.Riley says VAGA has -no- copyright on the painting by Iowan Grant Wood. Riley, a Cedar Rapids attorney, says VAGA has made a practice of threatening to file a lawsuit against anyone who uses “American Gothic” but always backs away from the threat.Riley says VAGA’s claim is “utter nonsense.” Riley, a Cedar Rapids attorney, says VAGA threatened Iowa State University Press a few years ago after a book was published that had the painting on its cover. He says ISU Press didn’t pay and VAGA backed off. He says many who’re threatened pay off the company because it is cheaper than trying to hire a lawyer to fight the issue.”American Gothic” is among five possible designs for the quarter honoring Iowa’s statehood. The others include two other Grant Wood paintings, titled “Arbor Day” and “Young Corn,” in addition to a design honoring the Sullivan brothers of Waterloo and another that shows a cow, a pig and corn. Some 600-million quarters will be minted honoring Iowa in late 2004.
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