Outgoing Governor Tom Vilsack’s portrait was unveiled Monday at the Governors of Iowa exhibit at the State Historical Building in Des Moines. Iowa native Charles Freitag of Marion painted the portrait. Freitag grew up on a small eastern Iowa farm and has spent some 20 years using the canvas to preserve Iowa’s rural and agricultural heritage.
Freitag says "It kind of takes people back and so they’re kind of historical pieces." He says some critics compare him to Iowa artist Grant Wood, who was known for similar rural depictions, but he says more people liken his American character style to the artist he admires most — Norman Rockwell. Freitag says he’s best known for his historic farm and tractor settings.
Freitag says "In this picture, they’re shelling corn out of a crib and it’s just not done anymore. I mean, maybe a handful of people do it around the country." In his paintings, he sometimes recreates old-time farmsteads as they looked decades ago, or he joins generations of today’s farmers and their kids with long-gone relatives.
He says "This place doesn’t exist anymore. It’s actually an old farmstead I saw some aerial photos of." Portraits were also unveiled Monday of Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson and First Lady Christie Vilsack.