The Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce is placing four valuable paintings up for auction. The paintings include two by Grant Wood, one by Marvin Cone, and a water color by Norman Rockwell. The chamber of commerce owns the paintings, which have been in storage and off limits to public viewing since 1983.
Chamber marketing director Amy Johnson Boyle says it doesn’t make sense for the organization to hold on to the paintings. She says the chamber’s board of directors has been talking about the matter for years, and finally decided to sell the paintings. "We are not in the business of collecting art at the chamber of commerce," Johnson Boyle explained.
The paintings are expected to sell for a lot of money at auction in New York City. "It could be several hundred thousand dollars," Johnson Boyle said. She says the chamber does not have plans for the money from the art sale. Johnson Boyle says the primary motivation for the sale is to simply get the paintings into the hands of someone who will properly display the art.
"We would love to see someone in eastern Iowa purchase these paintings and properly care for them and display them, so people can see them and enjoy them. That would be our greatest hope." Johnson Boyle says it’s unclear how the chamber came to possess the paintings. There’s no mention of the paintings in the minutes from board meetings dating back to 1917.
The works have been in a climate controlled setting at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art for 24 years. Johnson Boyle says the museum does not have any interest in purchasing the paintings.