Governor Chet Culver will posthumously give the state’s highest citizen honor to an Iowa artist whose "American Gothic" painting is both well-known and often parodied.
Grant Wood was born in Anamosa, grew up in Cedar Rapids and lived in Iowa City until his death in 1942. Attorney Jim Hayes owns the Iowa City house where Wood lived.
"Finally this award came to Grant Wood and I think this is just the beginning of lighting a light in Iowa and the nation for the recognition of his works," Hayes says.
Wood helped found the "Stone City Art Colony" to help artists survive the Great Depression. His 1930 classic — "American Gothic" — was inspired by a Gothic Revival style cottage in Eldon, Iowa. His sister and a dentist from Cedar Rapids were the models for the man and woman who were depicted in the painting.
Wood became an art professor at the University of Iowa in 1934. His painting style is often called "American Regionalism," and Hayes — the man who owns the painter’s Iowa City home — says Wood’s work still draws attention.
"I happen to believe that there’s a rebirth of interest in Grant Wood," Hayes says. "The more we see Grant Wood and the more the nation sees Grant Wood, I think the more they appreciate it."
The governor was at Wood’s former home in Iowa City today to announce he’ll name Grant Wood an "Iowa Award" winner at a ceremony later this fall.
The "Iowa Award" was established in 1948 but only 20 people have received it. Here is the list of recipients:
1951 President Herbert Hoover (engineer, humanitarian, author, and U.S. President);1955 Jay N. Darling (cartoonist, conservationist, Pulitzer Prize winner); 1961 Dr. Frank Spedding (educator, chemist, worked on the first atomic bomb);1961 Dr. James Van Allen (educator, physicist, rocket space exploration); 1966 Henry A. Wallace (U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Vice President of the United States);1970 Mamie Eisenhower (First Lady, wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower);1975 Dr. Karl King (composer, bandmaster);1978 Dr. Norman Borlaug (crop geneticist, worked to end world hunger, Nobel Peace Prize winner);1980 Monsignor Luigi Liguitti (director, National Catholic Rural Life Conference);1984 George Gallup (founder of the Gallup Poll);1988 Meredith Willson (composer, musician);1992 Carrie Lane Chapman Catt (leader in suffrage movement and for world peace);1996 Simon Estes (international opera singer);1999 Maurice Lasansky (artist, educator);1999 John Atanasoff (physicist, mathematician, educator, inventor of the first electronic digital computer);2001 John Ruan (innovative entrepreneur, philanthropist, World Food Prize sponsor); 2002 George Washington Carver (internationally renowned scientist and humanitarian);2005 Robert D. Ray (Governor, statesman, mayor, university president, lawyer, insurance executive); 2006 Harry Hopkins (Presidential advisor);2009 Grant Wood (artist).