Highly revered for his artistry that captured his beloved Iowa landscape, the late Grant Wood was not without his detractors.
The University of Iowa archives often refer to the “Grant Wood Problem,” which serves as the title of a documentary theater piece by Iowa Playwright Workshop’s Scott Bradley.
The Grant Wood Art Colony in Iowa City is presenting a free, staged reading of an excerpt at 6 p.m. today at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. The selection focuses on the tensions around Wood’s academic career at the university.
The overall piece looks the life and legacy of Wood, whose identities as artist, mentor, and private individual were greatly contested during his lifetime and continue to prove elusive today.
Bradley explores how someone might contemplate his life and work, their coded meanings and impact on history, through the words of his colleagues, his family, the media and the artist himself. The text is composed of documented communications: personal letters, lectures, conference notes, news articles, interviews, as well as Wood’s unfinished autobiography.
The reading will be followed by a panel discussion with Bradley, University of Iowa Art History Professor Joni Kinsey, and Grant Wood Art Colony founder Jim Hayes.
They will offer their unique perspectives on Wood’s experience at the University of Iowa during the last decade of his life. Each panelist will speak to the various charges made against Wood during the 1930s. They also will address the advantages and dangers of viewing Wood’s work and the archives through a modern lens.
A reception will immediately follow the discussion. Attendees are invited to view the art museum’s exhibition, “Grant Wood: From Farm Boy to American Icon,” before selected works travel to New York for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s “Grant Wood: American Gothic and other Fables” exhibition, on display from March 2 to June 10, 2018.
The reading is presented in partnership with the Iowa Arts Council and State Historical Society of Iowa, both divisions of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, as they celebrate the intersection of arts and history in Iowa in honor of their 50th anniversary and 160th anniversary, respectively.
WHAT: “The Wood Problem” staged reading
WHERE: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, 410 Third Ave. SE
WHEN: 6 p.m. today (11/9)
EXTRAS: Reception afterward; audience invited to view the museum’s exhibit, “Grant Wood: From Farm Boy to American Icon”