Monday, August 13, 2007
We held a baby pig. We pointed and guffawed at the world's largest boar. We cut in line to see the (underwhelming) butter cow. But most importantly, we shared our first deep-fried Snickers bar. Some say going to the Iowa State Fair is one of those experiences you just have to have. I agree. It is a beautiful celebration of life, this kind of strange old-timey carnival that is half harvest festival and half amusement park. We braved the heat and crowds last Sunday to see it, and although we didn't run into any presidential hopefuls, we did do a lot of people watching. At the end of the day, we took the skyline ride across the fair in an homage to my mom, whose favorite ride at Hershey Park was the one meant for perpetual observing. By the way, that pig I am holding hated me. He squealed so loud he had to be put back in the pen with the sow.
Friday, August 10, 2007
In July I reported on a story about Sticks, a Des Moines-based fine craft furniture studio that employs over 150 artists. The piece just ran in the August issue of ArtScene. About five guys from the Sticks studio take a truck down to the river a couple times a week to pull out driftwood for use in the studio. Eventually, the design team sketches a theme on the wood items. The company works closely with galleries around the country to create the works, which all have the same folksy Sticks aesthetic and which reflect a certain pride of place (ie. the Vermont items have maple syrup and blueberries on them). In this image, the painting lead Ericca Davis exercising her discerning eye as she surveys the works in progress. Adam's friend Allison, an ISU alum, is the blond in the background.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Talk to the locals in Anamosa, birthplace of Grant Wood, and you'll hear a lot of stories about the painter, some true, some lovingly extrapolated fables. As local tourism officials struggle to bring people to the town by playing up Wood's connection to it, they find themselves at the generational juncture where local gossip becomes myth. Most of the people who actually knew Wood are long gone and those remaining are retiring or retired. Still, there is a lot to see, most of it in Stone City, a quarry town four miles north of Anamosa where Wood ran an art colony in 1932, and a whole lot of stories to hear.
My friend Nick Bergus used a review I wrote to showcase his web design talents. Don't be fooled by the toolbar, this is the only content on the site, but he did a great job (except for the lame-o editorial additions and the text cuts which have left the review a mere vestige of my original. You can check at his work at his monstrously colorful webpage. Nick can steal content from me anytime.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Big day in the House of Diesburg. Adam passed his dental boards with flying colors (or with hues as varied as the dental community allows...) and I traveled to Eldon, Iowa, population roughly 950, to visit the American Gothic House. I didn't expect it to be big or thrilling or extraordinary in any way, but I had perhaps the most bizarre day of the entire summer there. The concrete circle set directly in front of the house -- the place where you stand to get your picture taken -- is actually larger than the house itself. The whole town is jumping on the Grant Wood gravy train, with locales such as Julia's American Gothic House Cafe, American Gothic gifts, and American Gothic Grub & coffee. I'm compiling my experiences touring the Grant Wood sites in the state for a cover article for ArtScene Iowa.