In the early 1930s, there were failed harvests in Iowa, because of drought and dust storms. But the number “1892” appears under the peak of the barn, indicating that the painting isn’t about the current crisis, but about something Wood remembers from his childhood on the farm. What I also notice are the four horses—the two calm plow horses beside the barn, and the picture-in-a-picture of two horses on the wall behind the farmers, also one dark, one white, tails lifted, galloping up a hill. And, the wallpaper in the dining room is ornate, gridlike, perfect. What I see in Wood’s depictions of the Iowa landscape is the understanding of the difference between large and small. Like me, he wanted to find a way to boil the grandeur of the hills and fields down a bit, to clarify it, to set it in the space defined by the canvas, and yet evoke its grandeur.
Wood was born outside Anamosa, about 25 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids. The family farmhouse has been torn down, though his one-room schoolhouse is still standing, on Highway 64. It is a square white building, last in use as a school in 1959, sitting on a slight rise, now the center of a small park. Closer to town, some of the cornfields give way to stands of trees. The Grant https://wilddogsbar.com/2021/01/26/carving-the-white-whale-a-true-tale-of-calluses/ Gallery is a small museum devoted to the artist’s life and times, and a gift shop, one of several stores in the red-brick main street shopping area . The gallery is touristy, but soon won’t be—it is about to be renovated into a larger, more museumlike establishment.
What strikes me are the green grids along the entrance into the back of the house, the same color as the shutters in front. I comment on them, and Hayes tells me that Wood loved order, that he composed his paintings using gridlike plans. When I look atStone City andNear Sundown, this is evident. He also may have melded rigor and spontaneity when he was painting in the Impressionist style.The Naked Manat first appears very orderly, but Wood overlaid the orderliness with random brushstrokes.
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I explore the house a bit, and in the small gift shop buy a white hand-crocheted doily that depicts the Gothic window and neatly represents Wood’s painting as a popular and traditional icon. And then I get back in the car, drive north and turn east on Route 22. I do a lot of random signs and paintings and these are super smooth so you can write on them by hand and not worry about having to sand them down or anything. They’re thin enough that they can fit into a frame with glass covering to hang up. I think they look a bit higher quality than just using canvases for projects, but these are very inexpensive. Grab your favorite paints to personalize these unfinished wooden panels.