Grant Wood's Midwest

I've been visiting family for a few days back in Illinois, from whence I came. Part of my time has been spent in the Quad Cities, which straddle the Mississippi, two on each side. Cultural tidbit: one of the four cities is Rock Island, immortalized in Lead Belly's rendition of the old folk-blues railroad song, "The Rock Island Line." In terms of visual art, the task of immortalizing this region fell to Grant Wood, who grew up a hundred miles or so from Rock Island, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Wood, of course, is best known as the painter of the iconic "American Gothic," which featured a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact husband and wife farmer team. But if Wood's portraits tended toward the austere, his landscapes did not. They are rounded, fecund, embracing.


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