Iowa is 10 years behind in fashion and urban sprawl. (We consider both good things.)
We have bicycle trails (2,000 miles of), viable downtowns in Iowa City, Des Moines, and Ames, organic farms, the writer Ruth Suckow’s birthplace, the Raptor Resource Project (eagle cams), the Bix Biederbecke Jazz Festival, Paglai’s Pizza Palace (an institution in Iowa City and Des Moines), the State Fair, and the World Food Prize.
It is a lovely place to live. I was raised in Iowa City, a university town. I grew up chatting to artists, poets, radical feminists, co-op organizers, anti-war protestors, professors, linguists, waitresses, janitors, Renaissance men and women, and “hippies.”
When we moved back to Iowa, we were delighted by the calm and quiet of daily life.
But is there art?
Yes, I’m an art geek. Sort of.
This weekend we wanted to be art geeks. So we went to the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha (we have to go to Nebraska for art), where we saw a wonderful exhibition, “Legacy: the Emily Landau Collection.”Landau gave her collection of post-war American art to the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2010, and part of it is traveling around the country.
I particularly liked James Rosenquist’s “House of Fire II,” a mural-size work in which lipsticks fly like missiles through a window with pink Venetian blinds. On the left, a tan glove rests above cans and fruit. On the right, cogs of a wheel turn. The placard says it reflects Rosenquist’s “anxiety over American obsession with consumerism.”
It certainly made me realize I had forgotten to wear lipstick (or any other makeup).
“Oh, God, where is my lipstick?”
But it is supposed to make us hate consumerism.
If you like Jasper Johns, you’re in luck. From the 410 pieces of the Landau Collection, somebody picked several of Jasper Johns screenprints. “Flags I” is a screenprint of two flags side-by-side, and “Flags II” shows the same image in black.
Andy Warhol’s “Myths,” synthetic polymer and screenprint ink on canvas, shows vertical rows of photos of American myths (we couldn’t identify all of them, but we tried):
- The Man of Steel
- Howdy Doody
- actress playing Cleopatra (we’re not sure)
- Mickey Mouse
- Uncle Sam
- Aunt Jemima (we’re not sure
- Wicked Witch of the West
Feeling bookish? See Allen Ruppersberg’s drawing, “The Gift of the Inheritance (Strike and Succeed by Horatio Alger).”
We very much enjoyed Ed Ruscha’s “Give Him Anything and He’ll Sign It,” which I call the pencil bird.
There was also a lot of word art. Take Barbara Kruger’s “Untitled Pledge.”
The placards gave minimal information, which was disappointing, because usually they’re very thorough at the Joslyn.
And there were very few works by women.
It’s fun to be an art geek for a day, though, and I highly recommend the exhibit.
Afterwards: Starbucks, The Bookworm, and Jackson Street Booksellers.