The View From
What do you see from your window? Houses, barns, schools and churches? Fields of corn and hay or the rolling hillsides of the land between two rivers?" For the artist Grant Wood, these familiar scenes became the focus of an understanding of what it meant to be an Iowan.
This Iowa Department of Transportation Rest Area facility in Linn County pays homage to the life and work of Grant Wood and the development of Regionalism in American Art that grew directly from the landscape of Iowa. Many different elements of artwork are integrated throughout this rest area building and site. Internally illuminated Gothic windows with images of native Iowa plant species become icons in honor of Wood's "American Gothic" painting. The sculpture of rolling hills in the entry plaza recalls the landforms made famous in Wood's landscape paintings, while bales of hay become benches. Relief carved and modeled panels based on topographical sections found in Wood's paintings create textures and patterns that are inset into the facade of the building. The colorful striped patterns of crop rows and contours are depicted in the epoxy-terrazzo floor mural. The pattern merges with other Grant Wood landscape images made of digitally glazed ceramic tile in the restroom vestibule murals. The 2004 Iowa State quarter becomes a lighted medallion in the rear vestibule. Silhouettes of houses can be seen through the glass and suggest a community or neighborhood. Picnic shelters, complete with wheels and metal roofs, recall the ice wagons that were home to the artists living and working in Wood's Stone City Art Colony in Cedar Rapids. Wood's painting, American Gothic, (1930) may be the most recognizable image in all of American Art, and one of the three or four most identified pieces in all of art, for that matter. It is also the most parodied. The painting has become perhaps the most immediately recognized American icon of the 20th Century, however, very few people traveling through Iowa know that Grant Wood's studio and the movement that he founded, is rooted in Cedar Rapids and the region of Linn County.