Art through the ages: two exhibitions focusing on American art


MUSCATINE, Iowa-Although best known for its more local art collections, including the Mississippi River and Iowa Regionalist collections, the Muscatine Art Center also hosts exhibitions from across the country and beyond. This summer, the Art Center offers a glimpse of art through the ages with a pair of new exhibits showcasing the work of American artists from here and elsewhere.

In the central hall of the Musser McColm Museum, the Broadmoor School exhibit brings the American West of the 1930s to life with an impressive series of lithographs. A gift to the art center from former Muscatine resident Sandra Toye and her husband Colonel Richard Toye, these 17 pieces feature works of art created by artists who studied at Broadmoor School in the 1930s Contemporaries of Grant Wood in Iowa (who taught at Broadmoor School), the artists portrayed life during the Great Depression through their mostly black and white lithographs.

For Muscatine Art Center director Melanie Alexander, the exhibit highlights many similarities between the work of Iowa artists and their counterparts across the country during stage and regionalist periods. “Even though we are here in Iowa, I really love the western landscape and I can see parallels with what was going on in Iowa Art,” she observed. This exhibition will remain visible until March 13, 2022, offering art lovers many opportunities to enjoy it.

Exiting the central hall and into one of the galleries on the second floor, museum visitors can browse art from a very different era in American history. The exhibition Bruce Walters: What the hand dares to catch fire? examines more than 37 years of art created by Bruce Walters, a University of Iowa graduate and professor emeritus at Western Illinois University. Although Walters works in a variety of media, including animation, digital art, painting, photography, and projection, he has focused this exhibition on his graphite drawings. Spanning several decades of his career, Walters’ works depict a variety of subjects, including portraits and images from several poems by William Blake. To Alexander, the details of many of these works make them fascinating to look at.

Later this summer, on August 22, Muscatine residents can meet Walters in person at an upcoming ice cream social event that the Art Center has planned. Alexander encourages art lovers to come and explore his collection in advance, as the exhibition will end after the social. She also said that guests at the party will enjoy their conversation with Walters because he has a relaxed demeanor that puts people at ease.

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