--Dan Cummins (Board President)

Art and Power

The events of the last week remind us of the risks of power and the fragility of democratic society.  In contemplating the role of art in challenging times, I came across a moving speech by John F. Kennedy honoring the poet Robert Frost. It strikes me that these words are as accurate now as then. They can be extrapolated to be about all art and the people who create it.
“Robert Frost coupled poetry and power, for he saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.

The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state… In pursuing his perceptions of reality, he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role…

If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.”

John F. Kennedy Speech Following Robert Frost’s death (Amherst College, October 26, 1963)
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Please Tell Us Your Views
--Beppie Weiss

Happy New Year! Let’s consider 2021 a clean canvas.

Clean CanvasLet’s begin the year with good intentions and make every day the best possible.

Plan. Stretch. Create. Make something new. Be kind to yourself and others. Dream. Get a COVID shot if possible and Wear your Mask! 

Enough. Let’s see how I do taking my own advice. I should probably toss in “lose 10 pounds”.

Here are five Art competitions you might be interested in.

These three artist opportunities details can be found at

  • “Iowa Artists 50th Anniversary online Exhibition” This is an online show of work finished in 2020. There is no entry fee but you must be a member of Iowa Artists. The deadline is January 31st. Go to:  fineart@deannaskokan.com for more information.
  • Dubuque, DuMa Biennial. Deadline March 29. Entry fee $40 for three pieces. Juror Laura Burkhalter, Des Moines Art Center.
Also at the DuMa are two exhibits that might interest you. Virtual tours are available for both. One is “Portraits of the Pandemic”. It is a group show by artists in the Dubuque area and will be up until February 7th. The other is  “Up Down and Through” by Nichole Gronvold Roller also until February 7.  These are interesting polygonal canvases painted in geometric kaleidoscopic shapes. There will be a free artists talk on January 20. Check the DuMa website for details.

Let’s all get out more! I snapped this picture on my way to Washington IA to pick up my artwork from the “Small Works” show. The drive through the lovely countryside was a so refreshing. The next show at Art Domestique will be a group show of work by area photographers.

Life DrawingWell friends, that’s about all from me this month. I miss seeing you at our life drawing drop in and classes but maybe we can start up again in a few more months. Until then enjoy looking in on this life drawing class.

Note to Artists:
PLEASE send me any news you would like to share about your art or work you are doing. Otherwise, I won't have a single thing to write about next month! Click here to contact Beppie Weiss with your event suggestions.
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--John McGlinn

In the Studio

Staying current with action in the high-end auction market, we need to have a look at a top ten video from the November 20, 2020 Christie's auction: important paintings, extravagant prices, big spenders, loads of oohs and aahs. Sorry about the ads; from Star Arts.
Christie's Top Ten Nov 2020

In this video a wonderful Rembrandt painting is analyzed for authenticity and we learn the complications that arise in the quest for certainty. Just so happens to be one of my favorite paintings, so I relish the investigation's details. Maybe you will too.
Rembrandt or Not?

Japanese painting, prints, and pottery are wonderful examples of pleasurable art viewing experiences based on a different esthetic than ours. Called "Wabi-sabi", it  is more about imperfection and nature's influence than about complete control of the medium. From the BBC and worth a few minutes read, in my humble opinion. I've been a life-long fan, just had not seen this term nor read the author's personal description before.
Wabi-sabi, a Japanese Esthetic
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--Phil Beck
This month we celebrate the birthday (Jan.28) of an American artist with a special connection to Iowa City—Jackson Pollock, whose groundbreaking Mural (1943) has been a part of the University of Iowa’s art collection for 70 years. It left the area when the 2008 flood destroyed the old art museum and later underwent long-overdue conservation work at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The results are reported to be spectacular, but it won’t be until the projected opening of the new UI Stanley Museum of Art in 2022 that Iowans will be able to see for themselves. It’s been on tour in the U.S. and around the world for the past few years, astonishing viewers and bringing the incredible story of its creation and migration to Iowa to a new, international audience. For the moment, we’ll have to make do with filmic representations.

ArtiFactory began its commemoration of movies about artists in 2018 with a free screening at FilmScene of Pollock, the superb 2000 biographical film directed by and starring Ed Harris as the Abstract Expressionist painter who pioneered drip “action painting.” One of the best artist biopics out there, Pollock portrays the painter’s rise from obscurity to fame in the years after World War II, along with his painfully co-dependent relationship with wife and fellow painter Lee Krasner. Harris;s performance is intense and authentic, expertly channeling his subject’s artistic fervor and emotional suffering. He did all the painting seen in the film as well (the foundation in charge of Pollock’s works did not cooperate with the filming).

Just as compelling is Marcia Gay Harden, winner of that year’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Krasner, the long-suffering wife whose own career is put on hold while she supports her husband through depression, alcoholism, and affairs until he finally succumbs to his demons and dies drunk behind the wheel in a car accident. He was 44 years old. Harris’s wife, actress Amy Madigan, adds flair with a brief but colorful turn as Pollock’s patron, Peggy Guggenheim, to whom Iowans must forever be grateful for having gifted the remarkable Mural to the university in 1951.

That gift is profiled in Jackson Pollack’s Mural: The Story of a Modern Masterpiece, an elegant and engrossing hourlong account of the history, conservation, and cultural importance of this painting, which helped change the direction of modern art. Directed by local documentary filmmaker Kevin Kelley, Mural was broadcast on PBS in 2016 after its premiere here in Iowa City. Attendees of ArtiFactory’s monthly series of Sunday art talks, “Art in the Afternoon” (held at The Center downtown, temporarily on Zoom) might remember Kelley’s November 2018 presentation in which he recounted his experiences and answered questions about the making of this absorbing film.

Last but not least is Jackson Pollock ’51 (1951), a 10-minute documentary by German photographer Hans Namuth, in which Pollock is shown demonstrating his dynamic technique first on a canvas outdoors and then on a sheet of glass placed over the camera so that the audience experiences its creation from the “canvas’s point-of-view.” The effect is one of lying on the floor and being painted over by the artist.

This famous little film’s impact was far greater than its short length would suggest. Namuth’s earlier still photos of Pollock painting had helped him become noticed. ‘51 spread his fame even further and proved to the world that “drip” painting wasn’t mere child’s play, as some critics had accused it of being, but a serious, disciplined form of artistic creation. Jackson’s movements around the outdoor canvas are deliberate and dancelike, and his supple gestures with the brush “splatter” the paint across the glass and screen in lines and shapes of startling originality that burst with his creative energy. Unfortunately, the filming conditions were tense and led to a violent argument between Pollock and Namuth afterward, during which Pollock began to drink again after nearly two years of abstinence. His alcoholism ran unchecked after that, leading to his early, tragic demise. Check out this film, which can be found on YouTube. It’s well worth your investment of 10 minutes!
Seen any of these films?  Tell us what you think of them, or suggest others not covered in the newsletter. Click here to contact Phil Beck with your movie comments or suggestions.
Jackson Pollock on Film:
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Monica Correia is Associate Professor and head of the 3D Design Program at the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History.  She received her “Cum Laude” Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and her MFA degree in 3D Design from the University of Iowa.  Before moving to the US, she taught at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro School of Architecture.

She’s had exhibitions at several art and design venues, including “London Design Fair,” “100% Design: Emerging Brands,” and “DesignJunction”, in London, UK; “EDIT DesignJunction” in Milan, Italy; “International Contemporary Furniture Fair” (ICFF) in New York City; and “BIO.23: Biennial of Design Show” in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her pieces have also been displayed at “Salão Design Casa Brasil,” “Abiplast Design Award,” and “Liceu de Design Award” in Brazil; “The Skin of Corian®” in Milan, Italy; the Krasl Art Center ArtLab in Saint Joseph, MI; Chico Art Center, CA; and the Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art, KS, among others.  She’s also designed interiors for stores and shopping malls in Brazil and Portugal. 

Under her leadership, Iowa’s 3D Design Program was awarded the prestigious “ICFF Editor’s Award for Best School” in New York City in 2015. Together with her students, she’s received the distinguished “SOFA CONNECT” award for best design environment in Chicago in 2014, 2015 and 2019.  

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Art in the Afternoon on YouTube

Recordings of the the recent Art in the Afternoon programs on Zoom are now available on the ArtiFactory YouTube channel.

Watch on YouTube

We have several needs for volunteers.

If you are interested in helping keep the arts alive in Johnson County. Please click here for more details.
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