Iowa native Grant Wood may be known best for his painting “American Gothic,” but the artist created several beautiful pieces of work, ranging from paintings to sculptures. Wood died of cancer at the age of 51 in 1942. “American Gothic” – which depicts a farmer and either his wife or daughter (depending on whom you ask) – remains a national classic. The original hangs on display at the Chicago Art Institute, but the Figge Museum in Davenport is home to several of his works.
Wood is one of several international artists with works on display at the riverfront museum. The Figge is a short walk from the Mississippi River. The location adds to its elegance as a Midwestern charm. Among other notable American artists at the museum are Andy Warhol and Frederic Remington.
The Figge presents artwork from several collections, including American, European, Latin American, Haitian and Asian. The American collection dates to the colonial period.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture is appreciated through a display, which highlights the use of furniture, office equipment and glass in his work.
I enjoyed the Haitian art. The collection features paintings, sculptures and decorative boxes. The boxes stood out to me for their vibrant colors.
The Figge hosts special exhibits, which are at the museum for a short time. The limited exhibits have featured a collection of pieces from the “Wizard of Oz” movie, World War I posters and artifacts, as well as Iowa sports. “MAIZE,” which features recycled plastic containers as Iowa cornstalks, runs through Sept. 24th.
The Figge is the mainstay of the city’s annual art festival, which is usually held the first weekend of May. Hundreds of artists from around the Midwest offer their wares for thousands of people visiting the three-day event. It’s impressive to see the types of works being created around the region, from spray paint art to blown-glass pieces.
Davenport has an interesting public art scene, as well. Near the Figge is a sculpture, which honors the Irish immigrants of the area. Two large stone pieces were imported from County Donegal in Ireland.
A block away, a sculpture depicts eagles in flight. The 1998 piece is part of a concerted effort by Quad City Arts. The Quad Cities are among several communities around the Midwest that work to create an inviting art scene, which helps attract visitors, as well as local respect.
We are fans of public art and Davenport is doing its part to help the Quad Cities. The Figge Museum is a key player in providing a vibrant art scene, in my view. The museum, which offers free admission, is one of the best in the Midwest.