New book: Grant Wood’s Iowa: A Visitor’s Guide, by Wende Elliott ’90 and William Balthazar Rose *89 (The Countryman Press)

The authors: William Balthazar Rose *89 and Wende Elliott ’90 first met in a Princeton painting class in 1989. Later Rose, a British graduate student who was living in Tuscany, would visit Iowa to court Elliott, who was working on her creative writing M.F.A. at Iowa State University. During these visits, Rose and Elliott began collaborating on this book, much of which consists of a personal anecdotal record of their tours. Rose is a painter who exhibits in Italy, England, and the United States, and has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton. Elliott is a writer, organic farmer, and activist for organic and fair-trade food. This is their first book.
The book: Solving the problem of what to do while driving across the middle of America, this book identifies points of cultural interest along I-80 from Chicago to Omaha. In particular, Rose and Elliott provide a thoughtful, detailed exploration of the life and the historical context of Iowa artist Grant Wood — best known for his painting American Gothic — by discussing both his work and the landscape that inspired it. The book includes five itineraries, complete with self-guided museum tours, maps, color photos, and local ancillary attractions like regional art festivals and nature hikes.
Opening lines: “America is made up of heroes, known and unknown, real heroes, tragic heroes, and false ones. Grant Wood is without a doubt an American hero. He managed to overcome numerous obstacles and leave a lasting legacy for other artists and for all those seeking a defining light in a state with little or no previous cultural history. His story is, however, all too human and reveals a person of mixed talents with a complex and at times difficult personality.”
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