Beginning in the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, Iowa State University (ISU) made it a priority to commission and paint portraits. The commemoration of presidents, deans, accomplished faculty and heralded alumni strove to honor the college’s heritage and legacies. This tradition continues today with the active commissioning of portraits by departments and colleges all across ISU and is celebrated through this statewide touring exhibition Faces of Iowa State.
“Portraits are more than simply a record; they illuminate intelligence, importance, virtue, beauty, taste and other qualities of the portrayed person as seen through the eye of an artist,” said Lynette Pohlman, Director and Chief Curator for University Museums. “By celebrating these people, this exhibition focuses on the diverse qualities that define the people of a great university. Faces of Iowa State portraits are in the University Museums’ Art on Campus Collection and continue the portrait tradition.”
Painted on site Faces of Iowa State features the 39 portraits painted by Maquoketa artist Rose Frantzen. Frantzen's art has been featured nationally, including an exhibit of her Portrait of Maquoketa project at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition subjects were chosen by Iowa State University's colleges and select units. Portrait sitters included students, faculty, staff, alumni and individuals with close ties to the university.
“The Muscatine Art Center’s collection contains many portraits, mostly historic,” explains Director Melanie Alexander. “Hosting this exhibition makes it possible for visitors to view 21st century portraits and then explore the portraits in our collection by Henri Matisse, Mauricio Lasansky, John Mix Stanley, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and others from the last 175 years.”
Alexander continues, “I encourage those interested in visiting the exhibition to look up Rose Frantzen on YouTube, and watch one of time lapsed videos to truly appreciate the process of Frantzen’s technique.” Frantzen will give a demonstration at the Muscatine Art Center in late March for those who wish to see her work in real time.
Faces of Iowa State is organized by University Museums with major support from: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Human Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, ISU Extension and Outreach, University Library, Office of the Vice President for Research, and University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Faces of Iowa State opens February 15 at the Muscatine Art Center and will be on view through April 15, 2018. Visit https://www.museums.iastate.edu/art/exhibitions to see additional tour dates.
About the Artist
Rose Frantzen was born, raised, and returned to Maquoketa, Iowa, and the rural lifestyle and landscape continue to provide inspiration for her paintings. She attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the Palette & Chisel Academy in Chicago, and the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut. After extensive traveling, she returned to Maquoketa, Iowa and purchased the old city hall with her parents, renovating the building and creating a large gallery with extensive studio space.
Within her newly developed studio, Frantzen’s Portrait of Maquoketa began as a project to document the people of her hometown and developed into 180 portraits which were then exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
She has continued to paint Iowans as she has gained more success, including the remarkable dual portrait of George Washington Carver and Henry Wallace (Do you Know What’s Inside This Flower? George Washington Carver Mentors a Young Henry A. Wallace) commissioned by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. This painting depicts the young Henry Wallace in a moment of absolute concentration as he is in the midst of a lesson about plants from George Washington Carver.
Rose Frantzen’s lifelike and radiant examination of humans and our world bring together a long tradition of oil painting and portraiture with the skill and forward thinking of a 21st century artist.
About University Museums
University Museums is a distinctive organization that encompasses two art museums, a National Historic Landmark historic home museum, a sculpture garden, and one of the largest campus public art collections in the nation.
University Museums brings world-class exhibitions with educational programming to Iowa State University, actively acquires works of art to add to the more than 30,000 permanent collection objects, conserves and preserves collections, conducts and publishes curatorial scholarship, and fosters student engagement.
About the Muscatine Art Center
The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.