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An Iowa artist connection that leads to New York

This year was an exciting one for a certain painting in our gallery. Early Council Bluffs by painter and pioneer George Simons was featured in the book Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables compiled by Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. This book was released to supplement the exhibition of the same name.

One of Grant Wood’s inspirations was Simons’ work and The Durham is lucky enough to have two Simons paintings hanging in our “Arts in Omaha” gallery. In 1927, Wood and Edgar Britton were commissioned by Eugene Eppley to decorate two private dining rooms in Eppley’s Hotel Chieftain in Council Bluffs, one of which was called a Pioneer Room. This mural was based on the painting and sketches of Early Council Bluffs. It is very special that art created around 1850 would be an inspiration to another Iowa artist creating a mural in the same town, but over 75 years later.

The publication places The Durham painting’s image side by side what it inspired:

George Simons Painting

Mural from the Pioneer Room

Mural from the Pioneer Room

Early Council Bluffs

Early Council Bluffs Painting

This is a wonderful example of how a museum’s objects can have life outside the building’s walls.

Thank you for reading and see you next time,


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