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Delineations of Structure: The Grid, Architecture and Perspective 

Selections from the Permanent Collection 

West Gallery

January - December 30, 2023

About the Exhibit

"We shape our buildings - thereafter, they shape us."

                                                                              - Winston Churchill. 


The need to build is a paramount requirement, a fundamental need to survive; it is also about the drive to leave a legacy of beauty and order. Structures of all shapes and sizes are signatures of culture and society. Like frozen music in space, they play for the viewer a song of age, the hopes of a people, and a    record of dreams. They are an art and a requirement. It is through the lens of a culture's buildings and dwellings that helps form historical understanding. Architecture is one way that a society can express itself, presenting a likeness to the world. The foundation of order and beauty that stand the test of time      structures define a longing for understanding.     


This exhibit brings together objects and works of art from the collection that     directly reflect these delineations in conjunction with more abstract and   conceptual depictions of structures and the grid. The artwork on display covers multiple periods, cultures, and styles. It is a testament to the excellent and rich assortment contained in the collection. Architectural history is an evolving account of human energy that spans centuries reaching back to ancient times, providing a global perspective. The construction of buildings, structures, and grids is more than the carving of stone or the placement of glass. It is about    understanding something bigger than ourselves, our place in the universe. Expressions of this understanding are witnessed through drawings, paintings, sculptures, and photographs of structures. Artists can reflect the spirit of time locked forever through the talent of the hand and the eye.    


Through the interaction of realistic depictions, abstractions, and conceptual forms, viewers can survey how the grid, architecture, and perspective have shaped our understanding of history, culture, and society. Structures are physical evidence of human change. The art inspired by this evidence reflects a          perspective boundary and is a witness to history.   



Selections from the Blanden Art Collection 

Second Floor Gallery

March 4 - June 17, 2023


“A good life is like a weaving. Energy is created in the tension. The struggle, the pull and tug are everything.”  – Jean Erikson


Works created using fibrous materials are part of the human lexicon. Artifacts using    textiles and weaving provide insight into culture and society from years past. From   clothing to baskets, tapestries and fiber materials are threaded with human existence. The idea that life is like weaving is an informative connection. The small elements of   living are brought together to create a life.

Fiber art is, by nature, an ambiguous category; it can be considered both a new and an old art form. As a craft fiber, use is practical. Still, the experimental nature can   also serve as beauty and an item to appreciate. In the 1960s, there was an intentional revolution in using fiber in creating artwork. The drive to elevate fiber art out of crafty categories into the arena of high art was taken on first by women artists seeking to be seen for the merit of their creations.


As fiber-based objects entered the lexicon of fine art, the dismantling or the                  diminishment of usefulness became stronger. In the hierarchy of art and craft, there is a strong relationship between dominance and subordination. An educated person could dilute the idea of craft vs. fine art into three thoughts; one is based on usefulness or lack of usefulness, two, who the work is associated with, and three, the use of materials.

There is an organic rawness related to fiber art. Often the materials are as they are with no manipulation. Yarn is yarn. Fabric is fabric. The materiality of the objects comes from the use of the material. Yarn woven over and overtakes on a physicality of space. As pieces of fabric are sewn together, they become a whole. Fiber beacons to be touched – countering the reality of interactions seen in an art museum. So the very notion of fiber art is a problem. Touch but don’t. The interactions with works such as these are formed out of mind and sensory recall.  


This exhibit the Blanden Art Museum brings together delightful examples of works that are both traditional and non-traditional in terms of materials and approach that are used in their creation.  Objects in this show are about the artist’s process of   making something beautiful from simple materials and expressing themselves. Hierarchy aside, art is about expression, an idea. It is about communication and    creating an object of beauty made by hand. Fiber art is about warmth and life, which relies upon our tactile memory and emotion.

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Land Changes 

Deborah Zisko 

East Gallery

February 11 - April 22, 2023


Directors Statement:

In a successful painting, everything is integral – all the parts belong to the whole. If you remove an aspect or element, you are removing its wholeness.

                                                                                                                      - Richard Diebenkorn


Lively colorful abstract paintings have a connection to nature and the Midwestern landscape. Deborah Zisko has a beautiful ability to capture the changing seasons through the lens of fields of color, shape, and line. Over the years, Deborah has slowly pulled away from pictorial landscapes to explore a more direct and intuitive painting style. Her new paintings have their roots in nature, but she can expand on her experience and feelings to create a personal reflection on the landscape. Deborah uses all this information and memory to start a painting. She then begins a conversation with the painted surface, allowing the painting to dictate the next mark or color placement. Her paintings are tectonic plates of color, line, and shape that remove one element, and the whole image falls apart. Deborah’s paintings feel like they were created instantly, masterfully painted as an immediate image. Suppose one were to connect with artists from history if they feel that, her work reflects the creations of Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Richard Diebenkorn, and Lee Krasner. The significant difference between the paintings of these modern masters and Deborah’s work is her intimate connection to the Iowa landscape, uniquely Midwestern.    



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Additional information forthcoming for the following:


  • TBD

    • May 6 - July 22, 2023​

  • Carmon Slater - Selected Works - East Gallery                             

    • Aug 5 - October 21, 2023

  • Michael Hassig - Piece by Piece - Second Floor Gallery                             

    • July 1 - Aug 19, 2023 

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