"California was almost entirely a dream, a dream vague but deep in the minds of
a westering people."
The Year of Decision 1846
California has a connection to dreams and a laid-back attitude. Many artists have captured this vast landscape over time, creating images of the west's untamed territory. This exhibit is a contemporary manifesto by artists and highlights a raw and unique recording of a cultural landscape seen directly through a camera lens.
This collection presents a portfolio highlighting the individual artist's view of a changing landscape. Each image is ripe with the potential for a statement about contemporary California and contemporary photography.
California has supplied artists with a rich palette witnessed in the evolution of photographic images produced over 100 years. Over time, a record has been created that shows the enduring changes to what was called a pleasant land, transformed by imprints of the diverse aspirations, which outsiders carried to California and imposed upon it.
The west was once the untouched frontier, but now from years of settlement, it is one of America's most diversified cultural melting pots. An untamed rawness is found as cultures collide and are captured by these artists' images. They are visual poetry of a damaged dream, the destruction of the wilderness, and the untouched landscape.
The photographers utilized composition and framing to interpret images of shallow spaces and reflect the urban environment vs. the wide-open views from the past. California becomes a marketable dream found on a car lot full of the falseness of reality duct-taped and glued.
The photographs present an ironic dialog. A dialog of the California dream myth and the promise of beautiful landscape pitted against the noisy disenchantment of urban life that has been confronted by reality and human intervention. "New California Views" is a visual essay on a land that was once a wilderness turned into a multi-leveled cultural metaphor of life and a crossroads to the imagination of dreams.
Creating Unity: A Centennial Celebration
Works by Women Artists from 1890-Present from the Blanden Permanent Collection
January - December 30, 2021
About the Exhibit
Art inspires us to visit the concept of “Unity” and see ourselves as part of a bigger Universe.
- Leni Kae
Significant strength centers on unity. The universe is a perfect example of this strength. As we look out into the cosmos, everything seems to be in its place, doing what everything should be doing, harmony in the sky. As humans, there has always been a fascination with the stars and their steadfast qualities. On earth, we try to find and establish unity and order inspired by the universe. As human culture developed the concept of order/unity, this focus has changed history, art, and much more.
In this exhibit, the Blanden invites visitors to explore the concept of unity in multiple ways: Unity as a principle of art and design, Unity in the context of honoring the combined effort by American women that fought for a voice in Democracy, and unity as the collective creative vision of women artists.
Unity, as a principle of art, refers to how parts of artwork work together, the "Gestalt" – or the whole. Artists accomplish this whole through working and understanding the mechanisms of art. These mechanisms are the elements and principles, how they interact with each other, and the viewer's perception of the interaction. Unity, as it relates to history and creative output, has its roots in this basic understanding of the whole working together for a creative outcome.
This year America unites with celebrating American women that fought for a change and struggled to have a voice and input on US governance. Starting with the Progressive movement in 1890, American women rallied together to reform society and politics. The main objectives of this group were to eliminate problems caused by industry, urban living, immigration, and political corruption. The group's triumph came on August 18, 1920, with the signing of the 19th Constitutional Amendment. Unifying under a single voice is a powerful device used to accomplish great things and provides clear perceptions.
This exhibit showcases women artists whose works have been collected over the years and preserved in the Blanden Permanent Collection. By exclusively featuring women artists spanning centuries, subjects, and mediums, their works display a unified change in perceptions of an art world dominated by male artists. Museums all over the world are focusing on highlighting great women artists to rewrite the narrative, pulling back the years of darkness, and submitting to the world stage great artists.
Unity is accomplished in many ways. Within the setting of history and visual art, The Blanden's presentation offers engaging narratives and discourse which frame an environment of learning and understanding. At the heart of this simple understanding and perception is a connection to a powerful universe and one another.
Iowa Watercolor Society
2020 Annual Traveling Exhibit
Second Floor Gallery
February 6, 2021 - February 27, 2021
The Iowa Watercolor Society was organized in 1977 by a small group of enthusiastic watercolorists. IWS now celebrates well over 150 members and offers the opportunity for interested painters to network with artists statewide.
Each fall, the IWS sponsors an annual luncheon, award ceremony, and workshop. This is a juried exhibition with monetary awards. The IWS accepts entries in water media on watercolor paper. From this exhibit a traveling show is created that provides outreach around the state.
The well-attended and fun-filled three-day workshops, held three days prior to and three days following the annual meeting, are taught by nationally and internationally recognized instructors.