Digital Photo Composites

Denis Hagen

East Gallery

September 28 - December 21, 2019


Saturday, September 28th from 3:00pm - 5:00pm 

Artist Lecture at 4:00pm

Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres provided

Artist Statement

These are original digital photograph composites. They are not planned or staged, but situations are found, captured and whole photographs are combined in Photoshop.


It is my intention to create images unlike those I’ve seen before, break as many rules as possible, encourage flaws and explore colors, shapes, lines and textures. There is no formula. I find the amorphic figures interesting and mysterious, as there may not be any sense of who they are, where they are or what they are doing. However, my personal favorites are the more nonobjective abstract images.


Digital has been a new source of creative exploration for me, resulting in shapes and color combinations I would not have otherwise considered. There is always the surprise of discovery, the search for something unique, and the irony of making photos that may not eventually resemble photographs.

Drawing Inspiration

Drawings from the Collection 

2nd Floor Gallery

November 20 - December 30, 2019

“You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh." 

                                                                                                                      John Singer Sargent


Drawing inspiration through line and mark making is a bedrock of most great art. Sketches are the note taking of visual artists. Artists from all disciplines use sketches to figure out a subject, composition, and/or generate visual thoughts on existing work. These types of drawings are full of energy with a direct path to the artist's mind and eye. This rapid expressionistic drawing is usually never intended as a finished work. Instead, it is viewed as part of the process that helps build an understanding of form, light, and space.

This exhibit highlights sketches from the Permanent Collection that represents both local and world acclaimed artists from multiple centuries. Viewers will see each artist's individuality as it presents itself in every mark that exists on the paper.   In addition, they will be able to notice the difference between pencil, charcoal, and ink. 

The Blanden encourages you to explore your artistic expression – create a quick sketch of a work found in the one of the museum’s exhibits, in the space provided here. 

Be inspired!

Our Town: Reclaiming the Narrative

Curated by Lenore Metrick-Chen, Art History Professor at Drake University

2nd Floor Gallery

October 1 - November 19, 2019

About the Exhibit

This exhibit celebrates the works of people whose individual choices and agency have led them to civic engagement and community building. Their initial act may have been solitary, but their contributions have mattered. 


“Our Town” is not just a display and showcase of history – it is structured for memory recall with aims of reframing history, producing a new understanding of both the past and present.


The exhibit features video interviews, newspaper articles, and artwork. This exhibit allows the viewer to see and experience community change from different perspectives and appreciate the contributions of all citizens.


Support for this exhibit was provided by Humanities Iowa, Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust, The Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation and Members.

Present / Tense

Tom & Malayka Gormally

East & 2nd Floor Galleries

June 22 - September 14, 2019


Saturday, August 10th from 3:00pm - 5:00pm 

Artist Lecture at 4:00pm

Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres provided

Artist Statements

Present / Tense is both a meditation on our extended family and an exploration of the contemporary challenges of human connection in this cultural moment.

In the East Gallery, three of Tom’s sculptures memorialize the passing of his father, William “Bud” Gormally, a native of Fort Dodge. Bud was a powerful person - the leader of the Gormally family tribe. These sculptures pay homage to his initial anxiety and subsequent acceptance, dignity, and bravery in his final journey. Several of Malayka’s paintings focus on Gormally family reunions, particularly the family’s front-lawn farewell ritual. The scattered clusters of family members remind the artist of the broader meaning of the family in the historical art canon.

In the 2nd Floor Gallery, Tom’s Fox Series addresses the ever-increasing divisiveness and level of vitriol in American society; with this series, he aims to inspire dialogue and help bridge the widening gap in our culture. Tom approaches the issue in a way similar to how he imagines a shaman would deal with this disturbance, by creating effigies to dispel the negative influences. He combines this effigy representation with a folk-like carving style, original fabrications, and inviting light elements to create apt idioms for the current moment.

Alongside Tom’s work in the 2nd Floor Gallery, Malayka’s portraits focus on two groups of immigrants, the first being members of the Ethiopian Community in Seattle, a nonprofit, community organization. The second group was inspired by Malayka’s visit to an office of the International Rescue Committee during a day-long event for immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship. Malayka’s father was an immigrant, and she was inspired to develop this project as a counter-statement to anti-immigrant policy and sentiment.

A Consumer's Digest

Emily Newman

2nd Floor Gallery

May 4 - June 15, 2019


Saturday, May 4th from 3:00pm - 5:00pm 

Artist Lecture at 4:00pm

Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres provided


Artist Statement

My materials and content come from mass consumerism and how I view its effects on culture. Long journeys seated as a passenger engage my view from behind salt crusted windshields, consuming images from the side roads and cross country interstates.  I make note of favorite snack foods and backyard treasures. These hum drum experiences, marked by a photo or a collected object, become memories of a daily life lived as a mother and an artist.


Emily Newman is an artist and educator living in Des Moines, Iowa. She is an Assistant Professor of Art at Drake University. Emily holds a BFA in sculpture from Syracuse University and a MFA in studio art from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Originally from Colorado, she has called the Midwest home for almost 15 years. Emily utilizes a variety of subject matter, materials, and processes to make sculptures, drawings, and photographs exploring life in the 21st century as a woman, mom, wife, and artist. 


Silver Rod

Joe DeLuca

East Gallery

March 16 - June 15, 2019


Saturday, March 16th from 3:00pm - 5:00pm 

Artist Lecture at 4:00pm

Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres provided


Artist Statement

My work is a microcosm of the landscape and deals with my emotional and intuitive responses to my environment. I am fascinated by textured, weathered and time-worn objects and surface. The effects considered are those of light, atmosphere and shadow. Extended travels to Europe, especially Italy and Portugal have resulted in important motivational sources in my painting.

Italy is a place to better understand my heritage and an environment is which to seek and study high art and architectural treasures. The Etruscan civilization become a significant resource during the early 80’s.

In recent years, my interest shifted to Portugal, as it seemed a natural extension of my interests in antiquity. This, the oldest country of Europe, offers a powerful, rough presence and unpretentious charm.

I presently work on large-scale canvases and include such material as tar, cardboard, metal, wood and found objects. The works, if successful, give the appearance of ruined sections of old walls, excavated from a prior ancient setting. The surfaces often reveal multi-layered, richly developed textural patinas through the utilization and combination of paint, collage, inlay and found materials. Present images attempt to visually appear to mark a passage of time, as well as to describe the metaphysical nature of things. These considerations seem, at this time, to be reasons to dignify a particular space and maintain the delicate balance that life necessitates and demands.



Aaron Holz

2nd Floor Gallery

January 12 - April 6, 2019


Saturday, January 12th from 3:00pm - 5:00pm 

Artist Lecture at 4:00pm

Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres provided

Artist Statement

Cannonball uses the landscape and events surrounding Wounded Knee and Standing Rock as its inspiration and departure. The paintings do not serve as illustration for what transpired at each location, but use these places as a reference point in generating a distinct hybrid response to American ideas of expansionism and land. From a simple prairie rose to dense combinations of geometry, atmosphere and landscape, this work exists in a space that embraces the notion of paint being both something and not something. Working with indirect painting methods that use multiple layers and surfaces to create an image, the work resonates in an optically charged environment. The exhibition also includes “Symbol Shift,” Holz’s second single channel video that replaces the tonality of the paintings and replaces them with a rapid tempo of graphic symbols including flags, alchemical symbols, native pattern and design.



Aaron Holz is a Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. He has exhibited work throughout the country including four solo exhibitions in New York as well as international exhibitions in London and Basel, Switzerland. Reviews of his work have appeared in New York Arts Magazine, The Lincoln Journal Star, The New York Sun and The New York Times. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Sheldon Museum of Art, The University Art Museum at The University of Albany in addition to prominent private collections in Europe and the United States.


Curated group exhibition exploring the multiple concepts, approaches, and materials used in contemporary drawing that includes drawings by 15 Iowa Artists

East Gallery

January 5 - March 2, 2019


Saturday, February 9th from 3:00pm - 5:00pm 

Artist Lecture at 4:00pm

Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres provided

About the Exhibit

What is line? What is drawing in 2018? These are tough questions. This exhibition explores the multiple concepts, approaches and materials used in contemporary drawing. Drawing is exploration - artistic freedom to think instantly on the page. Artists use line to express what is seen, what is felt, what is real and what is imagined in the most minimal raw fashion. The least amount of information can express a dynamic complex wholeness that is simple, elegant, and beautiful.

Helen B. Mules, the Associate Curator of Drawings at the Met, believes drawing is a much bigger concept and has the power to stand on its own as a way to express and communicate to others. The use of line is a strong component of drawing, but drawing can also include the use of color, shading and other elements of the visual arts.

The history of drawing is as old as the history of humankind. People drew pictures even before they learned how to write. Like other art forms, drawing has changed and developed through history. Each new style grew out of the style that came before it.

Since the beginning of the 1900's, art has been liberated from past traditions. This means that the definition of drawing has also been expanded. It can be almost anything an artist wishes it to be. Today, artists continue to express and communicate through drawing; it is a primordial unspoken means of communication. This exhibit comes out of this expressive communicative approach. Selected artist explore the use of line in traditional drawings while others explore the expanding vocabulary of drawing and materials.

Working to the Zone

Doug Palmer

2nd Floor Gallery

October 6, 2018 - January 5, 2019


Saturday, October 6th from 3:00pm - 5:00pm 

Artist Lecture at 4:00pm

Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres provided

Artist Statement

I do not do realism.  I have done that. I find it fun inventing shapes, textures, patterns, colors using nature as a starting place.  Consequently, I see the environment differently than most people.  You can see it too. If you look and SEE. Most of my paintings are of places I have been, experiences I have had there.  I use acrylic paint in different ways – thinning it gives me a watercolor effect allowing me to apply it in a fluid and transparent way and applying it thickly so that I can create areas of opaque impasto texture. 


I received my BFA from Drake University. Graduate work from Drake and Iowa State University. As a professional, I have served on many committees and organizations involving art education, such as serving on the following:

  • State President, Art Educators of Iowa

  • State Art Chairman Parent, Teacher Association

  • President Webster County Pheasants Forever

  • National Accreditation Association

  • Student Teacher Supervisor, Iowa State Art Education Dept. 


After college, I taught at the k-12 grade level initially, and then taught classes at Iowa State.  I also taught adult and children classes at the Blanden.  It is exciting and gratifying to teach students to look, see, and discover the hidden, fun, and visual pleasures in their environment.  Many times this brings out revelations about themselves; their inner self comes out of hiding. 


I work to put my students in a frame of mind to open that door to the creative zone, to get out of the way, and let it happen.  Students continue to surprise me.  Many find that inner being and let it out to play. 

I hope you enjoy the exhibit and be ready – the inner you might come out to play!    

Perception of Nature

Deborah Zisko & Terry Dooley

East Gallery

September 8 - December 15, 2018


Artist Statement: Deborah Zisko

I paint the Midwest landscapes, because it gives me a chance to explore. As an artist, I use paper, board, and canvas as supports for this exploration. 

Artist Statement: Terry Dooley 

I have spent my adult life in Central Iowa where the trees are continuously challenging me to paint. I study them wherever I am whether walking or riding in the car. I try to notice the differences both in the seasons and in the species and paint them as a statement to both their place in nature and the environment. I notice how their distress helps form and shape them and their surroundings nurture them.


I enjoy the challenge of applying paint to paper in a medium where there is no black or white (watercolors). White is the paper and black is a mix of two colors.


 I have entered paintings in the State Fair, Hoyt Sherman and in art shows in central Iowa. I recently joined the Iowa Artists.


I enjoy painting the High Trestle Trail and bridge where I live in Madrid, Iowa and wildlife, trees and Des Moines architecture and seasons are beautiful with the changing color. This Exhibit is my way of sharing with you what I perceive.

Faces of Iowa State

Rose Frantzen

West Gallery

August 4 - October 13, 2018

About the Exhibit

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.

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.

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response the ISU portraits received during the State Fair Faces of Iowa State is a touring exhibition that seeks to share these magnificent paintings to sites across the state. The focus of Faces of Iowa State is to celebrate not only the tradition and the impact of portraiture at ISU, but also show the development of ISU as a story of democracy where the vision, dreams, and actions of individual people play a vital role in how our collective identity is shaped.


Jay Christensen

2nd Floor Gallery

July 14 - September 29, 2018



Thursday, August 2nd from 6:00pm - 8:00pm 

With a performance by Kris Karr

Refreshments and light hors d'oeuvres provided

Artist Statement

From the Plains of Iowa to the Glitzy Sunset Strip, an exhibit that delves into the dirty world of Rock'N'Roll through the lens of Jay Christensen.

Someone has to chronicle the decline of Western Civilization. Why not me?

These images come at great personal sacrifice. Countless hours spent in crowded clubs under challenging shooting conditions while being elbowed by rowdy leather-clad masses slinging drinks. Not to mention what all of this has done to my hearing. . . .

But nothing beats a Rock ‘N’ Roll performance up close. Seeing each speck of sweat fly off the artists’ faces and feeling the music’s grit and raw emotion is a moving experience.

In the end, it’s all about the performers. They don’t have to bare their soul, but they must bring the attitude.


920 3rd Avenue South

Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501


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