Our Iowa Heritage Index: Iowa City Artists.

As you can see, our growing website Our Iowa Heritage covers a lot of time (pre-1800 to the present) and a lot of people. We’ve written about famous people and the not-so-famous ones as well. Yet, despite a person’s prominence (or lack of it), everybody has a story. And as you read our posts, you’ll hopefully discover that everyone’s story is a good one. So, in order to better find these good stories and details surrounding them, we’ve added this INDEX of HISTORICAL ACCOUNTS to help you along the way. Enjoy your journey.

Our Iowa Heritage: An Introduction. We might suggest you start here! Here’s how & why I got started collecting stamps, coins, and other Iowa memorabilia.

George H. Yewell – Iowa City’s Pioneer Artist. Eleven-year-old George Yewell came to Iowa City with his widower mother to live with family, and over the next decade, George fell in love with his new hometown. At age 17, he began his journals of both words and art, sketching Iowa City scenes along the way, and by the 1850’s, this artist was well on his way to becoming recognized on both sides of the Atlantic, but this Hawkeye never lost his love for Iowa, leaving us with a valuable portfolio of Iowa City sketches – some of the earliest pictures we have of our beloved hometown.

Iowa City – Through The Eyes Of George Yewell. In 1854, George Yewell was commissioned to provide twelve original sketches of prominent sites in Iowa City. An area banking corporation took those sketches, combined them with the map work of J.H. Millar, and the result was a beautiful decorative map. Today, this map – Iowa City And Its Environs – provides us with one amazing look at our community as it was in the mid-1800’s.

Isaac A. Wetherby – One Artist with Many Dreams. An artist specializing in portraits, Isaac Wetherby was enthralled by the commercial possibilities of daguerreotyping. As one of the first Bostonian artists to experiment with this new form of art, Wetherby used his “dags” to serve his artwork, painting oil portraits from his photographs. After a successful stint in Louisville, Kentucky, Wetherby began dreaming of coming west, and by the mid-1850’s, Isaac had opened his photography studio in Iowa City – soon to become our city’s most prolific 19th-century photographer.

Iowa City – Through The Eyes Of Isaac Wetherby. In July 1854, Isaac Wetherby arrived in Iowa City, opening a photography shop in a small second-floor office on Clinton Street. Throughout that first fall in Iowa City, when he wasn’t pre-occupied with customers, Isaac would venture about Clinton Street, experimenting with “non-professional” outdoor pictures – photos which, at the time, had little market value. But today, these outdoor shots have become Wetherby’s best known photographs, and the most history-laden pictures of early Iowa City.

The Wonderful World of SUI Colors – Black & Golden. In 1887, a handful of SUI students started asking some tough questions like ‘why do we not have any school colors?’ or ‘why do other colleges have a school song and we’re just singing about corn?’ Good questions, don’t you think? Join us for the colorful story about how SUI answered these burning questions.

Fred W. Kent – Continuing The Photographic Tradition. Fred W. Kent was best known as a versatile and talented photographer who documented everything from family and community life to landscape and natural vistas in Iowa City. Arriving here as a student in 1911, Fred spent the next 50+ years serving our community through his amazing gift of photography.

Fred W. Kent’s Iowa City Classics. From 1911 into the 1970’s, Fred W. Kent was on campus – taking photographs of people, places, and things. As early as the 1920’s, he even dared to fly overhead to get the shots he wanted. Today, Fred’s collection has over 50,000 photographs. Here are just a handful spanning his seven decades in Iowa City.

Wetherby & Kent – Two Generations – Two Cameras – One City. Here’s our salute to Iowa City’s finest photographers – Isaac A. Wetherby and Fred W. Kent. Both were armed with a single camera. One strolled the streets of Iowa City during the middle part of the 19th century. The other walked, drove, and yes, even flew over our fair city during the first half of the 20th century. Together, they snapped over 60,000 pictures along the way.

Grant Wood – Iowa’s Iconic Artist. Born in 1891 on a farm near Anamosa, Grant Wood went on to become one of the world’s best-known artists. Working out of a small studio located above a Cedar Rapids mortuary garage, Wood created one of the most familiar images in 20th-century American art: the iconic American Gothic.

Mildred W. Pelzer – An Iowa City Artist. Meet Mildred Pelzer and her amazing collection of Iowa-related artwork. A student of Grant Wood, Mildred gained fame with her oil paintings of flowers – with one of her pieces appearing on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens in July 1934. Later that year, her eight 4′ x 12′ murals depicting important events in Iowa City history debuted in the lobby of the Jefferson Hotel – becoming a city-wide favorite for many years.

The Mildred Pelzer Iowa City Murals. In 1934, the Jefferson Hotel commissioned this Iowa City artist to create eight murals that represented our rich Iowa City heritage, focusing on the theme of transportation. For fifteen years, these murals were proudly displayed in the hotel lobby until a ill-fated remodeling effort nearly sent these beauties to an early demise. Today, five have been rescued and remain as a beautiful tribute to both Mildred Pelzer and Our Iowa Heritage.

Iowa Millennium Art – The 2000 Poster. In 2000, Des Moines Register political cartoonist Brian Duffy created a Hawkeye masterpiece depicting 58 iconic people or places with Iowa connections. Check it out – see how many you can recognize?

My Iowa Art – The Collection. So, none of these collectibles will ever be placed in a museum, but for me, they are treasures that speak of my love of Iowa, Iowa City, the University of Iowa, and everything Hawkeye.


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