|curated by Todd Behrens
|Sioux City Art Center
The Sioux City Art Center has its ancestral roots in the Sioux City Society of Fine Arts. Founded in 1914, the Society’s members were united in their effort to promote the arts in Sioux City. For more than twenty years, the Society served in the capacity of an art center, presenting exhibitions of great art, scheduling programs, conducting classes and workshops, and amassing a permanent collection of art.
When the WPA (Works Progress Administration) was formed in 1935 in response to the Great Depression, the Society’s leaders began a campaign to make Sioux City the home of a federally funded art center. In 1937 they succeeded, and on February 20, 1938, the Sioux City Art Center opened its doors to the public. It continues today as a partnership between the City of Sioux City and private supporters.
Immediately after the opening of the Art Center, the Society renamed itself the Art Center Association of Sioux City, an organization dedicated exclusively to raising funds in support of the projects of the Art Center. In that capacity, it donated its art collection to the Art Center. This initial gift of approximately 20 artworks represented the wide range of interests during the early 20th century in Sioux City: an 18th-century Italian engraving; a late Gothic sculpture from Europe; turn-of-the-century paintings and sculptures by European and American artists; artworks by local artists.
The permanent collection now totals more than 1,100 works with a focus on work produced by artists from the upper Midwest. A portion of the collection is on permanent view in spaces throughout the Art Center, with the Margaret Ann Martin Everist Permanent Collection Gallery serving as the focal point. Artworks from the 20th and 21st century are on display, with a special emphasis on works produced by local and regional artists. This gallery includes paintings, photographs, prints, and a few sculptures. Additional artworks from the 19th and early 20th centuries can be discovered in the Community Gallery, with local artists and nationally recognized artists such as George Inness and Max Weber represented. Sculptures made of a variety of materials are on display in the T. S. Martin Atrium on the first floor as well as in the Eldon and Regina Roth Circulating Hall on the third floor.
The third floor is also the location of the Art Center’s Grant Wood Corn Room Mural. Created in 1927 for the downtown Martin Hotel, the Corn Room Mural was commissioned by Eugene Eppley. He tapped the then relatively unknown artist Grant Wood to paint murals in his hotels that would bring a typical Iowan landscape to the hotel interiors. Decades later, the mural was covered by wallpaper only to be “rediscovered” in 1979. After conservation treatment, the mural was donated to the Sioux City Art Center and placed on permanent display in 2007.
Each artwork is accompanied by a label with information about the artist. Additional information on the artworks and the permanent collection is available at no charge to visitors through brochures on selected artists and a catalogue for the permanent collection.
Max Weber, The Farmhouse, 1927, oil on canvas, 18 x 21 inches
Sioux City Art Center Permanent Collection
Gift of Norm Waitt, Jr.
Weber was a true pioneer of American modern art in the early 20th century. At the time of the founding of the Society of Fine Arts in 1914, he was working in a Cubist style. In 1920, he moved to Long Island. There, he was inspired by the rural landscape to transition into a style influenced by Cezanne, one of the artists Weber revered above all others.