Solitude: Sioux City Camera Club

Robert Gillespie Sanddunes


November 7, 2020 - January 24, 2021

The Sioux City Camera Club was founded in 1899. The Camera Club and the Sioux City Art Center have had a close relationship since the first dedicated space for the Art Center opened in 1938. A major part of that relationship is the Camera Club working with the Art Center on frequent exhibitions of work by club members.

For this year’s exhibition, the Art Center and the Camera Club agreed upon “Solitude” as the theme for the photographers to consider. This led the photographers to reflect on the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on our lives over the past year. Mining their existing files or aiming their lenses at scenes of solitude, each photographer interrupted the theme in a unique way. Some found inspiration in solitary pursuits – reading a book, creating artwork, taking a stroll in the countryside. Others turned to the quiet of the night sky or the empty streets of the city for their inspiration. By turning inward to discover their own considered responses to solitude, the members of the Sioux City Camera Club encourage us to find our own create pursuits as we spend time alone.

The aims of the Sioux City Camera Club are the mutual education in the science and art of photography, and to promote and encourage advancement of its members in the knowledge and practice of photography. The Sioux City Camera Club is a member of the North Central Camera Club Council and the Photographic Society of America.  


Magnetic West: The Enduring Allure of the American West

239 Terry Evans Bison


November 6, 2020 - January 17, 2021

From the Mississippi River to the coast of California, America’s West has long been viewed as the birthplace of the American identity forged during the settlement of the region in the 19th century. The medium of photography has played a prominent role in the West’s development—often as a tool to promote the region as a “land of opportunity” and contributing to the myth of the region as an Edenic wilderness untouched by man. Beginning in the 1850s, photography came to document every aspect of Western life including the conflicts that arose as Indigenous communities were forced from their lands.

Some of the most significant photographers from the 20th century found their voice in the Western landscape, including Ansel Adams, Laura Gilpin, and Edward Weston. During the Great Depression photographers like Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, hired by the Farm Security Administration, documented rural and urban living conditions across the country. Appearing in newspapers and magazines at the time, their photographs revealed the plight of the unemployed and destitute, raising awareness and encouraging government action. This human centered approach with its increased interest in the documentary form would have an impact on later generations of photographers. It also countered, somewhat, the influence of Ansel Adams and his preference for sublime, unpeopled landscapes. Adams drew heavily on 19th century sensibilities found in the works of early photographers like Timothy O’Sullivan and Carleton Watkins. O’Sullivan, Watkins, and others served on the Government topographical surveys of the 1860s and 70s. Their images often focused on unpeopled and idyllic wilderness, at a time when Native Americans were being removed from the land.

The generation that followed Adams forged new ground, turning away from the pristine landscape to the built environment and the places where the two intersected. Photographers like Robert Adams, Eve Sonneman, and Henry Wessel, favored a more realistic, less abstract view of the world, finding interest in their everyday surroundings. The social and political movements of the 1960s and 70s inspired yet another group of photographers like George Rodriguez, Elaine Mayes, and Nacio Jan Brown who focused on the antiwar protests of Los Angeles and Berkeley, the farm worker’s movement, and the Summer of Love. Photography as an art form was no longer fixated on the landscape.

In the decades since, Black, Latino, and Indigenous artists have come to the fore to challenge the myth of the “West That Was” born in the literature of the 19th century and captured in photographs and Hollywood films. Photographers like Cara Romero, Wendy Red Star, and Zig Jackson have used photography to confirm the modern Indigenous identity of the West. Others like Mike Jones, Star Montana, and Masumi Hayashi have created bodies of work born from a desire to make their experiences and communities visible, giving agency to the marginalized and expanding the view of the West as it is today.

Sioux City Artists in the Permanent Collection



Opened September 28, 2019; ongoing

During its more than 160 years as a city, Sioux City has been a place for serious business interests from the stockyards and meatpacking plants to technological, medical, and educational facilities. The arts, too, have played a vital role in the continuity of Sioux City’s success. The continual growth of local cultural institutions shows that as industrious as Sioux Cityans are, they understand the value of sustaining our cultural traditions. By melding individual creativity with the citywide desire for progress, the arts have been able to unite business, residential, and municipal goals in imaginative and accessible ways.
Behind this effort, of course, lies the artists themselves. This exhibition of works from the Art Center’s permanent collection brings together many artists who have at one time called Sioux City “home.” These artworks are in many ways the most important part of the Art Center’s mission of maintaining a collection of art for the people of Sioux City. We hope you enjoy this opportunity to view this beautiful part of Sioux City history.

Grant Wood

grant wood the corn roomFor the first time since 1992, Grant Wood’s Corn Room mural is shown in its entirety. An exhibition gallery was created in the summer of 2007 in the third-floor H. H. Everist Gallery for long-term display of the mural, while at the same time allowing the remaining Jensen and Terra galleries to be used for changing exhibitions. The special installation of the Grant Wood mural was funded by a donation from Bill Turner.

The Corn Room mural was one of four murals commissioned by Omaha businessman Eugene Eppley for his hotels in Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Sioux City. Originally part of the historical Martin Hotel, the Corn Room was created by Grant Wood in 1926, then lost for decades under paint and old wallpaper, only to be rediscovered in 1979.

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