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Blanden exhibit is by former Fort Dodge artist

August 14, 2011
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Former Fort Dodge artist Joyce Blunk is coming home with a show for the Blanden Art Museum, an artist's talk on Thursday and an opening reception on Friday.

And, according to Margaret Skove, director of the Blanden, "the 47 diverse objects in the new exhibition of Joyce Blunk's work at the Blanden Art Museum are fascinating. Shark egg pods painted blue and iridescent fish heads, mouths opened with sharp teeth. Her work reflects master craftsmanship in beautiful hand-made cabinets."

Daughter of the late George and Bernice Blunk, of Fort Dodge, Joyce Blunk graduated in 1958. She attended high school art classes taught by Robert Halm and went on to get an undergraduate degree and then a master's degree in art from the University of Iowa, She has taught art at the high school and college levels, won numerous awards and prestigious artist residency placements Austria, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany and the United States.

"The University of Iowa has one of the best in the nation art departments," Blunk said. "It's a ticket for people, a good education."

Her brother and sister-in-law, Glenn and Marilyn Blunk, still live in Fort Dodge, and it was from him that she got the idea for using fish heads in her work.

"My brother fishes," she said. "I was visiting him one day, and he had some of the fish heads - they were large - nailed to his woodshed. They were fascinating. They were aged, leathery looking. I brought them home and I kept them for a long spell. I painted them, then covered them with a clear plastic."

Fact Box

If you go:

WHO: Blanden Art Museum.

WHAT: Artist talk and opening reception for "Joyce Blunk: Painting and Assemblage."

WHEN: Artist's talk is 3 p.m. Thursday; opening reception is 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.

WHERE: At the museum, 920 Third Ave. S.

THE reception is free and open to the public.

The Blanden exhibit of Blunk's work spans almost 40 years, from 1971 to 2010, Skove said. "The work literally takes the detritus, rubble and flotsam and other discarded bits, and is painstakingly and thoughtfully assembled into visual communication describing physical environments, emotions and intellectual logic sets. The common ground of everyday objects generates multiple associations and linkages within each work.

"Think of these things: glass tubes, sawdust, dried shark egg pods washed up on a coastal beach, seaweed, twigs and lint. So many intriguing things are reconfigured. Some of the objects have been softly polished with rich tones of vibrant violet-red and tarnished metal glinting among the pieces."

Blunk has imagined, then created fully engaged works combining painting and assemblage, Skove said. It's a simple thing for her.

"While painting and drawing feature prominently in all my work, I have long been especially interested in working with three-dimensional objects," Blunk said. "Early in my career I began removing items from still-life arrangements, altering them in various ways and physically attaching them to my paintings. That approach evolved to incorporating objects into mixed-media paintings or placing them in sculptural collages I display on shelves or in wooden boxes, most of which I have designed and hand-built. Much of the work still derives from my continuing interest in the still-life genre."

She said in recent years her box constructions "have become quite architectural, a development that adds to the message of the interior rather than just framing or containing it. Some of the boxes show my interest in introducing an element of deep space by incorporating the illusion of distant landscapes beyond a window. A contrast is created between the romantic beauty of the landscape and the starker, unsettling reality of the interior. Most of these pieces show lush mountains at the changing of seasons and at a time of day when the light is moody and transitional. The predominant feelings, for me, are nostalgia, yearning and a great melancholy."

Joyce Blunk lives in the mountains of Asheville, N.C. She has lived in North Carolina for more than 30 years.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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