Faces of Iowa

Touring exhibit opens at Blanden Memorial Art Museum

Beginning in the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, Iowa State University 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 and is celebrated through this statewide touring exhibition Faces of Iowa State.

Faces of Iowa State opened Aug. 4 at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum and will be on view through Oct. 13.

“Portraits are more than simply a record; they illuminate intelligence, importance, virtue, beauty, taste and other qualities of the portrayed person as seen through the eye of an artist,” said Lynette Pohlman, director and chief curator for University Museums. “By celebrating these people, this exhibition focuses on the diverse qualities that define the people of a great university. Faces of Iowa State portraits are in the University Museums’ Art on Campus Collection and continue the portrait tradition.”

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.

“The Blanden Art Museum is dedicated to showcasing artists from Iowa and the Midwest,” Blanden Director Eric Anderson said. “Rose Frantzen’s amazing portraits are an example of the talent and passion found in Iowa. The Blanden is honored to be a part of this project.”

Faces of Iowa State is organized by University Museums with major support from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Human Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, ISU Extension and Outreach, University Library, Office of the Vice President for Research, and University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames.

About the artist

Rose Frantzen was born, raised, and returned to Maquoketa and the rural lifestyle and landscape continue to provide inspiration for her paintings. She attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the Palette & Chisel Academy in Chicago, and the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut. After extensive traveling, she returned to Maquoketa and purchased the old city hall with her parents, renovating the building and creating a large gallery with extensive studio space.

Within her newly developed studio, Frantzen’s Portrait of Maquoketa began as a project to document the people of her hometown and developed into 180 portraits which were then exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Pictured: Grace Obata Amemiya by artist Rose Frantzen.