Charles H. MacNider Museum

Mason City, IA



People Watchers


An exhibit selected from the permanent collection of the Charles H. MacNider Art Museum, Mason City, Iowa, titled People Watchers, will be showing in the Museum's Weston Room April 13-May 21, 2000. It will include original etchings, drawings, lithographs, and paintings produced by four 20th century American artists who became known for their poignant observations of their fellow man engaged in ordinary, day-to-day activities. (left: Reginald Marsh (1898-1954),Couple Seated in a Fun-Ride Car,1946, egg tempera on paper)

The four artists represented in the exhibit are Isabel Bishop (1902-1988), Adolf Dehn(1895-1968), Reginald Marsh (1898-1954), and Grant Wood (1891-1942). Images will range from Bishop's Office Girls and Ice Cream Cones, to Dehn's Grandmother Reading, to Marsh's Couple Seated in a Fun-Ride Car, to Wood's Tree Planting. "

The concept for the exhibit grew out of the notion that everyone is " a people watcher," and that in this day and age it is done while sitting at the mall; waiting in the airport; standing in line; sitting in an audience; attending weddings, funerals, conventions, parties, graduations; walking the beach, etc. A lot of life is experienced while looking around during slack moments that many might regard as "down time." (right: Grant Wood (1891-1942), Tree Planting, 1937, lithograph)

Some individuals turn such episodes of "people watching" into a form of meaningful expression to be shared and communicated. Playwrights, poets, novelists, musicians, and visual artists, to name a few, have done this for centuries and the results of their creative efforts can tell a lot about everyday existence from the past to the present.

Isabel Bishop focused her attention on New York City subjects, particularly on working girls and some of their more informal moments. Adolph Dehn, who grew up on a farm in Minnesota, once said, "I am crazy about life and want to have as much of it as I can." His work reflects his travels and broad range of experiences. Paris-born Reginald Marsh often portrayed what he saw on the streets and in the theaters of New York City as well as in crowds of people engaged in recreational activities. Grant Wood, Iowa's most famous artist, retained the flavor of the Midwest and rural settings in most of his work. (left: Isabel Bishop (1902-1988), Snack Bar, 1959, etching)


Read more about the Charles H. MacNider Museum in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

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