Dubuque Museum of Art

Dubuque, IA



8/26/04 RL note: At the time of publishing of this article the Museum had a previous URL which was misused by a third party and caused the Museum to obtain the present Web address. We have substituted the current URL at the Museum's request.


Ellen Wagener


Organized by the Dubuque Museum of Art, and on exhibit through June 15, 2001, the Museum presents "Ellen Wagener."

Dewitt, Iowa artist, Ellen Wagener presents the agrarian landscape of Iowa in pastel. Wagener records the changing character and patterns of the working-land transformed by seasons, planting and harvesting. The affect of turned soil and the various stages of plant growth on the color and pattern of the land, offers Wagener endless opportunities for color experimentation and compositional choices.

(above: My Own Private Iowa, 1998, pastel)

Ellen A. Wagener exhibitions include: New American Paintings, The Open Studio Press, Walker Art Center, Milwaukee, WI, 2000; Iowa Artists, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, 1999; Iowa Artists, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, 1997; DMA Biennial, Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, IA, 1997; Iowa Artists, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA, 1996. Her works are in many private and public collections including: Mastercard Corporation, New York, NY; Pioneer Hi-Bred Corporation, Des Moines, IA; Maytag Corporation, Newton, IA; Oxychem Corporation, Dallas, TX; European Acquisitions Bank, Zurich, Switzerland

Artist Statement

I became interested in landscape painting because there were no confines, except the edge of the paper and an ever-changing display of color, rhythm, and texture outside my front door. Landscape painting is a method that expresses my inner reaction to and reverent feelings for nature. I look for connections between things, how one color flows into another, the way in which forms engage and separate, how one point in space influences another. The changes focused along the horizon are constant; they are governed by the seasons, the weather, or the cyclical nature of the agrarian landscape. The subtle variations create a certain splendor inherent only to the Midwest landscape. I am seduced by the direct sensual colors and geometric patterns of the cultivated land/garden.
I convey in my paintings what is most pleasurable to me, such as discovering tenuous beauty in spontaneous cloud formations, and the repetition of endless corn and soybean rows captured on a rolling landscape. The process begins with a "drive-by-shooting" and a sketchbook. I make large pastel paintings in the studio using the photographs, detailed notes, finished smaller sketches, and memory of a given place. The paintings reflect the process of combining gathered information on site with my memory and intuitive response to a particular place and time. My paintings are about a presence, or a sense of place, rather than a specific site. They offer the viewer an opportunity for a second glance, something often missed while traveling the highway in a climate-controlled car.


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