If you drive down U.S. Highway 30 through Cedar Rapids as you head into Illinois, you’ll see the very prominent work of artist Mark Benesh, who is also known locally as the kindergarten through 8th grade art teacher at Lisbon Community Schools and talented mural creator.
Benesh re-created Grant Wood’s American Gothic on a barn just east of Palisades-Kepler State Park.
Grant Wood painted his American Gothic in 1930 and it now resides at the Art Institute of Chicago. The house featured in the original still stands in Eldon, Iowa, and is often used as a backdrop for tourists that seek to insert themselves into what has become an oft-copied cultural icon. It is said that Wood’s dentist was the inspiration for the farmer in the painting, while his sister, Nan, served as inspiration for the farmer’s wife.
The barn was featured as part of the 50 States Project, a year-long photography initiative that sought to collect images representing the topics of people, habitat, landscape, industry and entertainment. Photographer Sandy Dyas of Iowa City represented the Hawkeye State.
Benesh has several additional murals in and around Mount Vernon. With any luck I’ll snap some more photos on my next visit.