Lonely Planet Writer

American Gothic painting honoured with ingenious commemoration all over Iowa

It may well be America’s most famous painting … the severe couple staring intently, the man with a pitchfork in his hand.

Grant Wood’s sister Nan was the model for the female while a dentist posed as the man with the pitchfork.
Grant Wood’s sister Nan was the model for the female while a dentist posed as the man with the pitchfork.

Now to remember the 125th anniversary of the birth of Grant Wood, the man who painted the legendary American Gothic, the state of Iowa is planning an ingenious commemoration.

As part of the celebration, 25 life-sized fiberglass statues recreating the image in different and whimsical ways will pop up around the state.

Overalls is the Classic statue in front of NewBo City Market
Overalls is the Classic statue in front of NewBo City Market

Overalls All Over, who are behind the project, said: “It is one of the most familiar images in 20th-century American art and [it was] painted at 5 Turner Alley in Cedar Rapids.

“Local artists will create unique designs for each statue [and the] statues will be on parade from May through September 2016, culminating at the NewBo Arts Festival.”

The Lion Goes to the Theater Tonight will be located at Brucemore.
The Lion Goes to the Theater Tonight will be located at Brucemore.

Tourists will be encouraged to take photos with the American Gothic statues following the many visitors to the state that already dress up to recreate – or lampoon – the famous image.

A sneak preview of some of the six foot fiberglass likenesses have been posted on their official website to whet your appetite for a summer visit.

Among the more interesting variations are one with the farmer holding a giant love heart and another with the couple painted as two glasses of beer.

American Hipsters, will go near the McGrath Amphitheatre along the downtown riverfront.
American Hipsters, will go near the McGrath Amphitheatre along the downtown riverfront.

The picture itself has an interesting back story and nobody seems entirely certain whether the couple is supposed to be a man and his daughter, or the man with his wife.

Grant Wood’s sister Nan was the model for the female while a dentist in Cedar Rapids B.H. McKeeby posed as the man with the pitchfork. However, they never actually stood together for the painting nor did they visit the house outside which they are pictured.