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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Area gallery hosts show for famed ISU resident sculptor

Thursday, January 3, 2002

Arts on Grand is pleased to announce that it will be host to Christian Petersen, Sculptor, a traveling exhibition organized by the Brunnier Art Museum of Iowa State University (ISU).

The exhibit will feature a collection of artworks created by Christian Petersen, now recognized as being the first resident artist on any university campus. The collection will be on display from Jan. 9 through Feb. 9, 2002.

The public is invited to an opening reception to be held from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Arts on Grand on Saturday, Jan. 12. Those attending are welcome to share any stories or experiences they may have had interacting with the artist as a teacher at ISU.

An emigrant from Denmark whose family settled in New Jersey, Petersen learned the craft of die-cutting, the process of sculpting designs into metal models for objects such as silverware or medals, before pursuing sculpting as a full time endeavor. Petersen moved to Chicago in 1928, believing that the Midwest would eventually become a cultural center. His plans for a new career were interrupted by the fall of the stock market in 1929, the start of the Great Depression. During this time when millions of skilled Americans were unemployed, special programs were created as part of the New Deal implemented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) was the first of such programs. intended to put artists to work on supervised projects for the American public. Petersen was invited by Grant Wood, the head of Iowa's PWAP, to participate in this federally funded program.

Two major PWAP projects in Iowa were completed for Iowa State College in Ames. While all the other artists worked on a mural for the library building, Petersen completed the fountain for the Dairy Industry building independently. Petersen turned this assignment into a permanent, full-time residency for the next twenty one years. Added to the college payroll in 1935, Petersen taught sculpture, and continued to work on projects for the campus. The body of work produced during this timeframe constitutes his best known sculptures. All are representational and many reflect the missions and themes of the various departments at the time. Petersen's works of art are considered among the best of the Regionalist art produced in the 30's and 40's, and portray both the history and culture of the Midwest.

This traveling exhibition is organized and circulated by the Brunnier Art museum, university Museums, Iowa State University, Ames. Touring of the exhibition is supported by the J.W. Fisher Endowed Arts Outreach Fund at the Iowa State University Foundation.

Additionally, Arts on Grand is collaborating with Spencer Community Theater (SCT), to offer further insight to Christian Petersen's life by offering a one person player at SCT on Sunday, January 20, at 1:30 p.m. Written by Iowa artist Cynthia Mercati, this play is from the perspective of Christian Petersen, about his life. It will be performed by Tom Milligan, also known for his portrayal of Grant Wood. Tickets will be available for $5 at the SCT box office.

Locally, this project is sponsored by Spencer Municipal Hospital in Spencer, and by a grant from the Iowa Arts Council.

Arts on Grand is a multi-disciplinary, non profit arts agency dedicated to making the arts available to everybody. The facility features an exhibit gallery, sales gallery, and studio classrooms. It is open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m on Saturdays.

For more information please call 712-262-4307.