Close to home

Contributed photo
Contributed photo "Cattle Loading" 1988, Oil on Masonite by John Bloom.

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso

John Bloom’s exhibition, “Close to Home” was on display at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. It was a Tuesday, a day off in the middle of the week for Ginnie, we had never been to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, so off we went. Being from the farm, and presently the owner of 12 hens, an Angus heifer, a dog and a farm cat, I’m particularly drawn to the “regionalism” of John Bloom. Never heard of John Bloom (1906 — 2002)? Well, don’t feel like the Lone Stranger, neither had we. We saw the advertisement for the Figge Art Museum on a Quad Cities television station, and decided to give it a shot. What the heck? We enjoy art.

John Bloom’s art is similar to Grant Wood, without the rolling hills. In fact, John Bloom was friends with Grant Wood and attended Wood’s Stone City Art Colony in 1932, where he met his future wife, Isabel. John Bloom and Grant Wood collaborated on murals at Iowa State University’s Library. I’m particularly drawn to Bloom’s recreations of depression-era Midwestern rural scenes. “Cattle Loading” 1988, Oil on Masonite, is my favorite. I like the way the farmer is herding the Hereford steer onto a railroad loading shoot by grasping its tail. It’s a nice detail and very realistic. That’s the way farmers (and I) do it.

Among the 60 or so pieces of John Bloom art you will see at the Figge Art Museum are a scene at a zoo where the human spectators are eerily similar to the monkeys; parishioners leaving St. John’s Catholic Church in DeWitt, containing Bloom and his brother as boys; and farmers in bib overalls shocking oats. I wish more people wore bib overalls.

Close to Bloom’s exhibition in the next room are a number of Grant Wood paintings, as well as a Picasso. What an inspirational treat!

I had kidded Ginnie that I would take her to Hooters in Davenport for lunch. She was game. However, there is an outstanding cafe at the art museum that is quite pleasant and has marvelous gourmet (artsy) dishes, complete with a panoramic view of the Mississippi River. Ginnie loved it and said I could bring her back anytime, it’s so “Close to Home.” I loved it too. And of course, we sat down by someone we knew.

On the way home we stopped at a theater for an afternoon matinee performance of “On the Basis of Sex” with Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This is a nice history of sex-discrimination legislation in the United States by a pioneer for the cause. As with the museum on a Tuesday, we were the only ones there, like a dream where you’re in a large room with no people.

There was a refill on popcorn which we took advantage of — not for ourselves, mind you — but for our chickens. They love popcorn almost as much as they do breadcrumbs.

At Bluegrass, Iowa, along Highway 61, we stopped and admired the two pheasant sculptures.

Such an outstanding day. Ginnie and I call Tuesday, “Goodnewsday.” And it was. The good news being that art and life go hand-in-hand. Even in the Iowa farmland, all you have to do is look and see — in the ditches and waterways, the hay fields and, yes, even the stockyards, where farmers load cattle. Who needs weekends?

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0626, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com