Brunnier Art Museum hosts art, pottery exhibit and ‘adoption’

Patty Clark

Adopt some art in Des Moines and view a historical pottery gallery at the Brunnier. The Brunnier Art Museum displays an exhibition that hits home for Iowa State’s history. The exhibition titled “Iowa Collage Pottery” displays pottery that was created between 1920 and 1930 in the Ceramic Engineering Department, which is now a part of the materials science and engineering department.

It all began when Paul Cox became head of the department in the 1920s. Cox came from Newcomb College in New Orleans where he was the technical director of Newcomb Pottery. He was involved with Newcomb Pottery from 1910 to 1918 and improved the quality of the clay and glaze that were used to create pottery. In 1926 Cox brought in Mary Yancey, also from Newcomb, to be an instructor in the ceramic engineering department. Yancey taught pottery design and created pottery that would be exhibited throughout the state. When any of Yancey’s pottery was sold the proceeds would go to the department for funding its operations. 

Yancey and Cox worked together to create new glazes, experiment with kilns and firing techniques, and provide students with hands-on instruction. The two of them have work that can be found in the ceramics and engineering department, as well as part of other private collections. 

The exhibition has been up for approximately a year and, “it is a popular exhibition with visitors to the Brunnier Art Museum because all of the pottery was made at Iowa State,” said Allison Sheridan, collections manager and communications coordinator for University Museums.

The exhibition will be available for viewing until April 2014.

For art enthusiasts, Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines is putting its paintings up for adoption. “Adopt-A-Painting” is an opportunity for anyone to make a donation to help with restoring the art collection at Hoyt Sherman Place. Carol Pollock, executive director at Hoyt Sherman, said this event just started.

“Barry Bauman came in two years ago and did a walk through with Pete Sixbey, a framing expert, to get an idea of what it costs,” Pollock said.

Bauman said it takes him on average four months to restore a painting.

“There are three areas to restoring. One is the visual repair; getting rid of precious varnish, dirt and grime. Two is the Structural repair where I fix any tears, stabilizing and cracking. Three is what I call the final effect where I do the retouching and re-varnish the painting,” Bauman said. “Having the history of art on my isle is the most enjoyment. But it’s never been a career for me it’s always a reward.”

By adopting a painting, the adopter is helping that painting stay preserved. A plaque will be placed next to the adopted painting that has the title of the painting, artist of the painting, year and restoration provided by. Adopting a painting is also tax deductible.

“There are 51 pieces that need to be restored and about 20 to 25 have been adopted,” Pollock said. “We are working on an adoption paper to give to those who adopt,” said Pollock. “The name of those who adopted will stay on the plaque for 75 to 100 years.”

Pollock said she is thrilled with how well it’s gone. “People have really liked being a part of restoration,” said Pollock. “The media and press have been great and Barry was so excited about so much press,” Pollock said. “It’s unbelievable how the paintings look after Barry gets done with them,” said Pollock. 

For those thinking about adopting a painting many people can adopt the same painting without having all the names on the same plaque. The paintings are mainly from the 19th century and include some from Europe as well. The paintings range in price from $350 to $3,500.