Guest Column: Gary Kelley’s 19th Amendment commemorative calendar is a masterpiece


Courtesy of Steve Corbin

Guest columnist Steve Corbin describes the women featured in Gary Kelley’s limited edition 19th Amendment centennial commemorative calendar for 2020.

Steve Corbin

While my pencil or crayon drawing expressions can best be described as stick-figure-art — if that — I marvel at artists whose creations speak to my soul and touch my stream of consciousness. I’m struck with awe and wonder while studying Gary Kelley’s limited edition 19th Amendment centennial commemorative calendar for 2020.

The 100-year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment (women’s right to vote) will be commemorated throughout America in 2020. Veridian Credit Union viewed this as a monumental achievement that merits attention, education and promotion. Veridian Credit Union commissioned Kelley, elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2007, to create 12 illustrations for the 2020 calendar without restrictions. The calendar, titled Hard Won, depicts Iowa natives who made a lasting mark on society.

January: Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012; Iowa City), a granddaughter of slaves and a University of Iowa graduate who studied under the iconic artist Grant Wood, became the first African American woman to earn a Master of Fine arts degree in the United States.

February: Edna Griffin (1909-2000; Des Moines), referred to as the “Rosa Parks of Iowa,” took her stand at Katz Drug Store (Des Moines) seven years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus; Griffin’s action brought civil rights to Iowa.

March: Arabella “Belle” Mansfield (1846-1911; Mount Pleasant) is an Iowa Wesleyan graduate who challenged women not being permitted to take the bar exam and in 1869 became the first female lawyer in America; Iowa became the first state to admit women to the practice of law.

April: Sioux City born twin sisters Esther “Eppie” and Pauline “Popo” Friedman (1918-2002 and 1918-2013, respectively) — Morningside College graduates — became progressive national advice columnists “Ask Ann Landers” and “Dear Abby.”

May: Sister Corita Kent (1918-1986; Fort Dodge) was a pop art icon who used her art to spread messages of love, peace and equality and alert the public to various humanitarian crises.

June: Willie Stevenson Glanton (1922-2017; Des Moines) became the first woman to be named assistant Polk County attorney. She was Iowa’s first African American female legislator and civil rights and women rights attorney with U.S. Small Business Administration.

July: Doreen Wilber (1930-2008; Jefferson), became the first Iowa woman to bring home a gold medal (archery; 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany).

August: Jessie Field Shambaugh (1881-1971; Shenandoah) created after-school programs in 1901 for young people in Page County for which she became known as the “Mother of 4-H Clubs.”

September: The seven brothers from McGregor (1852-1918) who formed the Ringling Brothers were, as Kelley noted, “ahead of the curve when it came to equal rights … female performers’ salary was comparable to and sometimes exceeded their male counterparts.”

October: Jean Adeline Morgan Wanatee (1910-1996; Tama) became the first woman to be elected to the Meskwaki tribal council, Smithsonian Institute language specialist and first American Indian inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.

November: Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947; Charles City) graduated from Iowa State University (the only female in her class), was active in the Suffrage Movement and founded the League of Women Voters in 1920.

December: Donna Belle Mullenger (aka, Donna Reed; 1921-1986; Denison), received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her appearance in “Here to Eternity” and starred in the television series “The Donna Reed Show.”

Gary Kelley’s inspirational and educational 2020 calendar is a masterpiece. Kelley’s history-rich creations appear to be of a humanities professor disguised as a robust and sophisticated illustrator.

Extensive biographies of historic Iowans, written by Emmy award winning Cydney Kelley, are included in the calendar. The limited edition calendar can be obtained free — while available — at any of Veridian Credit Union’s 27 Iowa office locations.