Portrait of Maquoketa: The Dimensional View



“In line at the grocery store one day, I looked around and saw all these people, all these faces, all ages, all these people I never really see. I wondered – maybe we never really look at each other, at ourselves. If I, as a visual artist, never really looked at the people I engage with on a daily basis, do they? The thought was – I should paint these people…all of them, any of them that are willing… no selection by me, let them select themselves. Maybe we can begin to see each other. What if we make the genre of portrait painting available to all? You don’t need money or stature or accomplishment. You don’t need to fit into some ideal I might have as an artist. You are worthy because you are here… in this town, at this time. Let’s paint a portrait of our town, one portrait that is made of many…a portrait of Maquoketa. All these thoughts came in a rush as I stood in the check-out line.”
– Rose Frantzen



Portrait of Maquoketa: The Dimensional View features the work of Rose Frantzen, a Maquoketa, Iowa, native who has gained national and international acclaim for her oil paintings from life that bring contemporary and innovative perspectives to a traditional alla prima approach. Portrait of Maquoketa features 180 oil painting portraits that Frantzen created from July 2005 to July 2006 and an audio collage of the voices of those who posed, along with music inspired by the voices and by the quiet beauty of the hills around Maquoketa.

For the Figge installation, Frantzen painted a 315-square-foot landscape view of Maquoketa from the hills outside town. The landscape is broken up on 34 vertical panels that are suspended from the ceiling so that the panels come together as one when viewed from one end of the exhibition space. The reverse side of each panel acts as a frame for the 180 portraits. The portraits, the landscape and a new music composition by John Frantzen, Rose’s brother, were funded in part by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Although Portrait of Maquoketa has gone places I never imagined,” says Rose Frantzen, “I have felt from the start a desire to set the portrait of the town into a larger framework, namely the landscape—showing this community nestled within the Iowan countryside. The opportunity to show in the beautiful and expansive third-floor gallery of the Figge compelled me to realize my initial vision.”

The new three-dimensional installation was conceived and designed by Frantzen in collaboration with her husband, artist Charles Morris, who mapped out the enlargement of Frantzen’s landscape onto panels that vary in size from 3 1/2 feet tall to more than 10 feet tall. The original landscape, which Frantzen painted on location in the early spring of 2012, was transformed to fill a 90-degree view with 30 feet in depth.


This exhibition will be on view  through January 20, 2013.

Learn more about this exhibition in this YouTube video: Artist Rose Frantzen at the National Portrait Gallery.
See Rose Frantzen's artistic process in this YouTube video.



Photos: Rose Frantzen working in her studio on panels for Portrait of Maquoketa exhibirtion.
© Old City Hall Gallery

View photos of the installation of this exhibition at the Figge.


Sponsored by       Joseph and Carolyn Martin    
                        Dr. Ralph and Jennifer Saintfort

Rose Frantzen, Untitled, 2005-2006, oil on panel. Courtesy of the artist.