Jack Balas, 2019: IOWA: THE AFFECTIONS
OF HER PEOPLE, LIKE THE RIVERS OF HER BORDERS, FLOW TO AN INSEPARABLE
UNION (A NEW SON DREAMING ON THE PLAIN) (ADMISSION ALWAYS FREE);
oil, enamel and acrylic on sewn canvases with collage elements of maps and silver gelatin photograph. Approx. 90" x 139"
ABOUT THE PAINTING:
This painting is constructed of overlapping and sewn pieces of canvas that hang on the wall with grommets, and are collaged with pages from a road atlas as well as a 4-part black & white silver gelatin photograph, with vignettes in oil of a Duccio saint as well as a young shirtless man. Other image elements include clocks as well as beds with a plaid spread echoing the large man's shirt in lower left.Outlining the state of Iowa and many of its 99 counties, the painting becomes a map itself.
The leading part of the title (IOWA: The Affections...Union) was written as a motto in the 1840's by Enoch W. Eastman, and is engraved on the Washington Monument, embodying a reference to the division in the United States in the years preceding the Civil War, when the monument was under construction. The phrase under the shirtless man, A NEW SON DREAMING ON THE PLAIN, was written around 1930 by Cedar Rapids poet Jay Sigmund, and refers to Iowa favorite son Grant Wood, painter at the time of the hugely popular "American Gothic."
The sofa image in the upper right is actually a painting from 1999, AMERICAN DREAM, sewn into this new painting, that was the announcement piece for a 1999 exhibition at Robischon Gallery in Denver. Its upper flow chart names, in Latin, muscles of the male groin area; while the lower chart names muscles of the arm. (59 Pectineus/ 60 Gracilis/ 61 adductor Longus/ 62 Perineum/ 64 Corpus Cavernosum/ 35 trapezius/ 36 Deltoid/ 38 Long Head of Triceps/ 39 teres Major/ 40 Coraco Brachialis/ 41 Medial Head of Triceps/ 43 Biceps Brachii/ (45) _achio _dialis/ 46 Extensor Carpi R.L./ 47 Anconeus/ 49 Flexor Carpi Ulnaris/ 50 Extensor Digitorum/ 51 Palmaris Longus/ 52 Abductor Digiti Minimum/ 54 Abductor Pollicis Brevis/ 58 Palmar Aponeurosis)
By coincidence, the eagles carved onto the sofa's antique frame echo the eagle that appears on the Iowa state flag.