From Cornfields to Cliffs and In Between: Daily Palette Artists Reimagine Iowa’s Landscape


Tuesday, April 26, 2016 to Sunday, June 12, 2016

Since its launch in 2004, The Daily Palette at the University of Iowa has featured the work of over 3000 Iowa-connected artists, publishing their work online and encouraging a greater appreciation of the arts statewide.

In honor of its twelfth year, the Daily Palette is organizing a gallery exhibition at the Old Capitol Museum on the University’s campus to celebrate two of Iowa’s most important yet often under-appreciated features: its landscape and its artistic talent. From Cornfields to Cliffs and In Between: Daily Palette Artists Reimagine Iowa’s Landscape is a juried exhibition that spotlights seven artists working in a variety of media who interpret Iowa’s landscape and invite us to think about the state in new ways.

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Diane Kunzler: Spencer Flood


Diane Blair Kunzler

Spencer Flood, 2012

24” x 24”

Oil on canvas

Diane Kunzler studied art at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa and earned an MFA in Visual Arts from the Art Institute of Boston.  She is an experienced art educator who taught in the public school system for over thirty-five years, and she continues to serve as an adjunct instructor and a member of the Art Advisory Board for Iowa Central Community College.  She also teaches a variety of workshops in pastel and oil painting for the Blanden Museum of Art, the Amana Arts Guild, and the Iowa Area Education Association.  Diane has shown her work in juried, group, and solo exhibitions throughout the Midwest, and she is the Treasurer of the Iowa Pastel Society Board.

Diane explains that Iowa’s landscape “has been the center of my work for over 30 years. . . . Whether it is traditional panoramic views or the more close-cropped views, the land and environment have invaded my consciousness and shaped my imagery.  I find them endlessly fascinating and challenging.”


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Thomas Jackson:American Slice 31, American Slice 34


Thomas C. Jackson

American Slice 31, 2013

29.2” x 20”

Digital c print


American Slice 34, 2013

29.2” x 20”

Digital c print

Thomas Jackson grew up in Rock Island, Illinois and earned his MFA from the University of Notre Dame.  He now lives and works as a full-time artist in Cedar Rapids.  He has been exhibiting his work in solo, group, and juried shows throughout the country for more than forty years.  Tom’s work is included in dozens of corporate, museum, and college collections throughout Iowa and Illinois, including the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and Mount Mercy University.

American Slice 31 combines three different photographs taken in or just outside of Cedar Rapids that are connected through the theme of abandonment and destruction: a portion of a parking ramp, a concrete slab at the site of a razed building, and a chair on the side of the road merge together to form one image.  American Slice 34 combines several disparate photographs.  Here we see lipstick impressions, prairie grass, and the Penick and Ford Plant on the bank of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids.  Tom explains that he combines photographs “because I want enough information to engage the viewer in looking for connections between images.  I invite the viewer to search their own past, remember emotional experiences, and think about common images in a different way.”  For his American Slice series, Tom wanted to “focus on finding the extraordinary in ordinary American life.  I am interested in reflecting the mood and feeling of our era.”


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Sandra Dyas: Jesus, Crafted for Your Craving


Sandra Louise Dyas

Jesus, Crafted for Your Craving, Highway 218, near Mount Pleasant, Iowa, 2013

30” x 20”

Color photograph

Sandy Dyas is an Iowa City based artist who uses photography as her main medium and Iowa as her main subject.  She earned her BFA and MFA degrees in Intermedia from the University of Iowa.  She teaches photography, video, and performance art at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and she is working on several ongoing projects, including the collaborative video web series Homegrown Stories and the photo and video project Lost in the Midwest.  Sandy exhibits her photography in group and solo shows throughout the country, as well as in online exhibitions, and her work has been published in The Iowa Review, Vogue, and the New York Times, among other publications.  In 2012 Sandy had a year-long residency at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, and that same year she started a successful Kickstarter project to fund a solo exhibition and a two-day photography workshop for students at Drake University in Des Moines.  Her work is included in many permanent collections, including the Dubuque Museum of Art, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and the Iowa City Public Library.

Sandy writes, “Iowa has always been my home and I feel very connected to this particular landscape.  Our roots play a critical role in shaping who we become.  I am interested in how and why we attach ourselves to place.”  Jesus, Crafted for Your Craving, Highway 218, near Mount Pleasant, Iowa emerged from this exploration of place: “Driving back to Iowa City from Mt. Pleasant on 218, ‘JESUS’ in gigantic letters on a green billboard caught my eye.  A McDonald’s ad below?  For real?  I made a quick exit, parked safely, and walked against the wind toward the signage, semi-trucks flying past me.  For real.”


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Grant William Thye: Early Morning Autumn


Grant William Thye

Early Morning Autumn, 2014

40” x 40”

Oil on canvas

Grant William Thye is an Iowa and Chicago based artist who grew up on his family’s farm in Grundy Center, Iowa.  He studied at Central College in Pella, Iowa and he did his post graduate work at Illinois Wesleyan University and Illinois State University.  Grant exhibits his work throughout the United States, including in recent solo shows at Central College and the Dubuque Museum of Art.  His work has been published in books and used in ad campaigns, and it is a part of many private, corporate, and college art collections, and was recently added to the permanent collection of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

Grant’s work focuses on the Midwest landscape; he considers how the land changes in different light and weather conditions, he is inspired by the native plants, farms, and gently rolling hills, and as we can see in Early Morning Autumn, he reveals the beauty and power of the Midwestern sky.  Grant writes that his work has “a certain reflective, dreamlike quality.  I believe this comes from not only the cartoons, comics, and story books of my childhood, but also working, in large part, from memory.  I believe this allows the viewer to form a more immediate recollection, and ultimately a much stronger connection, as if it were taken directly from their own memory banks.”


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Halle Siepman: Remembering Iowa, In Iowa’s Landscape


Remembering Iowa, 2016

36” x 24”

Watercolor, ink, acrylic, graphite on claybord



Halle Siepman

In Iowa’s Landscape, 2016

36” x 24”

Watercolor, ink, acrylic, graphite on claybord

Halle Siepman earned her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Iowa in 2015 and her BFA in Painting from Sonoma State University in California in 2012.  Her art is included in several college and university collections, and she has received numerous awards for her work, including an Iowa Arts Council Grant and grants from the University of Iowa to pursue international research.  Her work was recently exhibited in solo shows at Maquoketa Art Experience in Maquoketa, Iowa, and the Kirkwood Art Gallery and the Legion Arts CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids, as well as in group shows in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.  Halle’s art reveals her ability to work in a variety of media and her fascination with architecture.  Raised in Los Angeles, she now draws her inspiration from her travels abroad and her life in Iowa.

Halle writes that her “architectural imaginations,” such as In Iowa’s Landscape and Remembering Iowa, “are filled with colorful objects and parallel lines that move errantly and weave in and around architectural shapes that evoke the passage of time in the form of expansive landscapes.  I combine graphite line drawings, acrylic, and watercolors to create fictive places that have an ethereal and ephemeral quality.  I moved to Iowa in 2012 from California and considered what my life would have been like had my Iowan parents remained in Iowa instead of moving to California to raise a family.  While looking at Iowa’s landscape and its broad plains, I started thinking about the passage of time and the importance of family. . . . Iowa reminds me of my parents and I want to hold on to memories of them for as long as possible.  We don’t know what the future may hold, but we can imagine while looking at sunrises and sunsets that wonderful events await us.  These paintings are therefore reflections of my dreams.”


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Regan Golden: Prairie Reconstruct


Regan Golden

Prairie Reconstruct no. 19, from The Portfolio of Lost Plants, 2014

17” x 11”

Archival inkjet print

Regan Golden is an artist based in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  She earned her BA from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa and her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.  She is an arts writer for Modern Painters and ARTPULSE, the co-founder of Drawn Lots Collaborative, and the Instructor of Drawing and Art Theory at the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.  Regan has written several artist books, participated in a dozen artist residencies, and exhibited her work in solo and group shows throughout the country.  She was awarded an Emerging Artist Fellowship at The Jerome Foundation in Minneapolis (2014-15), and she was recently nominated for the Baum Foundation Award for an Emerging American Photographer.

Regan explains that she is “inspired by the scrubby forests and ragged prairies that border subdivisions and railroad tracks.  Since the future of these spaces is uncertain, capturing them at present is crucial.  As an artist, I want to capture the cycle of growth and decay occurring in these small, urban natural spaces.”  Prairie Reconstruct no. 19 is from The Portfolio of Lost Plants, a series that is based, in part, on a small swatch of prairie along Ralston Creek in Iowa City.  Regan created this series by cutting apart her photographs of this site with an X-ACTO knife, and collaging these fragments together by hand.  She then scanned her collages and printed them at the scale of a traditional botanical illustration.  This approach helps her convey “the fragility of the prairie landscape and its gradual disappearance,” and allows her to explore her fascination with “how our sense of images as physical objects is diminishing with the influx of digital media and how this parallels our detachment from natural spaces.”


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Alexis Dwyer: Forest and Prairie


Alexis C. Dwyer

Forest and Prairie, 2015

10″ x 10″


Alexis Dwyer is a printmaker, painter, land artist, and art educator working towards her MFA in Integrated Studio Arts at Iowa State University in Ames.  Her prints have been shown nationally in group, solo, and juried exhibitions, as well as internationally in Hong Kong.  She also participates in collaborative projects and art festivals, and she is the Vice President of the University Print Society at Iowa State University and a member of the Monotype Guild of New England.

Forest and Prairie was created as part of a series of monoprints funded by a Focus: Artist Grant Award through Iowa State University.  By layering imagery, this series explores the major elements of the ecosystem of Iowa, including forest, prairie, water, soil, and urban and agricultural areas.  Alexis writes, “My work is a response to my experiences in the outdoors.  I am struck by the interconnections of all life on this planet.  I work to understand and interpret the energy and life found within an ecosystem with the use of color, shape, and pattern.  I hope to give the viewer a deeper sense of the wonder that can be felt in nature.”


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