News Release

“Red Curve (State II)”. 1988. Lithograph on Arches 88 paper, signed and numbered in graphite. Museum purchase in memory of Socrates Pappajohn using funds given by the Pappajohn Family

Subject:                      Artwork purchased in memorial of Socrates Pappajohn

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The MacNider Art Museum has purchased a painting by American artist Ellsworth Kelly in memory of longtime Museum supporter Soc Pappajohn.  The work was purchased with funds donated the Pappajohn family.

Socrates Pappajohn was a lifelong supporter of the arts.  He was first appointed to the Charles H. MacNider Museum Board of Trustees in 1973 and remained on the board until 2009.  He was instrumental in the creation of the MacNider Museum Foundation in 1996 which allowed for the Museum to use bequests to further the Museum’s financial stability.  He remained on that board until his passing.

Soc was an art enthusiast who spent many volunteer hours on Museum’s acquisition committee, assisting the staff in purchases that would become the core of the Museum’s outstanding American art collection.  He pushed to acquire pieces that were the most representative of the particular artist in question in order to better educate the public.

The artist Ellsworth Kelly was born in 1923 in Newburgh, New York.  As a young child he studied birds with his grandmother which helped form his early ideas related to the use of color.  After high school he attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, as his parents would not pay for artistic training, only technical training.  He attended until 1941 when he joined the army.  He served during WWII and later returned to college, using the GI Bill to pay for his education. 

He attended the School of Fine Arts in Boston and later traveled abroad to gain artistic experiences.  During this time he moved away from figurative works of art into abstract painting.  His works emphasized color, line, and form instead of a recognizable figure.  Kelly became known for contributions to the color field movement, which is characterized by large swaths of color across the canvas that creates an unbroken plane.  By the 1970s he started to incorporate signature curves in his work, similar to the piece donated to the MacNider.  Kelly became one of the top abstract artists in the United States by the time of his death in 2015.

The acquisition of the Kelly piece is important to the growth of the Museum’s collection.  “This piece clearly demonstrates the color field movement” explained Museum Director Edith Blanchard. “Soc would frequently suggest when looking for new acquisitions to collect an Ellsworth Kelly piece, but the timing was never right to acquire one.  I can think of no better artist to represent Soc in the Museum’s collection.”

Visitors may view the piece during the current open hours of the Museum Tuesday –Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., with extended hours till 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays.  It is located at 303 2nd Street SE, Mason City, Iowa and has no admission fee.  More information about exhibits, programs, and events can be found at the Museum’s website at www.macniderart.org or at its Facebook page.  You can also call 641-421-3666 for more information.


Bob White (1907-1986). “Study for a Mural” Tempera on panel, circa 1935-45. Gift of Phil and Jane Bradbury. Artwork conservation made possible by the Chautauqua Circuit #889 Questers through a Preservation and Restoration Grant from International Questers. [1993.2]

Subject:  MacNider Museum Receives Grant from Area Questers Group

The Charles H. MacNider Museum was a grant recipient from the Chautauqua Circuit #889 Questers chapter of the Iowa Questers. The project was funded by a $6,300 Preservation and Restoration Grant from International Questers and funds raised by the local chapter.

The Questers organization exists to research, study, and preserve antiques for the future as well as promote the field of preservation.  The grant program’s focus is to preserve and care for artifacts that are important to the community in which they reside.  For this project the Museum was granted $6,300 to send five works of art to the Midwest Art Conservation Center for conservation work.  Often the Museum is gifted works of art that are in an unstable state at the time of donation, while others simply have issues appear as they naturally age. 

The Museum Director Edith Blanchard noted it was the first time a grant of this magnitude was bestowed upon the Museum for the permanent collection.  “The care and condition of the Museum’s collection is of upmost importance to the Museum,” said Blanchard. “With these stabilization efforts and minor repairs these works are ensured to be available for future generations.  We are so grateful that these funds made this project possible.”  The Midwest Art Conservation Center is one of the nation’s top institutions for the restoration and conservation of artwork.  As a city entity the Museum has very limited funds available for such endeavors and relies heavily on community support and grants for such projects.

Those interested in becoming a member of the area chapter of the Iowa Questers should contact Carol Tinkey at 641-423-5965.

The MacNider Museum is open to the public with Covid safety precautions.  The Charles H. MacNider Art Museum, located at 303 Second St. S.E. in Mason City, is free and open to the public. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. More information can be found at the museum’s website at www.macniderart.org, on its Facebook page, or by calling 641-421-3666.


Subject:     Artwork purchased in memorial of Terry MacGregor

William Gropper. “Night Club”. 1973. Oil on canvas.

The MacNider Art Museum has purchased a painting by American artist William Gropper in honor of longtime Museum volunteer and supporter Terry MacGregor.  The work, entitled “Night Club” was purchased with funds donated by the family of Terry MacGregor in her honor.  Terry passed away in 2020.

Terry MacGregor was a life-long supporter of the MacNider Museum.  She was active in a number of the Museum’s programs, and was as a founding member of the Foreign Film series that eventually found a home at the MacNider Museum.  An avid photographer, Terry often submitted and exhibited photographs at the Museum’s Cerro Gordo Photo Show.  Her passion for the arts was evident in her continual enthusiasm for the Museum. “It is wonderful that we are able to honor her memory with such an important piece,” said MacNider Museum Director Edith Blanchard.  “Terry was such an important person to our museum. We are delighted the family had chosen to remember her in this way.”

William Gropper was born in New York City in 1897.  His youth was marked by poverty and struggles in the ghettos of New York.  As a young man he was able to take classes at the National Academy of Design and the New York School of Applied Arts.  After studying painting with artists such as Robert Henri and George Bellows, he joined the New York Tribune as a cartoonist.  Soon after he began drawing for other publications such as the New York Post, Vanity Fair, and the Morning Freiheit.  These cartoons and illustrations often had political commentary as a subject matter.  Gropper began painting in 1921.  Shaped by his early years in poverty, he followed the style of his mentors Henri and Bellows and choose to paint images of the common person.  As an artist he was sought to bring awareness to social ills in American Society.  As he continued his career his technique became more abstract and his subject matter, such as “Night Club”, often gave commentary on his views of the upper class elites.  Visitors may view the piece during the regular open hours of the Museum Monday –Saturday 10:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m., with extended hours till 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays.  It is located at 303 2nd Street SE, Mason City, Iowa and has no admission fee.  More information about exhibits, programs, and events can be found at the Museum’s website at www.macniderart.org or at its Facebook page.  You can also call 641-421-3666 for more information.