Touring the Whitney: Alumni experience Grant Wood in New York City

May 1, 2018 — A private group tour of the Grant Wood exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art proved to be popular for Grinnell College alumni in the New York City area.

Colin Brooks '13
    Colin Brooks '13

Grinnellians were greeted at the special event on April 21 and given an exhibit overview by Colin Brooks ’13, a web developer at the Whitney.

“I was talking with Grinnell’s alumni office about having a tour at the Whitney, and I thought having it during the Grant Wood exhibit – with its direct connection to Iowa – would bring people here,” Brooks explained.

He was right; 20 alumni snagged tickets to the tour, which sold out the day email invites were sent from the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

The tour was led by a museum teaching fellow, and while the iconic American Gothic was the centerpiece of the exhibit, there were nearly 120 works by Wood to see in the galleries inside the museum’s new building, including paintings, drawings, and furniture in a variety of styles. One of the unique items was a chandelier decorated with corncobs.

Painting: Spring Turning by Grant Wood (1936). The painting depicts square farms being plowed by horse and plow.
Spring Turning by Grant Wood 1936

Brooklyn residents Jack Couch ’74 and his wife, Alice Bernstein ’76, were making their first visit to the Whitney.

“We were only familiar with Wood’s iconic American Gothic prior to the tour,” said Couch, who added that the teaching artist leading the tour was both engaging and informative. “It was really surprising to learn that so many of Wood’s landscapes were imagined, rather than real Iowa cities.”

After the tour, the group gathered to socialize in the museum’s eighth floor café with Brooks. While at Grinnell, Brooks worked at the Faulconer Gallery as an assistant and did summer arts outreach with local children while working with Tilly Woodward, Faulconer Gallery curator of academic and community outreach. Brooks earned his Master of Arts in art/art education at Columbia University and after an internship at the Whitney, he began working there full time in 2016.

The Grinnell-in-New York alumni community is the second largest, with approximately 1,400 alumni. While summer picnics and presidential receptions have proven to be most popular for this region of busy folks, the Grant Wood exhibit brought together more than a few Grinnellians who hadn’t attended alumni events in a while.

The Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables exhibits runs through June 10 at the Whitney.

— by Anne Stein ’84

For your information:

Interested in planning events for Grinnellians in New York and fostering the local alumni community? Connect with Anna Halpin-Healy ‘13, assistant director of alumni relations for regional programs, at or 641-269-3186.