7 Glenn Chamberlain: When Tillage Begins: The Stone City Art Colony and School
The Stone City Art Colony and School 1932-1933
Glenn B. Chamberlain
 

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Glenn B. Chamberlain (1914-2001) - student

Born in Cainsville, Missouri and raised in Des Moines, Glenn Chamberlain graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1932 with extensive art training from Mabel Dixon Macmullen. That summer, he attended the first session of the Stone City Art Colony and decided to make art his lifelong career. While there, he pursued painting and sculpture, with Grant Wood and Adrian Dornbush serving as his mentors. He took additional classes at the Art Students Work Shop, Des Moines (1934-1936) under Dornbush and Lowell Houser, another colony member, as well as lessons with sculptress Florence Sprague of Drake University, an art colony faculty member.

As part of the Public Works of Art Program (PWAP), Chamberlain’s painting “Country Road” was selected by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1934 to be displayed in the Executive Office of the White House. Chamberlain was only nineteen when he received this honor, with his work selected from thousands of entries. In 1935, with scholarship aid, he attended the Minneapolis School of Art and then moved to New York City to enroll in the Art Students League.

Chamberlain was a member of the WPA art program in Iowa, directed by Grant Wood. Along with George Grooms, he received the mural commission for Callanan Junior High in Des Moines. The two artists painted murals in the school’s stairways; Chamberlain’s panel shows children participating in school activities – track, games, bicycle riding, band classes, and Boy Scout groups. Groom’s companion panel shows the adult world of work – business and factory settings; 1937 marked the murals’ installation. Chamberlain would later reunite with Lowell Houser from 1938-1940 to produce four glass and stone murals, representing the four main elements [earth, fire, water, and air], for the Bankers Life Company offices in Des Moines, now known as the Principal Financial Group. The “High Street” building, as it is called, serves as the company’s corporate offices.

Chamberlain relocated to California in the early 1940s, working briefly for Lockheed Aircraft and in 1944, joined the Air Force as a pre-flight instructor. By 1946, he returned to New York and joined the Russell Wright Industrial Design Company, making sets and costumes for modern dance groups. While employed in New York, Chamberlain exhibited sculptures at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1949) and spent a year in Paris on the GI Bill studying French culture and sculpture. Following his European travels, he held brief appointments at Hunter College (NYC) and at Bard College (Annandale, NY).

As an invited artist, Chamberlain’s first trip to Boulder, Colorado was for a summer session at the local University of Colorado campus. He genuinely enjoyed the area and returned to establish the campus’ sculpture program in 1957. He joined the art department faculty in 1961 and was awarded a full professorship in 1976. While on sabbatical, he traveled to Japan (1981) and thereafter, had a Buddhist influence to his designs. He retired from the university in 1982 and died in Boulder in 2001.

Chamberlain was exhibited widely, including the Iowa Art Salon; the Des Moines Public Library; Art Institute of Chicago (1934); the All Iowa Exhibition (1937); the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Water Color Exhibition (1938); the University of Colorado-Boulder (1961-1982, various); and the Arvada Art Center (Arvada, CO, 1997).


Online Resources for Glenn Chamberlain:

University of Colorado-Boulder. “Silver and Gold Record: Obituaries: Glenn B. Chamberlain.” Available: https://www.cu.edu/sg/messages/505.html


"Revival" -- Depicting east side of Des Moines, Iowa at the height of the Great Depression. Image courtesy of Sharon Hedgecock & Jeanenne Kienle, Hurst, Texas.

Found on the back side of the "Revival" painting. Image courtesy of Sharon Hedgecock & Jeanenne Kienle, Hurst, Texas.

"Miners' Homes," a view from backyard of his home on Merle Hay Road, Des Moines, Iowa. Image courtesy of Sharon Hedgecock & Jeanenne Kienle, Hurst, Texas.

"San Miguel Valley." Image courtesy of Sharon Hedgecock & Jeanenne Kienle, Hurst, Texas.

Glenn B. Chamberlain, 1973. Photo provided and used with permission of the University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, Archives.

Glenn B. Chamberlain, 1973.

Photo courtesy of and used with the permission of the University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, Archives.

 

When Tillage Begins: The Stone City Art Colony and School
Published online October 2003 by the
Busse Library,
Mount Mercy University
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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