The Stone City Art Colony and School 1932-1933
Don Emil Glasell

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Don Emil Glasell (1895-1965) - student

Born in Denmark, Glasell exhibited an early talent for art and took private lessons in Copenhagen. At the age of seventeen, he came to America and enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied under Wellington Reynolds. Additional art training occurred at the Commercial Art School and the Studio School. Following his art studies, Don joined an Army artillery unit during World War I and served in France. While there, he lost much of his hearing and almost lost his life from German army shrapnel that struck his canteen in September 1917.

Don returned to Chicago following the war and did many small jobs, including painting buckeyes in a Walgreen’s drugstore window, and working at a decorative lampshade factory, where he met his wife, Criss Rosner. After a short courtship, the two married in 1925 and moved to Dubuque, Iowa. The couple was active in the Dubuque Art Center and met Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Francis Chapin, and Adrian Dornbush. The Glasells maintained a studio in downtown Dubuque and attended the Stone City Art Colony in the summers of 1932-33.

Following his studies under Grant Wood, Don joined the Cooperative Mural Painters Group in Cedar Rapids and helped paint the controversial mural series in the Linn County federal courthouse in 1936. At the same time, Glasell served as the assistant director of the Federal Art Center in Sioux City, Iowa, where he led painting and etching classes. He assisted William E. Bunn and Bertrand Adams with their two Dubuque WPA mural commissions in 1936-1937; he also aided Herman O. Myre and Rollin E. Beard with their Sioux City mural series depicting local history. For ten years, Glasell worked as a designer and manager for several Chicago commercial art companies. In the mid-1940’s, the Glasells briefly relocated to Bloomfield, Iowa where Don worked as a chief designer for Knock-on-Wood Industries, a wood carving and puppet manufacturer. Until a few years before his death, Don worked as a commercial artist and draftsman for the John Deere tractor facility in Dubuque.

Glasell served as the director of the Dubuque Art Academy and taught art classes at the Dubuque Evening School for three years. He was a member of the Iowa Artists Club, the American Art Congress [New York], and other organizations. Exhibitions of his work include the Philadelphia Water Color Show, the Iowa Art Salon (various years), as well as New York and Chicago galleries. A permanent collection of his work was held by the Dubuque Art Association and is now housed at the Dubuque Museum of Art. Glasell died in Chicago in 1965.

"Carnival" (1937). Etching. Image courtesy of the Mason City Public Library Historical Collection.


"The Daily Wars" (nd). Etching. Image courtesy of the Mason City Public Library Historical Collection.

Don Emil Glasell - Photo courtesy of Don L. Glasell, Chicago, Illinois.

Don Glasell

Don & Criss Glasell. Photo courtesy of Don L. Glasell, Chicago, Illinois.

Don & Criss Glasell

Photos courtesy of Don L. Glasell, Chicago, Illinois.


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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