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 Edward Beatty Rowan  (1898 - 1946)

About: Edward Beatty Rowan


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Lived/Active: Virginia/Iowa/Illinois      Known for: painting, museum curating, sculpting, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A gallery director, painter, sculptor, art historian and teacher, Edward Rowan worked in Falls Church, Virginia and Iowa in Cedar Rapids and Stone City, where he was a member of Grant Wood's Colony. This experience influenced him to be a strong proponent of Regionalism

Rowan was founder and director of The Little Gallery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1928-1934. The gallery was concerned with promoting education in the community. Because of his success with the Little Gallery, in 1931 he was chosen by the American Federation of Arts to be the director of a new experimental art center in Cedar Rapids. Rowan was also affiliated with the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard before going to Cedar Rapids and served as Chief, Public Buildings Administration, 1930's-1940's. 

As a Public Works Art overseer, he was first Assistant Director of PWA, which was the extensive art and humanities project to find work for artists, writers, and theatre professionals and musicians.  Then in 1935, under Superintendent Edward Bruce, Rowan was named Section Superintendent of TRAP, Treasury Relief Art Project.  Rowan "Section" focused on the embellishment of federal buildings and included overseeing creation and installation of post office murals.  This part of the WPA, administered from Washington and much more tightly organized and exclusive than the other arm of the WPA program, was known colloquially as "The Ritz."

As The Section administrator, Edward Rowan had a reputation for dedicated commitment to details of critiquing subject matter and artistic style and being highly selective about participants.  Starting the project, he took the old Public Work Art Project files and sorted them into three groups: "good, mediums, and bums."  However, he was regarded as fair minded, constructive in his comments and respectful of the artists. Of them, he wrote: "We are, in fact, their champions."

L. Robert Puschendorf, Nebraska's Post Office Murals.  Quotations are from this source.
Smithsonian Archives of American Art

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