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Iowa Pastimes:
Politics and State Fairs

Figge Art Museum, June 16 to September 9, 2007

Figge Art Museum Curator of Collections and Exhibitions Michelle Robinson made a studio visit in August of 2006. After viewing photographs, drawings, and paintings of various American subject matter, she sensed a theme emerging: politics and state fairs. I've added to the intial group of seven artworks that Michelle saw that day and created a number of works with the gallery space at the Figge in mind. The fourth floor gallery at that time wasapproximately 40' X 90' with 24' ceilings. When I walked into the space it felt like an art "cathedral." In response to this specific space I created several new large paintings, the largest of which is approximately 12' X 12'. (Continued at bottom of page.)

Michelle selected the following artworks for this exhibition:


Photo Opportunity

Political Red Meat

State Fair

Balloon Game

Deep Fried Twinkies

Democratic Convention 2004

Republican Convention 2004

John Kerry Reporting
for Duty

Double Ferris Wheel



Chair Lift
Iowa State Fair

Capturing Reality

America Votes 2004

Jefferson Jackson
Day Dinner

Corn Dogs

John Edwards at
the Blue Strawberry
Coffee Shop

Senator Joe Biden
at Hy Vee Grocery Store

Entrance, Iowa State Fair

On a Stick or Sandwich

Cotton Candy


Midway 5


To see installation photos of this show click here.

To read another review of this show visit the River Cities' Reader Web site.

The following related artworks were finished after the show had been finalized and were not in the exhibition:

Barack Obama at the University of Iowa

John McCain at the Crown Plaza

Waiting for John McCain


Waiting for Rudy Giuliani

Press Gallery

Listening to John Edwards

Candy Apples, State Fair


Barack Obama's Technical Difficulty


John McCain, P.O.W.

Night Flag

Night Flag 2

Night Flag 3

This conscious study of political, media, and other news images led me to take a closer look at America. It began a dramatic shift of focus in my work from non-objective compositions to the use of specific imagery. I made the commitment to spend a large portion of my time photographing images that intrigued me. I am interested in reflecting the mood and feeling of our era.

While these compositions are representational, I have pushed contrast, texture, and color intensities; flattened areas, and eliminated detail. These changes add drama and make each piece as much about color, paint and painting as recording reality.

In the Figge's members' news magazine curator Michelle Robinson wrote: "The paintings of Cedar Rapids artist Tom Jackson display the contrast and similarities between two well-known Iowa pastimes: political involvement and state fairs. Iowa's caucuses and early primaries signal the start of a long political season that features prominently in presidential campaigns. State fairs represent activism on a different level, an annual tradition of participation and interaction. Both share crowds of people, over-the-top marketing, and a sensory overload that are all explored through Jackson's large-scale paintings."

To more State Fair Paintings.