Grant Wood: Prairie Rebel


by Katie Buchholz

18 years, with over 2000 performances actor Tom Milligan executed a one-man show as Iowa-born artist Grant Wood.
Originally the performance was scheduled to be outside by the American Gothic statue, but due to the weather the enactment was moved to the Black Box inside Kent.
Milligan chatted with the audience talking as Grant Wood the entirety of the show. Describing his early childhood until the day he was diagnosed with cancer, the audience absorbed in details the inspirations, the memories and the people of Iowa that helped him create the iconic
American Gothic and other paintings.
The one-act play illuminated Wood’s travels from his training in Chicago and Paris.
“When I came back to Iowa that time things were different,” said Milligan acting as Wood when he traveled back to Iowa after his trip from Paris. “No, that’s not quite right…things were the
same. They were more the same than ever, I was different. I now knew what I was supposed to paint and why. Because the usualness things are the best.”
After the show, Milligan answered questions from the audience and explained his approaches to this monologue.
“I feel as if I have gotten under his (Wood’s) skin,” said Milligan.
The program was part of the Iowa History Center Speaker Series.