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Release: Jan. 19, 2001

UI Museum of Art presents lectures Feb 1 & 2 in conjunction with 'Lure of the West'

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Museum of Art will present lectures Feb. 1 and 2 in conjunction with its current exhibition, "Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum," on view at the museum through March 18.

Malcolm J. Rohrbough, a professor of history at the UI, will speak about the "California Gold Rush" at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1 in the Museum of Art.

At 7:30 p.m. the following night, Friday, Feb. 2, Brady Roberts, director of modern art at the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., will speak in the museum on "The Taos Society of Artists."

Both events will be free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session will follow each lecture.

Rohrbough will discuss the financial and social impact of the Gold Rush. "The discovery of gold in California turned things upside down," Rohrbough said. "It opened up wealth and change in status. (The United States) became the ultimate democratic society. The only thing anyone needed was a pick and a shovel.

"The Gold Rush turned out to be an enormous lottery. It produced America’s first great diverse society."

The Gold Rush was not just a California event. Immigrants streamed into America to find gold. "It was a worldwide and national phenomena," Rohrbough said.

Rohrbough has written four books about the West. His latest, "The California Gold Rush and the American Nation," was awarded the Caughey Book Prize of the Western History Association for the best book on the history of the American West published in 1997.

Paintings, Rohrbough said, bring an immediacy that words cannot. The cover of his book features a painting in the Smithsonian collection that will be on display at the UI Museum of Art, "Miners in the Sierras" by Charles Christian Nah and August Wenderoth.

The Taos Society originated in the 1890s when East Coast artists began visiting the Southwest. A large number of artists settled in Taos, N.M., and over a period of 30 years painted Indian subjects, landscapes and Hispanic cultures using expressionistic color, bright light, bold composition and surface abstraction.

Roberts’ talk will link the Taos Society with Modernism. In particular, he will talk about Marsden Hartley, a well-known American artist and the resemblance between his paintings and those of the Taos Society.

"Marsden Hartley had a spiritual approach to landscape that the Taos artists had," Roberts said.

A significant factor that set the Taos Society apart from other movements was its location, Roberts said. "The location and the Pueblo were important to the Taos Society. It was before Industrialization took over in the Southwest part of the country."

"Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum" is one of eight exhibitions in "Treasures to Go," touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.

Programs and exhibitions at the Museum of Art are supported in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Local sponsors of "Lure of the West" include Meskwaki Bingo/Casino/Hotel, the Gazette family of companies, Humanities Iowa, Tru Art Color Graphics, the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art, Inc. of Iowa City is the corporate sponsor for events at the UI Museum of Art during the 2000-2001 season, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

For information on the UI Museum of Art, visit on the World Wide Web. Information is available on other UI arts events at

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots across from the museum on Riverside Drive and just north of the museum.