Biography/Statement Over the years, Ellen Wagener has developed a penchant for certain areas and places, revisiting these sites to observe the changing crops, weather, time of day or season. She absorbs the characteristics of a location and recreates it anew on paper.
Wagener's landscapes demonstrate her awareness of the great tradition of landscape painting, from which she invents her own conceptual and stylistic approach. The Hudson River School, American Luminism, the French Barbizon School, Impressionism, and 20th-century Iowa artists such as Grant Wood and Marvin Cone are the landscape painters that inspire her. At the same time, the influence of the work of such Abstract Expressionists artists as Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline can be felt in her use of frenzied, gestural lines. Her tour-de-force, F5Tornado, 2003, in the Figge Art Museum permanent collection, demonstrates her ability to work within her own alphabet of realistic landscape imagery to create symbolic, abstract works. Stormy clouds, burning fields, dust storms, and tornadoes move across her formerly pristine, carefully groomed landscapes, demonstrating the powerful force of nature.
Contrast is key in Wagener's work. There are strong gestural elements and ethereal clouds that soften the focus. While her renderings of fields and trees have a tactile quality, the skies are always elusive. The warm tones of the land against the cool colors of the sky are depicted in endless variations, whether spring, summer, fall, or winter. Her ability to capture the color, light, shapes, and textures of nature allows us to feel the cultivated land, to marvel at the endless diversity of the sky, and to have a mysterious encounter with nature.
Written by Jane Milosch, Director, Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative, Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
EDUCATION 1989 BFA, Painting and Drawing, Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC, 1985 Washington Center, Washington, DC, National Assembly of Arts Internship Program 1984-85 University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 1983-84 Marycrest University, Davenport, IA
AWARDS 2013 U.S. 9th District Federal Court House, Cedar Rapids, IA, GSA Commission, “Iowa Four Seasons” (permanent collection) 2013 Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Commission, Indian Steele Park installation 2011 Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Commission 7th Avenue Streetscape Project 2009 USA Artist Fellowship, USA Artists, Los Angeles, CA 2004 “Addy Award,” Ellen Wagener and Cedar Rapids Museum of Art 2001 The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, nominated 1993-99 Art Dollars Grant, Quad City Arts Council, Rock Island, IL
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2018 Ellen Wagener Gallery, Premiere Opening, Dubuque, IA 2017 Olson Larsen Gallery, “Ellen Wagener; Pastels,” West Des Moines, IA 2016 Tucson Museum of Art, “Big Skies, Hidden Stories; Pastels By Ellen Wagener,” curated by Julie Sasse, PhD., artist lecture Dubuque Museum of Art, “Ellen Wagener; No Ordinary Moments,” Lecture by Jane Milosch, Provenance Dir., Smithsonian Institution, artist residency with Iowa Arts Council Clarke University, “Ellen Wagener; Beyond the Horizon”, Quigley Gallery, artist lecture 2015 Iowa State University, Brunnier Art Museum, Ames, IA “Ever Changing Land; The Art of Ellen Wagener Curated by Adrienne Genette, ISU Museums, artist residence Figge Art Museum,”Horizon Lines; Ellen Wagener, Pastels” Curated by Tim Schiffer, Director, essay by Jane Milosch, Provenance Director, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC Figge Art Museum, lecture by Joni Kinsey, PhD, University of Iowa on”Ellen Wagener, Horizon Lines,” artist lecture Collection acquisition 2014 “Four Rivers,” Gebert Contemporary Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 2013 J. Cacciola Gallery, New York City, NY, “New Work,” Gebert Contemporary, Scottsdale, AZ 2012 “Way Out West,” Yuma Fine Arts Center, Yuma, AZ “Lost Midwest,” Hudson River Gallery, Iowa City, IA 2011 “AZ,” Mayo Clinic Arts and Humanities Center, Scottsdale, AZ 2010 “Light, Air, Land,” Phoenix Airport Museum, Phoenix AZ 2009 “D H Lawrence Trees,” J. Cacciola Gallery, New York City, NY “Not Quite Paradise,” Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 2008 Eden’s Edge, Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 2007 Proximity, J. Cacciola, New York City, NY 2006 Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 2005 Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Inaugural Exhibition “Cultivated Desert,” Mesa AZ, catalogue Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 2004 Bentley Projects, Phoenix, AZ Klaudia Marr Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2003 Drawing The Cycles of Nature, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, IA curated by J. Milosch, lecture by Joni L. Kinsey, PhD., University of Iowa, CR Art Museum acquisition, Figge Art Museum acquisition of “F5, Tornado” 2002 Seven Days in Iowa, Iowa State Capital, Des Moines, IA 2001 Roadside Eden, van de Griff/Marr Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2001 Calendar, Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, IA 2000 Grand Gardens on A Small Scale, Hudson River Gallery 1999 My Own Private Iowa, Hudson River Gallery 1998 “Calendar,” Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, IA, lecture 1998 New Works, Hudson River Gallery 1997 New Pastels, Olson-Larsen Galleries, artist lecture 1996 Not Quite Utopia, Quad City Arts Gallery, Rock Island, IL 1993 Prairiescapes, University of Dubuque, Dubuque, IA, lecture 1992 Highway 61, Revisited, Quad City Arts Gallery, Rock Is., IL Lecture, Master Pastel Class
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2020 Iowa State University, Brunniere Art Museum, Ames, IA 2019 Tucson Museum of Art, “The Sublime Landscape; Majestic Paintings of the American West,” curated by Christine Brindza 2017 Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, “The Kindness of Strangers,” Scottsdale, AZ permanent collection 2017 Phoenix Airport Museum, “Duststorms to Snowstorms” 2016 Iowa State University, New Acquisition, “Cyclones” 2016 Arizona State University, “Creative Push” Step Gallery 2015 Iowa State University, Ames, IA “40/40” catalog 2015 Tempe Art Center, “Green and Gray,” artist lecture 2015 LA Art Core, Union Center, Los Angelos, CA 2015 Phoenix Airport Museum, “Seven C’s” Phoenix, AZ 2015 Phoenix Art Museum, CF Auction, Phoenix, AZ 2013 Dubuque Museum of Art, “Thomas Moran and DuMA New Acquisitions,” Dubuque, IA 2013 Phoenix Art Museum, Contemporary Forum Auction, Phoenix, AZ 2013 Arizona State University, Step Gallery, “Plein Air Revival” 2013 Monorchid Gallery, Phoenix, AZ “25th Anniversary” 2012 Tempe Art Center, “Arizona Landscapes,” Tempe, AZ, catalogue, Artist Lecture, Arizona Centennial Exhibition 2012 “Beautiful Calamity,” J. Cacciola Gallery, New York City 2012 “Twist,” Alex Gallery, Washington, D. C., Washington Post 2012 “Welcome Home, Quad Cities,” Quad City Art Center, Rock Island, IL 2011 “Summer” J. Cacciola Gallery, New York City 2011 “Interpretations,” Gebert Contemporary, Scottsdale, AZ 2011 “Legends Studio Slack Show,” Phoenix, AZ, New Times review 2010 “Pastels,” Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 2010 “Works on Paper,” J.Cacciola Gallery, New York City, NY 2010 “Photorealism,” Citadel Foundation, Canadian, TX Curated by Liz Seigler and J. Cacciola Gallery, NYC 2010 “Conversations,” LewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM 2010 “New Collectors,” Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 2009 “Trouble in Paradise; Examining the Discord Between Science and Nature,” Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZCatalogue, museum acquisition for permanent collection 2009 LA Art Fair, J. Cacciola Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 2009 LA Art Fair, Bentley Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ 2008 “Masters of Illusion, Unveiling the Mystery of Tromp L’Oeil,” Tempe Center for the Arts, Tempe, AZ 2008 Miami Art Fair, J. Cacciola Gallery, New York 2007 Art Santa Fe, Art Chicago, LA Art Fair, J. Cacciola Gallery 2006 “Obsessed, Images of Weather,” Brunnier Museum of Art, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, permanent collection acquisition 2006 “Tromp L’Oiel,” Schemer Art Center, Scottsdale, AZ 2005 J. Cacciola Gallery, New York, NY 2004 Selections from the Permanent Collection, featuring F5, Tornado, Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, IA, lecture 2003 Recent Acquisitions, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, IA 2003 Gallery Artists, Olson-Larsen Galleries, W. Des Moines, IA Grant Wood and the Iowa Landscape, Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa 2002 Landscapes, Olson-Larsen Galleries, W. Des Moines, IA 2001 Realism, Evansville Museum of Art, Evansville, IN Art in Embassies of the U.S. Dept. of State, Villinus Latvia, catalogue, permanent collection acquisition 2001 On the Horizon, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, IA Landscape, Tory Folliard Gallery, Milwaukee, WI 2000 Real Illusions, vande Griff Gallery, Santa Fe, NM Davenport Museum of Art, Green Fields and Crystal Waters, curated by John Arthur, artist lecture 2000 Gallery Artists, Olson-Larson Galleries, West Des Moines, IA 2000 Inspired By Grant Wood, Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, IA 2000 Gallery Artists, Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2000 Landscape, a Visual Pleasure, Tory Folliard Gallery, Milwaukee, WI 2000 The Landscape, Olson-Larsen Galleries, W. Des Moines, IA 2000 The Midwestern Landscape, Springfield Art Museum, IL 1998 Iowa Collection, curated by L. Pohlman, Iowa State University, catalogue Venue: Brunnier Art Museum, Iowa State University, Mac Nider Museum, Mason City, IA; Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, IA 1997 American Art: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Davenport Museum of Art, curated by M. Robinson, PhD. Rural Inspirations, Rockford Museum of Art, Rockford, IL 1996 Expedition: American Rivers, Along the Banks of the Ohio, Venue: Sherry French Gallery, New York City, NY, U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC; Owensboro Museum of Art, KY 1996 Zanesville Art Center, Zanesville, OH; The Kennedy Museum of American Art, Ohio University, Athens, OH, artist lecture 1995 Utopia, Sherry French Gallery, New York City, NY 1993 Biennial Invitational, Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine, IA 1992 Small Treats, Zenith Gallery, Washington DC 1989 New Artists, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC
INSTALLATIONS 2016 Iowa State University, “Cyclones,” Ames, IA Biorenewables Department, “Hay Bales” 2013 Federal District 9 Court House, Cedar Rapids, Iowa “Iowa, Four Seasons” permanent installation of 4 paintings 2013 City of Phoenix, Indian Steele Park, “Mayor Stanton Selects” Phoenix, AZ (“Mothership”) 2011 City of Phoenix, 7th Avenue Streetscape Public Art commission “Mothership,” Phoenix, AZ 1998 “Mc Flamingo,” Eastern Iowa and Quad City Arts Gallery, Rock Island, IL. Locations varied
RECENT MUSEUM COLLECTION ACQUISITIONS (2013-2017) University of Arizona Museum of Art Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ 9th District Federal Court House, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Iowa State University, Ames, IA, Department of Agriculture, Deans Gallery Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, IA University of Iowa Museum of Art Yuma Art Center, AZ City of Iowa City, IA Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ Dubuque Museum of Art, Iowa Kirkwood College, Cedar Rapids, IA Brunnier Art Museum, ISU,IA
SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ MasterCard Corporation, New York City, NY European Acquisitions Bank, Zurich, Switzerland University Museum of Art, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ Iowa State University, Brunnier art Museum, Ames, IA University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA (School of Business) University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA U.S. State Dept., U.S. Embassy, Caracas, Venezuela Iowa State University Alumni Foundation, Ames, IA The Knoll, Iowa State University, Ames, IA Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, IA Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, IA M & I Banks, Phoenix, AZ Allied Group, Des Moines, IA Black Hawk College, Moline, IL Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa, Des Moines, IA City Bank Corporation, Kansas City, MO Dubuque Grand River Center, Dubuque, IA Maytag Corporation, Newton, IA Oxy-Chem Corporation, Dallas, TX Pioneer Hi-Bred Corporation, Des Moines, IA Ruan Center, Des Moines, IA F.B.L. Financial Group, West Des Moines, IA Fieldstead, Des Moines, IA First Des Moines Bank, Des Moines, IA Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA Henkel Corporation, Cologne, Germany Homesteaders Life, Des Moines, IA Iowa Bankers Association, Des Moines, IA Iowa Beef Processors, Omaha, NE Lutheran Hospitals, Des Moines, IA Howard and Donna Stone, Chicago, IL Phillip Wrigley Collection, Arizona City of Phoenix, AZ, Office of Arts and Culture City of Iowa City Public Library Collection, IA Ohnward Foundation and First Central State Banks, Iowa Yuma Art Center, AZ Gerald Peters Collection, Santa Fe, NM Kirkwood College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
SELECTED JURIED EXHIBITIONS 2010 New American Paintings, curated by Terry Sultan, Parrish Museum of Art, South Hampton, NY, catalogue 2001 "DMA Biennial," Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, IA Juror: R. Griffey, Curator, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO 2000 "Iowa Artists," curated by J. Fleming, Des Moines Art Center 2000 "Impressions," Blanden Memorial Art Museum, Fort Dodge, IA 2000 "New American Paintings," The Open Studios Press, catalogue 1999 "Iowa Artists," Des Moines Art Center Juror: J. Karden, Director, American Craft Museum, New York City, (catalogue) 1997 "Iowa Artists," Des Moines Art Center Juror: L. Grachos, Director/Curator of SITE Santa Fe, NM 1997 "DMA Biennial," Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, IA, BEST OF Show, Juror, M. Wilkinson, Curator of 20th Century Art Detroit Institute of Arts (catalogue) 1996 "Iowa Artists," Des Moines Art Center Juror: J. Farber, Curator of 20th Century Art, Joselyn Museum of Art, Omaha, NE, catalogue 1995 "Bi-State Biennial," Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, IA Juror: N. Benezera, Curator, Hirshorn Museum of Art, Washington, DC, catalogue "Augustanna University, Fine Arts Exhibition," Rock Island, IL, AWARD WINNER, Juror, G. Neubert, Dir., Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, catalogue
"Pastels," Maryland Art Federation Gallery On the Circle Annapolis, MD, catalogue, Juror, David Hannah, Tyler School Of Art, Philadelphia, PA
1994 The Contemporary American Landscape," Erector Square Gallery, New Haven, CT, AWARD WINNER, Juror: Helen Cooper, Curator of Painting and Sculpture, Yale Art Gallery, Yale University "On Paper, Maryland Pastel Society," John Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, Juror: J. Fisher, Curator, Baltimore Museum of Art, catalogue 1992 "Regional Art Showcase," Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, IA Juror: L. Warren, Curator, Museum Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
SELECTED PUBLICATIONS Julien Journal “Ellen Wagener at the Dubuque Museum of Art” 2016 Quad City Times, “Ellen Wagener at the Figge” September 30, 2015 Des Moines Register, ”Nature Nurtures Artist” January 30, 2015 Washington Post, “Twist,” Alex Gallery, Washington, DC, April 2012 DC City Paper, Washington, DC April 2012 Phoenix New Times, “Decent Art Stands Out,” Kathleen Vanesian, Oct, 20, 2011 Des Moines Register, “Art That Works,” Christine Riccelli, July 29, 2010 Tucson Museum of Art, “Trouble in Paradise; Examining the Discord Between Science and Nature,” pp.7, 152-53, by J. Sasse, 2009 Phoenix New Times, “Not Quite Paradise,” March 5, 2009 Desert Living, 2009, Lara Taubman, artist profile, “Sketched Out” Arizona Foothills Magazine, “Designer’s Showhouse,” p. 8, 2009 Art in America, January 2008, p.32 Arizona Republic, January 26, 2008, “Tree Bears Fruit,” Richard Nielsen, AE review Art in America, March 2007, p. 57 21st American City: Phoenix, Arizona, Booth-Clairborne Publishing, London, England Phoenix Home & Garden, March 2006, “Emerging Artists,” J. Kushman, pp., 146-148 Art & Antiques, December 2005, “Smoke and Mirrors,” John T. Spike American Art Collector, December 2005, "Ellen Wagener," J. Rose, pp. 148-157 Arizona Republic, September 11, 2005, Richard Nilsen, “Museum Loving Its New Digs” Arizona Republic, September 12, 2004, "Artist Finds Power in Landscape,” Richard Nielsen, review pp. 61, 63 Passa Tiempo, August 6, 2004, "The Unbelievable Likeness of Light," Elizabeth Cook-Romero, pp. 50-51 review The Arizona Republic, April 9, 2004, "Artist Doesn't Stray," Ernest McIntyre, pp.7-8 review Phoenix New Times, April 15, 2004, "Pastel Skies," Gina Cavallo Collins Arizona Foothills, "Artwatch/Buzz," J. Quill, p. 48 Desert Living, "Gallery Preview," Rebecca Clark, p. 36 Des Moines Register, May 11, 2002, "Show Time," L. Marshfield, HG Des Moines Register, August 10, 2003, "Hotel Pattee Collection," A. Pierre, HG review, catalogue Dubuque Telegraph Herald, March 8, 2001, "Field in the Rearview" p.8 The Iowan, March/April 2001, p. 13 Des Moines Register, August 9, 2000, "Mother Theresa's Foul Ball," Venue North, July 14, 2000, "Gallery Examines Modern Realism," p. 6 New American Paintings, Open Studio Press, Midwest, Volume 29, 2000 Lit by the Sun, Lela Gilbert and Ellen Bak, copyright 2001, pp. 82 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Landscape Artists Show Off Midwest's Charms," James Aver, November 3, 1999, p. 2ECUE Iowa Artist, 2000, Des Moines Art Center, catalogue ARTnews, summer 1999, van de Griff Gallery, p. 42 Des Moines Register, "Diversity Is Key to Iowa Artist Show," Marie Louise Kane, July 13, 1999, p. 2E review Iowa Artists, 1999, Des Moines Art Center, pp. 39, 47 A Time We Remember, B. Wundram, pp 3, 4, 78 Lifework: Portraits of Iowa Women Artists, R. Steinbach, 1998, pp. 96-97,138 Iowa Artists, 1997, Des Moines Art Center, pp. 61, 70 The Iowan, Winter 1997, p. 54 Omaha World Herald, July 14, 1997, "Travelers Guide; Beauty out The Front Door," pp.17-19 Dubuque Telegraph Herald, July 3, 1997, "Women Artists," p. 17 ARTnews, June 1996, "Riverside Blues," pp. 39-40, review ARTnews, March 1996, p. 68 Iowa Artist's 1996, Des Moines Art Center, pp. 45, 47 Iowa City Magazine, June, 1996, p. 23 Iowa Woman's Magazine, summer 1995, cover story, pp. 2, 26 The Capital, (Annapolis, MD) March 17, 1994, Mike Purvis, review The Daily Iowan, (Iowa City, IA) September 10, 1993, T. Wannat, "Soul Catcher, An Artist's Tale" New Haven Register, (New Haven, CT) December 6, 1992, E. Fleischman, "Landscapes and Horizons”
Professional 2018 Ellen Wagener Gallery opens in Novetly Building, Dubuque, IA 2016 Artist Residency, Clarke University and Iowa Arts Council 2015 Artist Residency, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 2015 Art Curator, “Randy Castillo, Life, Blood” Albuquerque Film Festival, NM 2010 2011, “Grant Wood Artist Colony Symposium,” Stone City, IA Organized a Regionalism Symposium at the famed colony with artists, curators, scholars, “Master Class by Ellen Wagener” 2006 “Sphere Lit From Above” by Sol Le Witt, Phoenix Art Museum Project assistant, wall drawing 2002 Cedar Rapids Museum of Art Master Class Instructor 1998 Davenport Museum of Art Friends Board Member, Davenport, IA 1997 Curator, Davenport Museum of Art, “James Konrad Retrospective” 1996 Drawing Instructor, Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, IA 1994 Marycrest International University, Adjunct Professor 1986 Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC, Sculpture Assistant 1985 National Assembly of State Art Agencies, Washington, DC Internship, Washington Center, Washington, DC 1985 National Assembly of Local Art Agencies, Washington, DC Internship, Washington Center, Washington, DC Organized local events for national convention, Cedar Rapids 1984 Costume Designer, Set Designer, Ghost Light Players, Marycrest College, Davenport, IA