Current Exhibitions




    Beginning in the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, Iowa State University (ISU) made it a priority to commission and paint portraits. The commemoration of presidents, deans, accomplished faculty and heralded alumni strove to honor the college’s heritage and legacies. This tradition continues today with the active commissioning of portraits by departments and colleges all across ISU and is celebrated through this statewide touring exhibition Faces of Iowa State.

    “Portraits are more than simply a record; they illuminate intelligence, importance, virtue, beauty, taste and other qualities of the portrayed person as seen through the eye of an artist,” said Lynette Pohlman, Director and Chief Curator for University Museums.

    “By celebrating these people, this exhibition focuses on the diverse qualities that define the people of a great university. Faces of Iowa State portraits are in the University Museums’ Art on Campus Collection and continue the portrait tradition.”

    Painted on site Faces of Iowa State features the 39 portraits painted by Maquoketa artist Rose Frantzen. Frantzen’s art has been featured nationally, including an exhibit of her Portrait of Maquoketa project at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The exhibition subjects were chosen by Iowa State University’s colleges and select units. Portrait sitters included students, faculty, staff, alumni and individuals with close ties to the university.

    Faces of Iowa State is organized by University Museums with major support from: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Human Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, ISU Extension and Outreach, University Library, Office of the Vice President for Research, and University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.


    About the Artist

    Rose Frantzen was born, raised, and returned to Maquoketa, Iowa, and the rural lifestyle and landscape continue to provide inspiration for her paintings. She attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the Palette & Chisel Academy in Chicago, and the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut. After extensive traveling, she returned to Maquoketa, Iowa and purchased the old city hall with her parents, renovating the building and creating a large gallery with extensive studio space.

    Within her newly developed studio, Frantzen’s Portrait of Maquoketa began as a project to document the people of her hometown and developed into 180 portraits which were then exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

    She has continued to paint Iowans as she has gained more success, including the remarkable dual portrait of George Washington Carver and Henry Wallace (Do you Know What’s Inside This Flower? George Washington Carver Mentors a Young Henry A. Wallace) commissioned by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. This painting depicts the young Henry Wallace in a moment of absolute concentration as he is in the midst of a lesson about plants from George Washington Carver.

    Rose Frantzen’s lifelike and radiant examination of humans and our world bring together a long tradition of oil painting and portraiture with the skill and forward thinking of a 21st century artist.


    About University Museums

    University Museums is a distinctive organization that encompasses two art museums, a National Historic Landmark historic home museum, a sculpture garden, and one of the largest campus public art collections in the nation.

    University Museums brings world-class exhibitions with educational programming to Iowa State University, actively acquires works of art to add to the more than 30,000 permanent collection objects, conserves and preserves collections, conducts and publishes curatorial scholarship, and fosters student engagement.





    Artist Reception | Friday, November 24 | 5:30 – 8:30 pm    

    Narratives and questions suggested by figures and portraits enmeshed in optical illusions


    Artist Biography

    Rose Frantzen has been a working artist since 1987, exhibiting figurative, representational, and allegorical works in oil and multimedia in galleries across the country, including the Old City Hall Gallery in her hometown, Maquoketa, Iowa.  She has had numerous one woman shows and participated in many group shows throughout the United States.  “Portrait of Maquoketa,” her project for which she painted 180 portraits of her townspeople was exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery for eight months.  The expanded installation, “Portrait of Maquoketa – The Dimensional View,” has been exhibited at the Iowa State Historical Museum, and twice at the Figge Art Museum, which purchased the collection.  The project led to numerous private/public art commissions and portraits, including the official portraits for USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack and Iowa Gov. Chet Culver.  Iowa State University commissioned the “George Washington Carver Mentors a Young Henry A.Wallace” painting, three Dean’s portraits, and “Faces of Iowa State,” a growing collection of alla prima portraits (now totaling 39) of noted ISU students, professors, and alumni.  
    She is twice a winner in the International Portrait Competition of the Portrait Society of America, awarded 5th and 4th place and was the international winner of the 2016 People’s Choice Award.  Her work is in public, corporate, and private collections nationally and internationally.  She is a much sought after teacher of portraiture and figure painting, demonstrator, and panelist/lecturer in every region of the U.S. 






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