Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret, Madeline Roemig Bendorf in dual Kirkwood gallery exhibits through Oct. 1
Two Iowa visual artists with more than a century of creative work—and two generations of family—between them will share the first fine arts exhibits of the year at Kirkwood Community College. Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret and Madeline Roemig-Bendorf will exhibit retrospective works of photography and painting, respectively in shows at Kirkwood Sept. 1 through Oct. 1.
Madeline Roemig-Bendorf’s paintings in several media will be on display in the Iowa Hall Gallery, while Bourret will present a retrospective collection of photographs in Kirkwood’s Nielsen Hall Atrium Gallery. Both exhibits are free and open to the public.
Bourret is an eastern Iowa native whose family also lived in various locations in Iowa and Minnesota during her school years. She attended The University of Iowa with some additional education at Stanford University. Bourret was one of the first women to work as a reporter and photographer for the Cedar Rapids Gazette in the 1940s and early 1950s. In 1951 she photographed the birth of her first son which she recalls as “being rejected by all the women’s magazines around.” It was later accepted by the Des Moines Register, LOOK Magazine, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and the U.S. State Department Information Agency for international publication.
Following the birth of her first son she recalls being “unemployable” in regular journalistic roles, so Bourret turned to freelance work for the Register and other commercial photography assignments. In 1954 she became a freelance writer/photographer for The Iowan magazine, eventually advancing to contributing editor and a 30-year career with The Iowan. Her photography has appeared in virtually all the major newspapers in the U.S. Her photographs also are in many private and museum collections.
Joan Liffring-Zug Bourret is the recipient of numerous awards. She also published several children’s books on the farm life of children in America. In 1993 she donated an unprecedented collection of more than one million photographic negatives to the State Historical Society of Iowa.
Now nearly 80 years of age, Bourret says she “has no plans to stop” her creative and artistic work. “I really can’t imagine people retiring. People in the arts become timeless in terms of age….The work is the important thing…to do things for others and with others.”
Madeline Roemig-Bendorf is a native of the Amana Colonies and is a graduate of Amana High School and Cedar Rapids Business College. She has been a working artist since the 1960s, creating paintings and drawings in pastels, oils and acrylics. She particularly enjoys plein air painting. The “immediacy, vibrant colors and transportability” of pastels has made them her favorite medium for the past fifteen years. She has painted in the Caribbean, France, Wales and Greece plus the Carolinas, Florida and New Mexico, but her favorite surroundings remain the Iowa County country scenes of her youth.
In Eastern Iowa, Roemig-Bendorf has had one-person exhibitions at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Amana Arts Guild, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Mercy Hospital, the Chait Galleries Downtown, the Corner House Gallery, and Catiri Art Gallery, as well as a past show at Kirkwood. Her paintings are in numerous public, business, and private collections.
In addition to creating art, Roemig-Bendorf was a founding member and original director of the Amana Heritage Society Museum. She describes her approach to art as “my way of expressing my connectedness to the world around me. There is beauty to behold each day from panoramic views to intimate corners. I am grateful and blessed to be part of it all.”
A joint reception for Joan Liffring Zug-Bourret and Madeline Roemig Bendorf is set for Thursday, Sept. 4 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Nielsen Hall Atrium. Both artists will share brief comments at about 6 p.m. The Kirkwood Chamber Ensemble will provide music during the event and refreshments will be served. The reception and gallery showings are free and open to the public.
Regular hours for the Iowa Hall Gallery are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Iowa Hall Gallery is also open during arts performances in Ballantyne Auditorium.