Stage Pastoral

Grant Wood’s American Gothic is a bit ersatz — the artist recruited a Cedar Rapids dentist, B.H. McKeeby, to pose as the farmer, and his sister Nan plays the woman (conceived as the farmer’s spinster daughter, not his wife).

But the setting was inspired by a real cottage in Wood’s native Iowa, and by his admiration for “the kind of people I fancied should live in that house.”

“I tried to characterize them honestly, to make them more like themselves than they are in actual life,” he said. “To me they are basically good and solid people.”