Credit Line: Painting from the Randy Hoshaw Collection, acquired using a gift from Peter Orazem and Patricia Cotter. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
In The Studio Potter article written by the artist Daniel Rhodes in 1985, he comments that his love of art began early and he spent his childhood developing and nurturing his natural skill. During the summer of 1932 he attended Grant Wood’s Stone City Art Colony, although not in agreement with Wood’s pure regionalist style; he met several other artists who greatly influenced his form of realism. He also studied at the Art Students League in New York City, which is where he was greatly inspired by the intensely realist murals of the Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Jose Orozco, later even travelling to Mexico City to see more of their art. Making a living as an artist was always a struggle and one that Rhodes continually fought. Rhodes became one of the artists working with the early New Deal experimental programs and created a mural for the cafeteria in the Naval Department in Washington DC. As government work disappeared he moved back to Fort Dodge and committed himself to painting. Rhodes was quite successful in Iowa in the late 1930s, creating several murals in federal buildings and paintings that garnered praise and awards. His painting took on a very earthy feel, the colorations based on ochre tones, as he was attempting to visually describe the dust and dirt that accompany rural life. Through the WPA, Rhodes was commissioned in the late 1930s with another artist to create a large scale mural for the Iowa State Fairgrounds, which was unfortunately destroyed just a few years later by critics who deemed it derogatory to Iowans.
Rhodes is best known as a ceramicist, an important force in the studio pottery movement, with much of his early success in painting little remembered and relegated to the past. After viewing Native American pottery in Colorado and New Mexico, he was moved at how immediate and real this art form was in comparison to the posturing and grandeur he always disliked in painting. He attended Alfred University in 1941 and would spend the rest of his life teaching, writing, and creating pottery. Rhodes wrote several books, including his first in 1957 Clay and Glazes for the Potter, which many considered to be the potter’s Bible. He also received a Fulbright fellowship and travelled to Japan to teach and study traditional Japanese pottery. At his core Daniel Rhodes was an Iowa artist, who loved the earth, the land, and used art as a way to be grounded. His first retrospective exhibition at the Blanden Memorial Art Museum in Fort Dodge in 1973 brought him back to his home and he inspired many artists in Iowa and throughout the world through his creations, teachings, and writings.