Club News: PEO MF Discusses State Convention, LP Gets Art History Lesson | Lifestyles


PEO Chapter MF Discusses State Convention

PEO Chapter MF met June 2 at Council Bluffs Country Club for their regular monthly meeting, with Nancy White as hostess. A discussion took place regarding the proposed changes planned for the Iowa State Convention, which was held on June 4 in Des Moines. Representing the chapter were Mary Stuhr and Judy Hughes.

The program was presented by Lauren Lakatos, daughter of our very own Cindy Lakatos, on facial skin care and the importance of understanding “SPF is your best friend”, especially as we age. We thank Lauren for her time and for the skin care samples.

Our next social gathering will be a Tai Chi lesson taking place at Valley View Park on June 16th.

PEO Chapter LP gets a lesson on artist George W. Simons

Members of the PEO Sisterhood LP Chapter gathered in the Lutheran Church of Our Savior social hall May 10 at 1 p.m. to discuss their current business agenda led by Vice President Monica Sciortino at the place of the president on vacation, Beverly Fletcher. Upon arrival, members, guests and visitors were treated to iced cakes and beverages served on a draped table decorated with spring flowers by hostesses Katie Wright and Debra Ebke.

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In lieu of the previously announced speaker who was indisposed, LP Chapter President for Programs and Publicity Joanne Becker gave an impromptu lecture on the life and work of revered Iowa artist George W. Simons (1834-1917) whose drawings and paintings are often exhibited in the Council Bluffs Public Library, the Dodge House, and in the permanent collections of the Hoff Center for the Arts and Culture (PACE) and the Joslyn Art Museum , including a self-portrait.

According to his recollections, Becker said the artist was born in Canada and raised in Streator, Illinois. Simons emigrated to Iowa in 1853 after meeting and working for railroad pioneer Grenville M. Dodge, whose survey party was on assignment in Illinois for the Mississippi and Missouri Railway. Struck by this young man with a bright red beard and blue eyes, Dodge hired him on the spot as a cook. The cook spent his off hours sketching scenes of the landscape, which were so detailed that they became a point of reference for Dodge and the railroad surveying crew. Simons was thought to have a photographic memory, which proved to be of great value to surveyors.

As noted, this experience, coupled with a need for employment, inspired Simons and his family to move to Iowa where he focused his artistic ambitions in the territory known as Kanesville. His depictions captured the territory, city structures, log cabins, tepees. wagon trains, steamboats, locomotives, and people, including Native Americans and those from the Mormon settlement. Brigham Young once offered to pay Simons a daily wage of $6, which the artist considered a handsome sum.

In 1862, George Simons joined the Union Army during the Civil War, as did Grenville Dodge. Sources say Dodge became the youngest general to serve in the US military. During the war Simons kept a daily diary in which he sketched many scenes of war-torn towns and villages and soldiers in distress. However, as the artist rarely signed his work, much of it has perished over time.

After the war, Simons took part in several traveling expeditions, which led his family to ask him to settle in Iowa where they farmed and remained alone. Their need for privacy led people to believe the artist was deceased. On one occasion, George Simons was mentioned in the past tense by the local newspaper — The Daily Nonpareil — prompting a published apology.

In total, George Simons was a resident of Iowa for about 56 years. Towards the end of his career he became a photographer at Council Bluffs, taught art classes and worked in local theatres. He also accepted a commission from NP Dodge, brother of Grenville Dodge, to draw and paint a series of scenes reflecting both Council Bluffs and Omaha. His style of regionalism brought national recognition to the work of this artist. Of particular interest to many of his followers, Simons also painted panoramic views, in which he used up to 10,000 feet of canvas to encircle entire rooms. These works, too, have disappeared over the years.

Simons eventually retired to Long Beach, California, where he died in 1917 at the age of 83.

Chapter LP was due to meet at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 600 Bluffs St., at 1 p.m. on June 14, as they expected to hear historian Dr Richard Warner, president of Preserve Council Bluffs, in a presentation on the “intermediate years”. in the development of Council Bluffs. Chapter LP presents a year-long educational series of historical highlights from Council Bluffs on its 176th anniversary. The programs are open to the public.

— Quotes from Kate Gregory, talented librarian and writer


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