Iowa State University alum Mary Jane Hagenson poses for her portrait with artist Rose Frantzen. 


MUSCATINE — The faces of deans, scholars and alumni of Iowa State University will soon fill the top floor of the Muscatine Art Center's Stanley Gallery.

On Thursday, the Muscatine Art Center will open an exhibit of "Faces of Iowa State," a collection of portraits by Iowa artist Rose Frantzen. Melanie Alexander, director of the art center, said the exhibit will run through April 15, with a reception featuring the artist and a live painting demonstration on March 24.

"I think that there are a ton of people in Muscatine who have an Iowa State association and we've known of Rose (Frantzen)'s work for quite some time," Alexander said. "It's exciting just to have her work exhibited here."

Frantzen, a native of Maquoketa, began working as an artist in 1987 and has exhibited oil and multimedia works in galleries across the country. At the Old City Hall Gallery in Maquoketa, Frantzen became known for a series of painted portraits of local residents.

"Portrait of Maquoketa" was Frantzen's yearlong project in which she invited anyone in her hometown to sit and be painted, and eventually 180 of her portraits were shown at the Smithsonian's gallery in Washington D.C., according to the Old City Hall Gallery. The work is now a display at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

In 2016, Frantzen painted 19 similarly-styled portraits of Iowa State faculty and staff during the Iowa State Fair. The work eventually morphed into the project called "Faces of Iowa State."

Now, the collection includes 39 oil portraits of Iowa State alumni, faculty, staff and friends, celebrating the tradition of portraiture at the university that dates back to the 1930s, Alexander said.

While staying as a visiting artist at Iowa State, Frantzen would sit each person down and spend a few hours on each portrait, she said. And on March 24, Muscatine residents will have an opportunity to watch her undergo a similar process.

At the artist's reception in Muscatine, she will perform a live painting demonstration, painting a portrait in real time.

"I'm really excited for the portrait demonstration and for people to see her working in action," Alexander said. "They may say 'let's go see this for 15 minutes,' and then figure out it's been an hour, because it's so fascinating to watch."

The reception on March 24 is free and open to the public.

The art center is also hosting a National Bagel Day event on Friday from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

The Muscatine Art Center, 1314 Mulberry Ave., is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.