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Say What?


This my entry in this week's Illutration Friday theme, "Cultivate". I thought this one had some potential for a goofy punchline. I particularly like how "cultivate" has an agrarian meaning and an art appreciation meaning.

Comments (20)


"I particularly like how "cultivate" has an agrarian meaning and an art appreciation meaning."

What, the CULT part?


Love it John! Wonder if they like the painting?


Wow! Put a couple of dog collars on them and you'd have American Gothic!

Dr. Bob:

I've never understood one thing about the original American Gothic painting... you have a farm couple, one dressed in a farm dress, the other dressed in bib overalls, yet they look all cleaned up like they haven't done any chores.

But they also aren't dressed formally enough to go to church or to a funeral.

They also look impassive and serious, stoic, hardy and almost stiff.

In summary, I have no idea what is happening in the painting, the context behind it and why it was posed this way.

It's almost as if Mr. Wood had asked them to clean up and pose for the painting as if he were a photographer.

Oddly enough, the "farmer" is actually Mr. Wood's dentist and the woman isn't the dentist's wife, but Wood's sister. It was first shown in 1930.

Dr. Bob:

Ok, since this is a Say What.

Imagine a thought bubble above the woman which says...

"You shouldn't have eaten that 4th slice of pizza, John"

And the man's thought bubble says...




Growing up in a rural area outside of a little Podunk town in the South, I encountered a good number of people who dressed very similar to this into the 1970s. They had lived through the depression, worked hard all their lives for not very much, and didn't live all that differently than they had during the depression (they would never have thought of accepting handouts... so-called "entitlements").

There was a good number of old codgers who either felt like they couldn't afford a full suit (therefore they only had a jacket), or their suit was so old the jacket outlived their trousers (& being older, they no longer had the income to upgrade their wardrobe).

A good number of them had never owned real property in their lives, but a larger number of them were "tax refugees" who were cheated out of what little land they had scraped & saved for when the tax man showed up on their doorstep with his hand out for inflated property taxes that were intended to drive independent rural folks into the cities so they could be kept on the gubmint plantation just like the inner-city pigmentally gifted folks.


"I rue the day we got in that infernal contraption with that flux thingy in it."

John Cox:


I see your point. The painting is suppose to represent the hardcore Midwestern ethic of no prentense and honest appearences, yet the facts behind the painting bare the details of facade and rhetoric. I'm sure Grant Wood was going for symbolism without the messy details of actual American life.

Idealizing rural life seems to come naturally to artists.


"I think he made you look kinda 'gangster', father."


"What a couple of hicks!"

We don't always frown. Why did he have to paint us like that?

Tom Wms.:

1. John, this is excellent.
2. Ed B, I think you link shows the great grand children.
3. I hate to sound like an intellectual dolt, but I never put a lot of thought into the original. I simply liked it for what is was.

Now for the "Say What?" - Dear, did that dress make me look fat?

Kevin The Zeroth:

"Gosh I loved that trident."
"Pitchfork, Byron."
"Tri-Dent. You're just jealous 'cause it has more teeth than you, Nan."
"You're full of it, Byron."
"Yeah, full of TEETH!"

Tsk. Poor guy's elevens are just about up, and I'm afraid if he keeps antagonizing Nan, she's gonna gum him to death.


"Well, I can honestly say you is as beautiful as you always was."

Dr. Bob:

Hey T:

Now that you mention it, my maternal grandfather dressed very much like that. He was a tin-smith and died in 1965.

Having gone through the Great Depression, he and his wife were very frugal. Their one luxury was a nice car purchased in 1951 and were still driving it with less than 25K on the odometer when both died.

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John Cox is a painter, cartoonist, and illustrator for hire. For information about purchasing existing work or commissioning new work, contact him by e-mail at john555cox [at] hotmail.com.

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