The love of art

Ever since he was a boy doodling on the margins of his school papers, Eric Anderson has been inspired by art.

“I want to transfer that inspiration on to others,” he said Friday.

Anderson expects to have plenty of opportunities to do just that in his new role as the art educator and assistant director of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum in Fort Dodge.

He started working in that capacity on Aug. 12. He comes to the museum with about a decade’s worth of experience teaching art at the college level, most recently at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City.

He was not hired to replace former Director Margaret Skove, who abruptly retired last month. He was actually hired by Skove before she left. The museum director’s position remains vacant.

Anderson said one of his goals is to foster stronger community involvement in the museum, which he described as “really an amazing gem in the middle of Iowa that everyone should know and come see.”

He said he wants to boost attendance in the museum’s art classes. He also wants to do more things outside the walls of the museum, perhaps by offering art programs in nursing homes.

“I love the idea of anything that has to do with teaching others about painting and art,” he said.

He also wants to establish a “community gallery,” which he said would be a place in the museum reserved for the works of local artists.

“It would be just another opportunity for local artists to display their work in a building that has so much history,” he said.

Although he said he’s always loved drawing, Anderson describes himself as a “mixed media artist.” He paints with oils and acrylics and in the past has made sculptures.

He greatly admires the work of the late Robert Rauschenberg, a painter and graphic artist, he said.

“He’s the one who got me excited because of the work he was doing and the way he was putting things together,” Anderson said. “It was just amazing – really exciting.”

He said he also likes the “oldies but goodies,” such as Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh.

He added that’s he interested in a recent art genre called pop surrealism. He said artists working in that genre create “really bizarre, somewhat creepy, dreamlike paintings that I think are really amazing.”

Anderson is a native of Estherville who graduated from Estherville High School. He then earned an associate’s degree in graphic design from Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville.

He continued his education by earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a master’s degree in art and art history from Minnesota State University, Mankato in Mankato, Minnesota. He also earned an MFA in studio art from the University of Nebraska, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Anderson taught painting and three-dimensional design at Drake University in Des Moines for eight years. Next, he taught painting, drawing and art appreciation at the Boone campus of Des Moines Area Community College. Then he taught at Western Iowa Tech Community College for a year.

He said he became interested in the job at the Blanden because it combines teaching and administration.

He and his wife, Rita, have three daughters.