The Mississippi River and The Driftless Area

Along the northeastern Iowa border, the Mississippi River cuts through an area known as the Driftless which features deeply carved river valleys and is so named because the area was untouched by glacial action or drift. Designated a National Wildlife Refuge the area includes northeastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois. Close to the water the area still feels primal despite having been brought to heel in the 1930’s with the building of a massive lock and dam system that created vast lakes and quiet sloughs. Hundreds of species of wildlife call it home, and thousands of birds continue to use the river as a flyway for their annual migrations as they have for centuries. Meanwhile, the recreational craft of all sorts dodge the enormous barges filled with grain and coal that ply the river. Before the earliest European explorers found and used the river to establish trade routes that evolved into major transportation systems, the river supported indigenous populations for centuries and their ancient burial mounds in the shapes of bears, fish, and falcons are scattered on the tops of the tree-covered limestone bluffs 400 and more feet above the water.

Winneshiek Landing, 20 x 40 Inches, 2008, Private Collection
View From Lynxville, 15 x 60 Inches, 2007, Private Collection
Valley Afternoon,  15 x 75 Inches, 2017, Available
View Near Stoddard, 6 x 24 Inches, 2008, Private Collection
View From Ferryville, 18 x 54 Inches, 2007, Private Collection
Mississippi Morning,  24 x 60 Inches, 2006, 	Private Collection
View From Pikes Peak, 30 x 120 Inches, 2004, Collection American College Testing, Iowa City
Upper Iowa Afternoon, 15 x 60 Inches, 2008, Private Collection
Trempealeau Weather, 20 x 40 Inches, 2004, Private Collection

The limestone bluff named Mt. Hosmer after the 19th-century sculptor Harriet Hosmer towers 450 feet above the town of Lansing, Iowa where our part-time studio/gallery is located. The best part of the two and a half hour drive from Cedar Rapids to Lansing is the 35 mile stretch on Highway 35 north from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin which has nearly continuous inspiring views of the Mississippi River which can appear cerulean blue and pale gold with the winter ice and choppy pale maroon in the summer breezes. It has been said that the mostly tree covered bluffs parade along both sides of the river like a herd of giant buffalo and they are sometimes perfectly reflected on the still surface of the pools. Some mornings particularly in spring and fall the giant beasts disappear in the morning fog.

Late Summer View From Lansing, 15 x 60 Inches, 2006, Private Collection
Boat View, 10 x 40 Inches, 2016, Available
Autumn Along Village Creek, oil on canvas, 15 x 75 inches, 2017, available
Spring Wetland, 32 x 40 Inches, 2016, Collection Wealthstone Financial Inc.
Sandcove, 15 x 75 Inches, 2010, Private Collection
River Farm, 15 x 60 Inches, 2005, Private Collection
River Dusk, 16 x 48 Inches, 2013, Private Collection

Sometimes with theological reverence 19th-century, American landscape artists celebrated the natural beauty of the New York’s Hudson River, even as they recognized the effects of man’s encroachment. I view the Mississippi River and the Driftless area in much the same way. Despite power boats and barges, 100 plus tanker car trains racing along either side, expensive homes tenuously clinging to the bluffs and the modern agricultural practices around the edges, the area remains a very spiritual place. Here natural beauty still overwhelms everything.

Blackhawk Twilight, 15 x 60 Inches, 2015, Private Collection
Spring View From Balltown, 2017, Available
Mississippi Autumn, 20 x 100 Inches, 2011, Collection University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Project Art
Driftless Nightfall, 12 x 48 Inches, 2015, Private Collection
Driftless Destination, 16 x 48 Inches, 2013, Private Collection
November View from 82, oil on canvas, 15 x 60 inches, 2018
Lansing Twilight, 15 x 60 Inches, 2007, Private Collection
Driftless Portal,  18 x 54 Inches, 2017, Available
Blackhawk Twilight, 15 x 60 Inches, 2014, Private Collection
This is a map of painting locations. Click on a marker to see what painting is from that location. More markers to be added later.

Blackhawk Bridge at Lansing

Blackhawk Twilight

Driftless Nightfall

River Dusk

River Dusk Mississippi and the Driftless Iowa Wisconsin Illinois


Spring Wetland

Valley Afternoon

Valley Afternoon Mississippi and the Driftless Iowa Wisconsin Illinois

View From Ferryville

View From Lynxville

Winneshiek Landing