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Edwin Bruns    Click Images to Enlarge

Oscar Adler

(American, 1898-1970)

Edwin John Bruns was born in Mainstee, Michigan, and as a youngster he delivered newspapers to the home of Jack Benny. He spent most of his career painting, illustrating books, and teaching in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he became a close friend of prominent Regionalist artist, Grant Wood.  After moving to Cedar Rapids, Bruns met and married Marie Gertrude Keiper, with whom he had three children.

Bruns is best known for his series of seven paintings entitled “Seven Ages of a City.”  The paintings depict the history and development of Cedar Rapids, from the early Indians to a detailed aerial view of the city.  The paintings now hang in the History Center in Cedar Rapids, along with others in University of Iowa, Iowa State Women’s Club, Governor’s Home, Des Moines, IA, and murals in the Western Bohemian Frat Association.

Bruns studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (where he painted backdrops for Al Jolson) with Leopold Seyffert, Leon Kroll and George Bellows, and as a close friend he often painted with Grant Wood. During summer months, he occasionally lived with Leon Kroll in Rockport, MA or George Bellows in Maine, and together the men painted in pleinaire. Bruns was a member of the National Educational Association, Western Art Association and Cedar Rapids Art Association. After graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago, Bruns became Director of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, pubic schools (1929-1946), and toured schools to teach students how to draw and inspire them to become artists.

As a highly revered Regionalist artist, between 1930 and 1955 he exhibited throughout the Midwest and at the Art Institute of Chicago (as early as 1924), and he won many awards at the St. Louis State Fair (1930, 1931, 1935, 1938), the Iowa State Women’s Club (award) and the Iowa Artists’ Exhibit in Mt. Vernon, where this painting was exhibited in 1938. He was known for circus scenes (painting Ringling Brothers’ circus scenes), landscapes, portraits and rural farm scenes. He also illustrated for Design magazine, and was the designer/ illustrator for “Seven Ages of a City: A Pictorial History of Cedar Rapids” (1957). He died in 1970.