Conger Metcalf Exhibit Opens in Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

By Brady Smith, Anchor/Reporter


By Brady Smith

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Though Conger Metcalf built his career in Boston and spent a lot of time in Italy, a lot of his work came back to his hometown.

"He never lost touch with Cedar Rapidians," said Sean Ulmer, interim executive director at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

Ulmer said Metcalf discovered his artistic talent early, as a student at Washington High School.

"The earliest picture in this exhibition he did when he was 16. It won an award, a second place award, right behind Marvin Cone," Ulmer said. "It's a portrait of his brother Malcolm."

Metcalf studied music at Coe College for a while, but Ulmer said his contemplative depictions of people were his true calling.

"Frequently, he was portraying people, oftentimes young people, boys and girls, frequently isolated, sort of lost in their own thoughts," Ulmer told us.

Ulmer explained that Metcalf also stood out for his use of clay-coated paper, "which is a very unforgiving surface to work on, but he found a way to make it work for him."

This made Metcalf a unique artist who kept giving back to Cedar Rapids, long after his death in 1998.

"A number of the pieces that we have either came from Conger himself, or came from people who collected his work locally, who then donated it to the museum," Ulmer said.

The exhibit will be on display through May 11th.

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