“Grant Wood’s Studio: Birthplace of American Gothic”

What famous couple hasn’t had their heads superimposed onto the drab figures in Grant Wood’s 1930 painting American Gothic, an image that reaches Mona Lisa levels of ubiquity? It’s been done often enough (Bill and Hillary, Paris and Nicole, Tony Blair and George W. Bush) to render the trick almost meaningless, which makes viewing the real deal even more refreshing. Featuring the tight-lipped twosome in a rare loan from the Art Institute of Chicago, “Grant Wood’s Studio: Birthplace of American Gothic” places Wood’s masterpiece in the context of 160 of his paintings, drawings, and decorative works. The show, in conjunction with a major renovation of Wood’s studio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, elevates Wood beyond his leading role in America’s tradition of regionalism to master satirist, subtle provocateur, and proud if critical Iowan. Come for the rare chance to see American Gothic in the nation’s capital, but stay for Spring in the Country (pictured), one of Wood’s best representations of the Iowa landscape, and Arbor Day, a painting that explains why Iowa chose the image of a schoolhouse for its state quarter. The exhibition is on view from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday to July 16 at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Free. (202) 633-2850. (Emily Grosvenor)