Our search for visual art that expresses the “bohemian aesthetic” has led to alliances, connections, and collaborations with significant artists and galleries.  Most notably, Ahlers and Ogletrie/Atlanta, Papillon Gallery/Los Angeles, RoGallery/New York City, and Dorothy Rogers Art/Santa Fe.  Dorothy Rogers has had decades of experience as an avid collector and esteemed gallery proprietor.  We have spent time in Roger’s Santa Fe home, and we’ve become friends.

The following is a quote from Dorothy Rogers on art collecting: “Forget what’s in style this year.  Forget what art your friends have purchased, what the Joneses have on their walls, what an art ‘expert’ says or what your banker thinks will be a good investment.  Listen to your intuition – you’ve been learning with that way of knowing all your life. When you walk into a gallery and, no matter where you go in the room, your eyes find their way back to that one special piece – your heart is telling you something.  Trust it.  Take action and enjoy the choices that you make for your own personal reasons.”  The legendary American art collector Joseph Hirshhorn (benefactor of the Hirshhorn Art Collection at the Smithsonian) is also called to mind: “If you’ve got to look at a work of art a dozen times before you decide to acquire it, then there’s something wrong with you or the art.”  Often the most delightful art collections are eclectic, united only by the joy that the owner – and therefore visiting viewers – finds in the work.  So what if you love art with a certain subject matter or art in every medium from oil paint to papier- mache?  What if you like art from any period from pre-Columbian to an art opening night at a local gallery just last week?  So what if you appreciate abstract expressionism and your spouse favors realism?  A lively mixture will enhance your personal environment and enrich your life.  Collect and enjoy the art that communicates personally to you.  There are literally thousands of “listed” artists that appraisers and gallery operators consider to be collectible, and that are appreciating in value.  The real worth is the pleasure that your works of art bring to you as they improve your own daily life.  Art is ultimately about life enrichment.

We have assembled an eclectic art collection here at the Bohemian.  We have selected a banquet of visual art that celebrates life, music, food and art as we express our interpretation of the “bohemian aesthetic – as we have come to understand it.  We invite you to our place, and hope you learn to love it as your place.

Art that we present at the Bohemian has been created by more than 50 noted artists from all across the United States and many other nations.  These art works span 3 centuries and mark numerous visual art eras, schools of thought, and aesthetic movements from the mid-1800’s to our contemporary artistic milieu.  In our collection here you will see realist/figurative art, colorful art of the Fauve movement, Modernism, Abstract Expressionism, Tonalism, Cubism, Surrealist, Regionalist, and Naïve Americana.  The commonality is that each was produced by an artist that has pursued and achieved their own unique style.  It has been observed that Grant Wood was known only as a minor artist during the first phase of his career when he painted in a French inspired Impressionist style.  When Wood had the courage to paint what he knew of the landscape and people of Iowa, he developed and then epitomized his distinctive regionalist style.  Grant Wood then achieved international success and recognition as an artist with his own creative vision.

A number of artists in our permanent collection have been students or faculty at the Art Students League in New York City.  For nearly 150 years since its founding in 1875, the League has served as a creative vortex that has fostered the development of scores of the most acclaimed American artists.  This commonality was not sought out consciously in our collection; however, as we have prepared the biographies of the artists included in the collection here at the Bohemian, we have discovered this unifying thread.  Perhaps we have a natural affinity with the underlying aesthetic sensibility that has guided the League for more than a century.

Much of the art on our walls are one and only treasures – an original signed by the same hand that painted it.  If any given work here at the Bohemian is not an original, it is usually a rare, limited issue lithograph or serigraph, again created by and signed by the artist.  We have carried out a dedicated effort to document the provenance and authenticity of each work of art.  Many of the artists in this collection have lived and worked in some of the most legendary bohemian enclaves over a wide variety of times and places: bohemian districts of Paris and other European cities, Greenwich Village and the East Village in New York City, as well as New Orleans.  As we have researched about the artists that created the works that are now on our walls, it is as if we have gotten to know them as friends – even though many of them have passed many years ago.  Their inspiration lives on here at the Bohemian.  A work of art is a living legacy that is passed from one generation to the next.  Often it is stated in reference to an old building: “oh, if only these walls could talk!”  Here at the Bohemian we believe that our walls do speak for themselves.  We present all of this in our historic building in the New Bohemia district for your enjoyment.

As Grant Wood, Marvin Cone, and Conger Metcalf have shown, great art, that has gained international recognition, is also created in our own city of Cedar Rapids just as well as other places.  Here at the Bohemian, we work to create an atmosphere that will stimulate your own creative process.  The most important aspect of the “bohemian aesthetic,” from our point of view, is to be courageous and authentic as you create your own unique style of art as you choose your own way of living.  Our attitude at the Bohemian is to do what your own heart, soul, and intellect call you to do.

Our motivation in this endeavor is to have art that is fully integrated into our décor and cafe environment.  However, one does need to be a connoisseur or art historian to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere.  For those of you that do become intrigued with the artists in our collection, and want to know more, we welcome any questions as you learn more about this eclectic gathering of artwork.  In the following pages you will find brief biographies of the artists whose work we celebrate.  The Bohemian is an immersive experience.  This place weaves together the strands of cuisine, culture, art, and music.  We welcome you.  We hope you enjoy this space and come back often with your friends, family and associates.