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The MacNider Art Museum is hosting special guided tours on Saturday, in conjunction with the Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom, to highlight art from the ’50s and ’60s.

The “Rockin’ the Art of the ’50s and ’60s” tours will take place at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. at the museum, located at 303 Second St. S.E., Mason City. 

The tours are free and open to the public.

During the 1950s and ‘60s, “all the radical things that were happening in music, like rock ’n roll,  were happening in the art world,” said Edith Blanchard, museum director.

Blanchard said the MacNider has a heavy concentration of artwork from the second half of the 20th century, so “we felt this was an ideal partnership with the Surf.”

In the 1950s the focus of the art world shifted from Paris to New York, said Linda Willeke, coordinator of education at the museum.

Although society in general was socially conservative at that time, there was “a whole lot of upheaval in the art world,” she said.

This upheaval included the rise of abstract expressionism. Artists developed new painting techniques, such as the splatter technique made famous by Jackson Pollack.

One of the paintings on the second floor of the MacNider is by Lee Kasner, an artist who was married to Pollack and also used the splatter technique.

During the 1960s, pop art became the new movement.    

The museum has a Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup Can print, which is “so iconic of this period,” Blanchard said. 

The MacNider has a variety of work from other groundbreaking artists from the ’50s and ’60s in its permanent collection,  including Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Helen Frankenthaler.

The guided tours, which will be conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis, will be led by docents and museum staff.  

Those who go on the tours will be invited to take a side trip into the Bil Baird puppet gallery, which houses the largest collection in the world of the Mason City High School graduate’s puppets.

Baird began making appearances on national TV with the puppets in the 1950s. 


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