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Abstract artist uses ancient methods during CCFA residency PDF Print E-mail
Written by J Wilson   
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 17:41


By J. Wilson

Free Press Editor

Seoul-based artist William M. Boot arrived at the Corning Center for the Fine Arts on Sept. 6 to begin a residency, which will run through the end of November.

“Sometimes you just get saturated and you’ve got to get out,” said Boot of the heavily populated capital of South Korea that he calls home. An experienced traveler, Boot has gotten out a lot, and his three-month stay in Corning is but the second leg of a multi-residency exploration that will last at least through 2015. Boot discovered the CCFA on a website that matches artists with available residencies all over the world.

In search of a new life-route last year, Boot submitted 12 residency applications to places of interest around the world. He was accepted to six, and while they won’t all work out, he has plans to explore as many as possible. Operating roughly on three-month cycles, Boot began this chapter of life at a residency in Denmark, a place he was always keen to visit. His next planned stop, Holland, wasn’t going to work financially, so he returned to Korea before arriving in Corning this week.

“Coming to Corning is a deliberate action,” said Boot. “I don’t consider a large world metropolis as being any more significant than the small country town. To me, it’s a place where you go, and you can get a different perception on life and get a different perception on how people live, and the best of all is you can get a different perception on what you’re doing. It allows you time to stand back and have a good look and a good think in the peace and the quiet, and that is one of the deliberate actions for coming here—for peace and quiet.”

Traveling extensively since he left his native Canada at the age of 17 for Australia, where he has lived most of his life, Boot came to focus on art at the age of 37. That was 20 years ago. He spent seven years studying art at four different art schools in search of “a wider understanding of how art is taught, in order to meet different groups of people, in order to contact with different types of teachers.”

After receiving his Master’s Degree in 2002, Boot moved to Korea, which has become his headquarters. There he teaches English, paints and carves out a plan for his life and his art. Though he has traveled extensively for decades, Boot has never been to the Midwest. The idea always appealed to him and when the residency surfaced, he couldn’t turn down the opportunity.

“Outside of the US, the American Midwest has some kind of mythological status—don’t ask me why,” Boot said. “It has something to do with the news you get every year with the tornadoes whizzing through and smashing the place up. It’s something to do with the wide-open flatlands,” he said.


Inspired by artists such as Agnes Martin, Maxine Cole, Barnett Newman, Frank Stella and Saul Lewitt, Boot prefers abstract work, believing that it “opens out the possibilities of the infinite and the inevitable, the things that we don’t know, the mysterious, the things that are beyond what we know,” he said. “[Abstraction] holds more hope of revealing that or showing that or instigating a sublime moment where we might feel that, whereas with figurative work you don’t get that because the motif immediately centers your attention on something that is recognizable, which instantly takes away any mystery out of what the work is meant to do.”

Boot settled in on his preferred medium in 2000, and to this day practices his craft in a way that is unique among artists. There’s a deliberate strategy to everything Boot does, he said, except when it comes to painting. “There’s a lot of freefall there,” he said. “But within a framework.”

With an eye to the modern, Boot works in encaustics (derived from the Greek enkaustikos, meaning “to burn in”), painting with a blend of beeswax, resin and oil paints. Boot applies the hot liquid wax solution to his preferred Korean linen stretched over birch panels. “Wax needs a rigid surface, plus the linen gives a particular tooth,” he said of the setup, which helps him achieve a particular optical effect.

“What I’m doing is singular,” he said. “It’s very idiosyncratic. It’s distinct, unique. And that’s what keeps me doing it.”

Utilizing modernist techniques juxtaposed against a long historical tradition brought from his choice of encaustics, Boot’s work, which he describes as “geometric styles, open variation, geometric-styled art that is infinite,” possesses an archival quality that he says will last for centuries.

The Future

Never at a loose end for what is coming next, Boot’s time here will be spent adding on to his previous work, rather that approaching a new series of paintings. “There’s this continual opening out of a particular methodology,” he said.

In addition to settling into his studio space with his wife, Boot has spent time exploring Corning, looking for the ways in which this setting will influence his work. “[The paintings] are influenced by environment, and specific moods and feelings, but there’s a logical progression to what I’m doing,” said Boot.

Teaching helps to fund this lifestyle, and though living in southwest Iowa, Boot can be found awake at 5 a.m. teaching online classes to his students in Korea. Following his stint in Corning, Boot will return to Korea, then depart to Finland for three months before a trip to Canada, where he’s working on a collaboration with a friend with plans of an exhibition in New York City.

From there, the possibilities are infinite, as Boot has a new round of residency applications in the works.

For more information about Boot’s work, visit


Fire station behind schedule PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jon Groves   
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 18:49


Copious summer rains have pushed the construction of the Corning Fire Station behind schedule. This week, workers made preparations to pour the concrete floor. Once the floor is in place, said Fire Chief Donnie Willett, the walls are supposed to be constructed within two weeks’ time. The fire station is scheduled for completion in February of 2015.

Beached Whales defeat Pink Panthers PDF Print E-mail
Written by J Wilson   
Thursday, 28 August 2014 16:11

The 42nd annual Y-Teen Powder Puff football game pitted the Beached Whales (seniors and freshmen) against the Pink Panthers (juniors and sophomores) on Aug. 19, with the Beached Whales emerging with a two-point victory thanks to a first half safety.

“We tried a new format this year with one faculty coach (as in the past) and then student coaches from the junior and senior classes,” said Y-Teen Co-Sponsor Deb Roberts.

Two new SWV teachers were tapped to lead the teams, with science teacher Andrew Bentz assisting Beached Whale coaches Ryan Carlson, Colten Drake, Gunnar McCuen, Clint Mullen and Scott Vanderhoof, and math teacher Lisa Vanderhoof working with coaches Trevor Holbrook, Tony Klocke, Cody McMann, Ralph Morales and Hunter Pontius to guide the Pink Panthers.

Funds raised at the annual flag football contest will assist the Y-Teens in a number of projects and activities throughout the year.

Independent candidate looks for a voice in the conversation PDF Print E-mail
Written by J Wilson   
Thursday, 04 September 2014 17:37

US Senate candidate Rick Stewart paid a visit to Corning on Aug. 26. Photo by J. Wilson

By J. Wilson

Free Press Editor

Independent U.S. Senate candidate Rick Stewart visited Corning on Aug. 26 during a trip cycling through Iowa’s 99 counties in support of his campaign.

Born in Postville and raised in Maquoketa, Stewart graduated from Phillips Academy in 1969 before tending to a life filled with family, education and world travel, as well as a successful business, Frontier Cooperative Herbs. Stewart retired from the $40 million business in 1999.

“Gradually, I got irritated with what’s going on in Washington,” said Stewart, who became interested in the 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Stewart identified an inability for third party candidates to participate in debates as the primary barrier to election, and spent five weeks in Washington DC working unsuccessfully to convince the Commission on Presidential Debates to invite Johnson to the table. The experience “made me realize [that] these guys are not clever; they’re just entrenched,” he said.

Admittedly competitive, Stewart hopes to elevate the conversation surrounding issues during the upcoming election. “I can recognize a fight, and I think I can win,” Stewart said. “When Harkin’s seat opened up, I said, ‘This is a slam dunk. All I have to do is get into the conversation.’”

Stewart admits that this will be difficult. “I’ve got about as much chance as I did in getting Gary Johnson into the national debate. My chances are five to 10 percent,” he said. “But it’s not zero.


While many Americans agree that the United States’ $17 trillion debt is of concern, Stewart wants to force a conversation about an additional $204 trillion in unfunded national liabilities like Social Security and other programs. “It doesn’t take an accountant to know that it’s not going to get paid,” he said. “So what we should do is put it on the table and talk about it.”

Stewart’s second agenda item is to end the drug war. “They’ve never even won a skirmish; how are you going to win a war?” Stewart said of the expensive and deadly effort to stop the use of illicit drugs.

Stewart said that while immigration is a popular point of debate, he can end the problem of illegal immigrants almost overnight: “Charge $50 thousand for a green card,” he said.

Stewart recalled his experience in Central and South America when he said that immigrants can and will pay this amount to work legally in the United States. Stewart added that he wouldn’t fine or jail those caught employing illegal immigrants. Instead, he’d require the business to purchase the green card and allow the worker to stay and labor as they wish. “That is going to end illegal work on day one,” Stewart said.

Having served as a police officer in the past, Stewart believes firmly that demilitarizing the police is essential for public safety. Stewart said that one SWAT team could easily serve the needs of the State of Iowa.

“Ag subsidies aren’t good for America. They aren’t good for Iowa. They aren’t even good for Iowa farmers,” he said. With 26 percent of the best topsoil in the world, Stewart compared Iowa’s farmers to “Olympic Class” athletes in their skill level. “Give that Olympic athlete a crutch, and he’s not going to go faster or jump higher,” said Stewart. “It’s going to slow him down, and that’s what ag subsidies do, because they distort the market. You don’t make proud people by putting them on welfare.”

While wealthy farmers can easily spare their subsidies, Stewart said that even smaller producers pocket an unnecessary crutch. “If you can’t afford to farm,” he said, “ then sell it.”

Stewart didn’t expect that many would choose the option to sell, due to their resources and talent. “If you own land in Iowa, you’ve got net worth,” he said.

Stewart said that the United States is a nation of proud people, not afraid of a challenge or afraid to compete. Whether farmers or workers in any other area, Stewart said that strong competition is what has made the nation great and that the hunger for competition is what has brought him to run for the Senate. Before he can compete for that seat, he said, he first must be allowed into the conversation.

“Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst are not particularly strong candidates. They’re not imaginative. They’re playing the traditional Republican-Democrat game,” Stewart said. “If I break through into the conversation and they have to start talking about me…well, the Berlin Wall came down in three days.”

To learn more about Rick Stewart, visit



Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 17:42
Schools add new teachers PDF Print E-mail
Written by J Wilson   
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 19:00


Ten new staffers joined the teaching teams at Corning Elementary School and Southwest Valley High School on the first day of school on Aug. 18. Pictured, (front row, left to right) are Kate Jennett, second grade; Abigail McDonald, junior Kindergarten; Lisa Dolph, high school math; Lisa Vanderhoof, high school math; and Sally Woods, fourth-fifth grade; back row, Jennifer Berns, elementary principal; Lindsay Sampson, Title I reading; Danny Ahrens, high school business; Andrew Bentz, high school science; and Sharon Meyers, high school guidance counselor.

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