Wood's earliest work was in the Arts and Craft style. He was a Midwestern artist making a living by creating art for homes and public buildings. The corncob chandelier -- along with several paintings -- were done by Wood for a corn-themed room in the Montrose Hotel in Cedar Rapids. It was the first time he incorporated place into his work, a device he returns to in his later career.
Wood submitted the painting to the Art Institute of Chicago's annual exhibition, where it won third prize. In the words of our docent, the painting "went viral" -- as much as something could in 1930.
East Coast viewers loved the painting, perhaps in part because they considered themselves so much more sophisticated than this pair. (As a side note, Wood wasn't embraced by the East Coast art world as his career progressed. He was vocal about his dislike of abstract art, which was all the rage in New York. Wood believed viewers couldn't connect with in the same way they could with realistic paintings. For their part, East Coast art lovers felt his Regionalist style of art was a bit provincial.)