The Gift & the Giver
Born and raised in Iowa Falls, Iowa, Patricia R. Clark always dreamed of travel and adventures far beyond the city limits of her hometown. After graduation with the Class of 1944 from Iowa Falls High School, she pursued her goal to see the world and embarked on a career that would allow her to live and work in dozens of countries around the globe.
At U.S. embassies and consulates from Sudan to Vietnam to Paris to Kazakhastan, Pat Clark worked for the U.S. Department of State in many capacities. Her trademark enthusiasm and friendliness always helped her find friends and, over the years, she found she had a special interest in art. Wherever she was posted, she made a point of collecting a work of art that reflected the culture surrounding her. Sometimes she would meet an artist and commission him or her to paint a particular landscape or attraction. Other times, she’d visit an artist’s studio or gallery to choose a piece of art that particularly appealed to her because of its cultural connection. Unlike many collectors, Pat Clark never focused on one style, period or type of art. She looked for an authentic cultural expression by the artist and that expression took many forms from culture to culture.
The collection started with the purchase of two watercolors by a French artist on the island of Mallorca, off the coast of Spain, in 1956. By the time she semi- retired from the State Department in 1990, her collection of over 200 international works of art covered the walls of her apartment in the Latin Quarter of Paris, from floor to ceiling — lively paintings, etchings, lithographs, photographs and sculptures of many sizes and mediums. Each piece is well documented since Clark met or knew nearly every artist her collection represents. Pat Clark continued to collect art up until her death in November 2015.
In December of 1997, Pat officially presented the collection as a gift to the Ellsworth Foundation, the non-profit organization that supports Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls. The collection is dedicated to her late twin brothers, Duane and Don Clark. She hopes to provide Ellsworth students and the residents of her hometown with “a window on the international world of art.” A rotating exhibition is housed in the historic Carnegie-Ellsworth building, a facility that is shared with the local historical society museum, the Iowa Falls Chamber-Main Street organization and the Iowa Falls Area Development Corporation. A grand opening of the gallery was held in May 2003.