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Behrens Cook Book

INDEPENDENCE – Roy Behrens, Emeritus Professor of Art at the University of Northern Iowa and Independence native, has released a new 60-minute online documentary film about Iowa expatriate artist William Edwards Cook, and his close long-term friendship with American writer Gertrude Stein.

“Cook was born and raised in Independence, and the city (including its famous trotting horse era) is mentioned and pictured repeatedly throughout the film,” said Behrens.

In 2005 Behrens released a book, “Cook Book: Gertrude Stein, William Cook, and Le Corbusie” about Stein and Cook in France. The film does not duplicate the book.

“In writing the film narration, I more or less made a fresh start, and everything spilled out from that,” said Behrens. “It took well over a month to make this film, usually putting in 10-hour days. But I am getting faster and better. A lot of the research for the film was based on information I had found back in 2005. At that time I discovered that there are 250 pages of letters between Cook and Stein in the Beinecke Library at Yale University, in which they often talk about Independence. But more recently, I found photographs of Cook, as well as of his French wife, Jeanne Moallic, in online passport documents.”

Anyone interested in the histories of Independence and Buchanan County will find this film of value. The full film is available free online at <;.

About the author

Roy R. Behrens is a writer and designer who has taught graphic design, illustration and design history for more than 50 years. In addition to “Cook Book”, he has written “False Colors: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage” (2002); “Camoupedia: A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage” (2009)”, “Ship Shape: A Dazzle Camouflage Sourcebook: An Anthology of Writings about World War I Ship Camouflage” (2012); and Frank Lloyd Wright And Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie” (2016).

This film is his seventh. Most are 30 minutes or shorter. His very first film (“Nature, Art and Camouflage”) was made last fall, and premiered on the Independence Public Library website, where it is still available. All of his films are available on his YouTube channel at

Editor’s Note:

This story contains original reporting by the Independence Bulletin Journal staff. If you are not a subscriber, please consider becoming one because local journalism is only possible with your support. A subscription to the Bulletin Journal plays a vital role in making this reporting possible. Thank you for your support and helping us continue to connect our community.

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