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Promissory Notes of a Better Life: Martin Mull, Adventures in a Temperate Climate, Oct. 28 - Jan. 21 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 17 October 2006 22:41

Reader issue #603In the 1985 HBO mockumentary The History of White People in America, co-writer and host Martin Mull offered the world mayonnaise-loving WASPs - suburbanites who had lost any sense of their roots, to the point that one child's understanding of his own heritage was limited to the streets on which he and his parents had lived.

White people, the show seemed to be saying, are beyond ethnicity and culture.

Mull doesn't see a meaningful connection between that work and his paintings, which will be shown at the Figge Art Museum in a retrospective that opens October 28. The only link, he said in an interview last month, is that they reflect his upbringing in Ohio. "It comes from the same vein," he said, "the same mother lode."

Lucky 13: Great Mask Auction: Saturday, October 21, at the Bucktown Center for the Arts PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Tuesday, 17 October 2006 22:38

artwork by Elizabeth Shriver It has always been a nomadic monster, roaming the Quad Cities (usually Rock Island) in search of arts patrons. In recent years, it has squatted at The Villa, the McKesson building, and (most recently) the Rocket Theatre.

Now, in its 13th year, it has taken up temporary residence across the river in Bucktown, and it has also mutated. What was once a single-minded creature - all about selling art - has now evolved into something of an entertainer. To its already formidable arsenal it has added magic and improvisational comedy and a haunted dungeon.

It is, of course, MidCoast Fine Arts' Great Mask Halloween Bash & Fine Art Auction, scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 21, at the Bucktown Center for the Arts (225 East Second Street in downtown Davenport).

Mixed Colors, Mixed Messages: Church | State, Through October at Bucktown Center for the Arts PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 September 2006 23:00


Kathleen Van Hyfte's "Interference" When Joe Kelley was organizing the current Church | State exhibit for the Bucktown Center for the Arts, artist Les Bell asked him: "Is this going to be a blue show or a red show?" Kelley recalled.

In an interview this week, Kelley said he was hoping to find something in between: "I was hoping it would be a purple show."

It's curious that two arenas that are often best kept separated - art and politics - share the language of color. Blue signifies the Democrats on the electoral map, and red the Republicans. And red used to represent the threat of communism, whose adherents were of course called pinkos.

Yet those color labels reduce complex subjects and issues - even the populations of entire regions - and rob them of nuance.

The Enigmatic Nude: Les Bell, Through October at Leger Gallery PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 September 2006 22:58

"Genre Chaos" Les Bell is well-known in the Quad Cities area for his teaching at St. Ambrose University, his wide intelligence, and his colorful and sensitive use of the nude in his art. There are few artists who can so easily paint the human figure as the primary subject of their work. The new Leger Gallery, in downtown Davenport, is presently hosting a 10-year retrospective of his paintings.

In Bell's world, the nude form is an artistic style, a psychological mystery, and a symbol. He is painting women in their many relationships and roles - from strong to vulnerable, from innocent to wise, and from beautiful to detached. She appears as a nervous young girl looking out from behind a curtain, a busy young woman at the beach on her cell phone, a calm, dark-haired female eyeing her companion, a distressed woman turning away, an intense, worldly lady erotically drying herself on a beach, a shy young girl, a young maiden holding snakes, a waif, a French courtesan, a Spanish dancer, and many more.

Mysterious Ways: "The Architect’s Brother," through October 29 at the Figge Art Museum PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 September 2006 22:44

Mending the Earth The images of Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison - at the Figge Art Museum through October 29 - transport us through narrative image to a world that is parallel to our own, but oddly vacant and visually strange, owing largely to things being out of scale, a lack of color, and metaphorical structures such as gears turning beneath the surface of the earth.

Where exactly these worlds exist is unclear, but the place suggests a 19th Century country where an impoverished inventor is trying to build new machines out of scrap parts. Or it may be a future place after an environmental disaster that is populated by a sole survivor who is trying to save what he can while being over-equipped with archaic tools and under-equipped with appropriate technology. The message seems to be that the task before him is enormous, and the odds of success are in question, at best.

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