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Art in Plain Sight: The Centennial Bridge PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 12:02

The Centennial Bridge. Photo by Bruce Walters.

Connecting Davenport and Rock Island, the Centennial Bridge is one of the most beautiful architectural structures in the Quad Cities. Viewed in the daytime, it is a graceful example of modern design. At night, the lights on the bridge’s five arches transform it into the river’s showpiece.

The bridge was designed by Iowa native Edward Ashton (1903-1985). Its lack of ornamentation is consistent with modern design’s dictum that form follows function, yet Ashton stated that he built every bridge with an eye for the visible beauty of the structure. He designed more than 20 bridges – including the Julien Dubuque Bridge in Dubuque, Iowa – but considered the Centennial Bridge his best design.

 
Winners from the 37th-Annual Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 10:25

For the 37th-annual Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, the River Cities’ Reader invited winning artists – selected by juror Pamela Blotner of California – to write about their work. Their statements follow.

The exhibit runs through April 21 at the Augustana College Art Gallery (inside Centennial Hall, 3703 Seventh Avenue in Rock Island). The gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays for the duration of the exhibit. A reception will be held on Friday, April 5; awards will be presented at 5:40 p.m.

Pam Echeverria, 'Qutang Gorg'

First Prize: Pam Echeverria (Cedar Falls, Iowa), Qutang Gorge, acrylics.

Teresa Mesich, 'Bird Circus'

Second Prize: Teresa Mesich (Rock Island, Illinois), Bird Circus, acrylic on canvas. “Color, movement, and figure are very important in my work. It all comes together in the idea of ‘circus.’ Bird Circus evolved over two years and is the first in a planned circus series. I love the swaying shapes of flags and tents, and the criss-crossing ropes that divide space, and the over-the-top colors and costumes of humans and animals.

“Technically, my paintings are additions and subtractions. After much over-painting and wiping out, I study what is left to re-create, all the time thinking ‘circus.’ People become animals, lions become ruffled birds. Shapes change. Colors change. This evolution leads to constant surprise and discovery, until finally I am satisfied that the work is finished.”

 
Art in Plain Sight: Bix 7 Plaza PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Thursday, 28 March 2013 10:12

Photo by Bruce Walters

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Bix 7 race, a bronze statue of two runners was unveiled in 1999 at the corner of Fourth Street and River Drive in Davenport, in front of the Quad-City Times building. They are atop a five-foot pedestal and base on the eastern front of the Bix 7 Plaza, a circular garden with a walkway and honorary plaques that commemorates the participants and contributors to the annual race. The runners are Bill Rodgers, who won the seven-mile race twice, and Joan Benoit Samuelson, a four-time Bix 7 women’s champion. Both athletes represented the U.S. in the Olympics; Samuelson was the gold medalist in the first women’s marathon.

The life-size sculpture depicts the runners side-by-side, running nearly in tandem with a similar stride that conveys a sense of equity between the genders in sports. The figures are confident but not triumphant – not stretching their arms out in victory.

 
Art in Plain Sight: Civil War Memorials PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Friday, 22 February 2013 12:43

Scott County Soldier's Monument. Photo by Bruce Walters.

The Quad Cities have two prominent, highly visible Civil War monuments: the Rock Island County Soldiers’ Monument in Rock Island and the Scott County Soldier’s Monument in Davenport. Both were completed in the years following the war. It was not until 2003, however, that a monument to the Confederate soldiers who died at the Rock Island Arsenal was built.

The Rock Island County monument, located on the county-courthouse grounds near the Centennial Bridge, was unveiled on April 9, 1869 – the fourth anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The memorial was designed by Leonard Wells Volk (1828-1895), who briefly lived in Rock Island before opening his studio in Chicago in 1857. Volk had the distinction of being the only sculptor to model Abraham Lincoln’s features from life; casts of the future president’s face and hands were made by Volk in 1860.

The Scott County Soldier’s Monument, located in the center of the 1100 block of Main Street near Central High School, was dedicated a dozen years later, on July 4, 1881. Rodney Forsyth Carter (1838-1912) is credited as the monument’s designer.

 
Heavy Ideas with Elements of Play: "Alison Saar: STILL ... ," at the Figge Art Museum February 9 through April 14 PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 01 February 2013 06:00

Rouse, by Alison SaarDescribing the creator of the new exhibition STILL ..., on display from February 9 through April 14 at the Figge Art Museum, the venue’s executive director Tim Schiffer says that installation artist and sculptor Alison Saar “is kind of pushing the boundaries of what sculpture is.” Clearly, Schiffer has a gift for understatement.

In Saar’s exhibit piece titled 50 Proof, a vintage washstand sits below a glass bust of a human head, from whose eye sockets flows a continuous stream of black tears. In Black Lightning, a red fluid signifying blood is pumped, through copper tubing, from a bucket on the floor into a pair of boxing gloves on the wall. And in Rouse, a nude figure stands amidst a healthy assemblage of deer antlers, and cradles over her head another nude figure resting in deer antlers.

Well, make that antler sheds, as Saar is quick to say, “No animals were harmed in the making of this piece of art.” She laughs. “I don’t want PETA in there setting it all on fire.”

 
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