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Art in Plain Sight: Campbell’s Island State Memorial and Peace Garden PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 07:44

Campbell's Island war-memorial bronze relief. Photo by Bruce Walters.

On Campbell’s Island is a war memorial side-by-side with an artwork dedicated to peace. One rises imposingly; the other is unassumingly low to the ground. Together, they give us a greater perspective on the area’s history than if we were to consider them separately.

Campbell's Island war memorial. Photo by Bruce Walters.Campbell’s Island is just north of East Moline, accessible from Illinois Route 84. The island is named for U.S. Lieutenant John Campbell, who was leading three gunboats past it on July 19, 1814, when his boat was grounded during a storm. While vulnerable, they were attacked by an estimated 500 Sauk warriors allied with the British Army. The attack led by Black Hawk and the ensuing fight became known as the Battle of Rock Island Rapids – one of the most western battles of the War of 1812. In all, there were between 35 and 37 casualities (depending on the source) among Campbell’s men and their families – including the deaths of 14 men, a woman, and a child.

In 1908, the Campbell’s Island State Memorial was dedicated on the site where the lieutenant’s boat lay derelict for years. The monument is maintained by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as a state historic site.

 
Out of Time, Out of Place: “David Plowden’s Iowa,” through August 26 at the Figge Art Museum PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Thursday, 31 May 2012 08:00

David Plowden, 'Bean Field & House, Grundy County, Iowa 2003'

Iowa is hardly renowned for dramatic landscape or architecture. One can drive for miles with no sign of life other than a road and a tilled field.

Bean Field & House, Grundy County, Iowa 2003 by photographer David Plowden dramatically depicts such a bare scene. Roughly 80 percent of the composition is sky, with sparse, fluffy clouds. At the bottom is a strip of dark land, with rows of crops running to the horizon. On the left side is a boxy house, which becomes an interesting subject when framed by the immense sky. The lines of beans bring the viewers’ eyes upward, emphasizing the void. The tininess of the house in the picture makes the viewer feel diminutive.

Plowden’s composition illustrates that the beauty of Midwestern scenery often lies in its grand simplicity, and how that alters the sense of scale. The stark flatness of the land, only occasionally punctuated by trees or farm buildings, shifts our field of vision; the sky begins to seems bigger, and everything on the ground becomes smaller.

David Plowden’s Iowa (at the Figge Art Museum through August 26) masterfully captures the scale-warping effects of the landscape, and the photographer’s 47 images of rural and small-town Iowa ably document the Midwestern agricultural aesthetic.

But he also manipulates and confuses viewers’ perceptions – of size, distance, plainness, and even time – through artistic tools such as juxtaposition, viewing angle, and lack of context.

 
Art in Plain Sight: “Lloyd’s Trek” PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 07:46

Stuart Morris, 'Lloyd's Trek.' Photo by Bruce Walters.

A large abstract sculpture, Lloyd’s Trek, greets visitors to Schwiebert Riverfront Park in the District of Rock Island. Standing some 20 feet tall at the park’s southwest corner, the sculpture seems to watch protectively over the many areas of activities: a fountain meant to be run through; a playground that combines digital game elements with contemporary slides, swings, and climbing structures; a checkerboard concrete beach; walkways; and a performance stage.

The artwork feels fresh and intuitive. Though the artist, Stuart Morris, said it is an abstraction of a walking figure, its playful balance and irregular shapes also suggest a precarious stack of blocks or a doorway to the park.

 
A Visual Menagerie: Diane Naylor, Louise Rauh, and Elizabeth Shriver, through April 30 at the Quad City International Airport PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Thursday, 05 April 2012 08:18

Works by Elizabeth Shriver and Diane Naylor

The phrase “the elephant in the room” is a metaphor for the obvious things we choose to ignore. In The Great White Elephant, Diane Naylor treats those words literally to explore our often contradictory, yet rarely acknowledged, relationship with the animal kingdom. Naylor’s work presents our simultaneous tendency to idealize and dominate nature.

The painting is part of the current show – featuring 57 pieces by three local artists and running through April – at the Quad City Arts gallery inside the Quad City International Airport. Naylor’s work is narrative and analytical, which creates a well-rounded exhibit when combined with the art of Elizabeth Shriver and Louise Rauh, who address nature with a focus on form rather than concept.

 
Art in Plain Sight: Charles J. Wright Transit Center PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Thursday, 05 April 2012 07:30

Irish memorial. Photo by Bruce Walters.

The Charles J. Wright Transit Center at 300 West River Drive in downtown Davenport has two very different works of art related to travel. One is a sculpture of an impoverished Irish family traveling by foot. It is traditionally figurative and meant to draw you in emotionally. The other – modern and emotionally cool – evokes a sense of speed on a highway.

 
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