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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.

 
Cuddly Monsters, Captivating Portraits, and Juicy, Gross Textures: The 36th-Annual Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, through April 22 PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Thursday, 22 March 2012 06:01

Jessica Teckemeyer, 'Fawn or Foe'

Jessica Teckemeyer’s Fawn or Foe is both a cuddly creature and a disturbing monster, with a lifelike aura that defies the porcelain from which it’s formed. In this year’s Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, the piece stands out as a strong marriage of technique and subtext.

Similarly, Kristin Quinn’s Flyway offers a modern sensibility and expression that differentiate it from an exhibition full of technical skill yet often lacking stylistic flair, nuance, and ambiguity.

While those two works are exceptional, there’s also a strong vein of realism in the show, and several artists conjure meaning through an abstract approach – but without quite reaching the resonant standard set by Teckemeyer and Quinn.

Featuring 51 pieces by 40 artists within a 150-mile radius of the Quad Cities, the 36th-annual exhibit is on display in Centennial Hall at Augustana College through April 22. Juror Joseph Mella, the director of the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee, awarded prizes sponsored by the Rock Island Art Guild and Augustana College.

 
“A Real Renaissance Man”: St. Ambrose Art Professor Leslie Bell (Sort of) Retires After 38 Years PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 15 March 2012 06:34

Leslie Bell in his office. Photo Corey Wieckhorst.

One minute, St. Ambrose art professor Leslie Bell is talking about his paintings – mostly allegorical scenes featuring women and girls. The next minute he’s talking about his students – especially the female ones – without having shifted gears.

“On a really basic level, I’m trying to kindle a spark of quirky individuality in each person I paint,” he said in an interview last week. “I don’t want them to come across as generic. And ... through body language, environment, to a lesser extent facial expression – because my characters tend to be a little bit on the deadpan side – even fashion or dress ... I want to communicate a kind of self-made-ness.”

He then says he doesn’t want to be cheesy – the simplistic idea that girls can be carpenters or play chess: “I want it to be more what we deal with everyday in the studio, which is following what you’re interested in, sort out the ‘should’ voice in you ... , acknowledge that there is peer pressure and that there are societal pressures and that there are laws, but then make as much use of the freedoms that you have to cultivate your interests, develop your interests, don’t be ashamed to be an intellectual, fight me as a professor ... .”

One can see that shift happening even more quickly here, in a single sentence: “I want my work to be really affirmative of women’s and girls’ abilities to create themselves, to stick to their own ideals, to find ways of proving to whoever might be skeptical of what it is to be a woman artist or just a woman that there are as many paths to maturity as there are people attempting to mature.”

This conflation is illuminating, as Bell’s artistic interest in female experience and identity seems inseparable from his teaching responsibility to help young artists develop their own voices. He notes that well over half of the students in the St. Ambrose art department are women, and it’s easy to infer that his painting is akin to homework, a way to develop empathy and connections with his female students. They’re also a way of leading by example, of showing through art a path to authenticity.

 
Art in Plain Sight: “Freedom” PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 14:34

'Freedom.' Photo by Bruce Walters.

Karoly Veress’ sculpture Freedom is paradoxical: Its wing-like forms are ascending and graceful from some vantage points, yet they look like ax blades from others. Delving into the lives of the artist and the humanitarian who inspired this work, though, we can begin to understand that these elements aren’t as contradictory as they first seem.

Dedicated in 2000, Freedom is located on the Augustana College campus, near the Denkmann Memorial Building at 3520 Seventh Avenue in Rock Island. Cast in bronze from a plaster model, it rises from a cylindrical concrete base to an overall height of about 10 feet.

The dynamic upper portion of the sculpture unfurls boldly into two fluid forms – giving the work its sense of motion. Veress explained: “In this design I symbolize freedom in wings, partly protecting, and sheltering, but foremost enabling us to rise above the daily confusions. These wings sometimes lift us up out of the monstrous historic context into a state where all that remains is just one commitment: to human values, to the dignity of all human beings.”

Veress’ words stem, in part, from his own experiences. The artist was a student at the University of Budapest while the city was still in postwar ruins and under Soviet occupation. When the 1956 Hungarian Revolution failed, he fled to safety in the Netherlands, where he would discover his love for sculpting.

 
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