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Working the Land: “The John Deere Art Collection,” Through May 22 at the Figge PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Wednesday, 26 January 2011 08:39

Streeter Blair, 'Texas.' Image courtesy of Deere & Company.

Rolling farms stretching to the horizon. Salt-of-the-earth farmers. Tractors sputtering to life at sunrise. These are the images one would expect to see in the Deere & Company art collection. However, the Figge Art Museum and the agricultural-machinery manufacturer have put together an exhibit that delves much deeper, into a diverse visual exploration of the natural, the mechanical, and the interplay between the two. Contrary to what one might expect given Deere’s corporate identity, the show presents more than idealized visions of agrarian life; it frequently allows for artistic ambivalence about the industrialization of farming.

 
Art in Plain Sight: Bettendorf Learning Campus PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 10:46

Matt Kargol, ‘Passages.’ Photo by Bruce Walters.

Passages is a grouping of four rectangular columns prominently placed between the Family Museum and the Bettendorf Public Library on Learning Campus Drive. The column closest to the library lies flat on the ground. In sequence, the other three stand angled at 45 degrees, 67 degrees, and finally fully vertical. The effect of these 18-foot-tall, stainless-steel columns rising in a stop-motion progression is impressive.

Yet what ultimately catches one’s attention is the brightly painted sphere perched precariously at the top of the standing column. An area the size of the sphere has been scooped out of the other columns. These smooth inverse curves are painted in the same bright colors as the sphere – yellow, red, and green – and visually soften the angular metal impact of the sculptural group. They feel like a finger’s indent in a stick of butter. The positioning of these indents creates an illusion of an upward trajectory or path that the sphere has taken.

 
Art in Plain Sight: Sol LeWitt Works PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 08:58

(Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series on the history of public art in the Quad Cities.)

Sol LeWitt, ‘Tower.’ Photo by Bruce Walters.In 1984, a site-specific sculpture by the internationally renowned artist Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) was installed near the south entrance of the RiverCenter on Third Street in Davenport. Titled simply Tower, this sculpture was made of four 21-foot-tall slabs of concrete bolted to a framework of steel I-beams. These slabs, made of crushed marble and silica, were cast using more than a half-mile of Styrofoam strips.

Additional works by LeWitt, Wall Drawing #405 and Two Wall Drawings, were also installed in the center’s atrium at this time. Longtime LeWitt assistant Anthony Sansotta worked with area art students to make these 18-foot-long drawings. In all, roughly 30 Quad Citians helped with the installations – including art students, plasterers, carpenters, painters, cement finishers, laborers, iron workers, crane operators, truck drivers, and electricians.

Don’t look for these works at the RiverCenter, however. Tower was moved to the Figge Art Museum’s plaza in October 2004. The original wall drawings were removed from the RiverCenter, and Wall Drawing #405 was redrawn inside the Figge at the top of the stairway leading to the second-floor galleries. LeWitt claimed this new drawing is not a re-creation but is still the original artwork. He regarded his wall drawings as impermanent and repeatable. And his work is intentionally unemotional.

 
More Than a Method: The Quad Cities Wood Turners Club and Jeff Stevenson, Through December at the Quad City International Airport PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Monday, 22 November 2010 05:02

David Johnson, 'Missing Pieces #7'David Johnson’s vase is missing large chunks.

In the current Quad City Arts exhibit at the Quad City International Airport, the vase Missing Pieces #7 is symmetrical but for the voids that appear to have formed naturally through the growth and decay of its wood. Their jagged, random edges echo the blotchy rings of the wood grain, yet Johnson has varnished the entire surface, making it seem at once broken and new. The vase is not suitable for its ostensible purpose and seems to question the relationships between craft, aesthetics, and functionality. It’s a striking use of the medium of wood.

The show, running through December, features two bodies of work: selections from the Quad Cities Wood Turners Club and mixed-media works by Jeff Stevenson. While the wood turners employ a relatively restrictive technique – modified wood in a functional context – Stevenson uses a massive range of media, from magazines to encaustic. The two components of the exhibit are different, but they both transcend the limitations of their methods: The best of the wood works (such as Johnson’s vase) have visual and technical depth, and Stevenson’s strongest pieces gel thematically and visually even as the variety of materials threatens chaos.

 
Art in Plain Sight: The Black Hawk Statue PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Tuesday, 09 November 2010 08:32

(Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series on the history of public art in the Quad Cities.)

Photo by Bruce WaltersStanding on a ridge overlooking the Rock River, an 18-ton granite statue of Black Hawk dominates the space before the Watch Tower Lodge at the Black Hawk State Historic Site (1510 46th Avenue in Rock Island). This is near the location of the Native American village Saukenuk, the largest settlement in Illinois when it became a state in 1818. The statue’s commanding presence tells us that this was a man of great importance.

 
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