Suscribe to Weekly RiverCitiesReader.com Updates
* indicates required

View previous campaigns.

Art Meets Body Art PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 20 May 2010 08:50

Mark Schwalm-Bell at Indigo Body Art GallerySome people would never walk into a tattoo shop. Others would never walk into an art gallery.

Mark Schwalm-Bell wants to draw both groups to Indigo Body Art Gallery, located just off the Centennial Bridge at 717 West Third Street in Davenport.

Schwalm-Bell argues that most tattoo businesses scare off a lot of people, and it's evident walking in to Indigo that its atmosphere is in direct opposition to the stereotypical tattoo parlor; the studio, which opened February 15, is tastefully appointed and offers plenty of breathing room in its 1,100 square feet.

The owner/tattoo artist said he wanted to create the vibe of "a comfortable coffeehouse, a spoken-word coffeehouse. I wanted it to be a little more urban, a little more bohemian, a little more educated, a little more art-centric ... ." The narrow but deep Indigo space is an excellent starting point, with a brick eastern wall and a high ceiling in a building that's nearly 120 years old.

But it's the "art-centric" aspect that really distinguishes Indigo from other tattoo studios: Its walls showcase paintings divorced from traditional tattoo style or subject matter. Indigo currently features the work of three artists, including St. Ambrose University student Meghan Hollister and Iowa City resident Jason "Ja" Strating. Schwalm-Bell charges artists neither commission nor wall rent.

"Our vision for the studio is that we want to have two separate but complementary lines of business ... : a fully functioning art gallery as well as a traditional body-art studio ... ," Schwalm-Bell said. "We want to try to distance ourselves from the traditional body-art community ... ."

Schwalm-Bell speaks too broadly and absolutely in denigrating tattoo-studio culture, and he can occasionally come off as boastful. (He claims that hospitals and dentists' offices "are less stringent about things [sterilization] than I am.") But there's no denying that Indigo is a departure from the norm.

Schwalm-Bell doesn't expect much crossover business; he doubts many tattoo customers will buy art, or that many art patrons will get inked. But he said he hopes that as "a rather unique crossing point between art and body art," Indigo will be a comfortable place for people leery of body-art studios or art galleries. He also called his business "a completely different spin on the second-oldest profession in the world." ("Any time they find a mummy with skin on it, it has tattoos," Schwalm-Bell noted. Tattoos have been found on a mummy more than 5,000 years old.)

Indigo features a bookcase with movies, including the expected zombie flicks but also movies appropriate for children, and most curious readers will find some book that piques their interest. (How many other tattoo studios have a copy of Little Women?)

Indigo also has a vintage card catalog from the University of Iowa. Schwalm-Bell anticipates that the piece will one day sit in his wife's office. "In the meantime," he said, "it's where I hide candy for my wife and for kids." Yes, Schwalm-Bell sees Indigo as a place where a parent can bring the kids while getting tattooed or pierced.

Works by Jesse Golfis

He has been tattooing for seven years, but it was not a career choice approved by his family, particularly his mother. He said he first wanted tattoos because of his Great Uncle Bob - a 20-year Navy man with three tattoos on each arm. "I just always thought they were the coolest things in the world," Schwalm-Bell said. "I knew I wanted to get a tattoo when I was four or five years old; I used to talk about it all the time."

That was no different from kids wanting to be a firefighter or a professional football player, but Schwalm-Bell said that his dream stuck with him: "I knew I wanted to be heavily tattooed from the time I was in high school."

But there was community pressure against it to go with the family opposition. He recalled that in 1991, the captain of his school's cheer squad got a tattoo, which spurred a discussion in his English class. "It was this whole scandalous thing," he said. Each student was asked what tattoo he or she would get, and Schwalm-Bell said he wanted sleeves. The school guidance counselor called his parents.

"Needless to say, when I turned 18, I didn't run out and get a tattoo," Schwalm-Bell said. But when he was a 22-year-old senior at Luther College, he got the tattoo he'd wanted since age six: the Incredible Hulk on his shoulder. "That went over really, really, really poorly at my house," he said.

It's taken a long time for his mother to come around, but Schwalm-Bell said she's now proud of him. And he argued that tattoos aren't much different from haircuts: "These are all ways that we change ourselves ... . Tattoos are a slightly more colorful and more permanent means to that end."

For more information on Indigo Body Art Gallery (including a tattoo portfolio), visit IndigoBodyArtGallery.com.

Work by Jason Strating

 
“New to Me”: Corrine Smith, through April at MidCoast Gallery West PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 09:20

Corrine Smith

The tree jumps out. And the buildings. And the still life.

In the new show of 26 works by mixed-media artist Corrine Smith, these mundane objects are nearly shocking. Smith, who teaches design at Augustana College, said she encourages her students to think of shape for shape's sake, color for color's sake, and texture for texture's sake. "I'm very much a formalist in that way," she said last week. "Composition is a stickler for me."

Her painting for the past three decades has followed those rules with abstract, sophisticated treatments of the most basic rectangular and round forms. ("I don't think that I have exhausted those shapes yet," she said. "I'm not the least bit tired of them at all.")

So even though much of the work in the new show (which runs through April at MidCoast Gallery West in downtown Rock Island) fits comfortably in her pure-design aesthetic, something approaching representative painting -- in her Shelter series and in the tabletop still life The Blue Olive -- appears to represent a radical shift. Shelter #9 is clearly meant as a pair of buildings and a tree.

"That's all really new to me," she said of this transition.

'Shelter #9'

Shelter Series #14 is not as easily identifiable, and Smith said the "buildings" can also be seen as two people. The tree is missing its crown. "I suppose I didn't put the little green top on there because it kind of freaked me out that I made a tree," she said.

 
Reverential Reflections: Emily Christenson’s “Rivers & Rain, Pieces of Denali,” through December at Bucktown PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Steve Banks   
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 16:30

One of the biggest success stories to come out of Bucktown Center for the Arts is Emily Christenson and her nature-inspired works. Some early visitors to doeGallery were impressed with her art and took a postcard of one of her paintings back to a favorite gallery in Washington, DC. Within a year, Christenson's work was hanging on the walls at the Fine Art & Artists (FAA) Gallery in Georgetown along with some of the big names of the 20th Century. Luck certainly played a role in Christenson's story, but if the work hadn't been so good and so captivating, it wouldn't have gone any further than being a souvenir postcard.

At FAA, Christenson enjoyed two years of strong sales, a solo show of her work, and a review in the Washington Post. She was preparing a body of work for her second solo show, Rivers & Rain, Pieces of Denali, when she got a call that the gallery was closing after 15 years.

More than a year later, Christenson is premiering both a new Bucktown gallery/studio (called "e|c") and the 10 works that make up Rivers & Rain, Pieces of Denali. The show runs through the end of December, and the gallery is in the southeast corner on the second floor.

 
Frank Lloyd Wright at the Figge: A Conversation PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 10:47

The Figge Art Museum will soon open its Frank Lloyd Wright gallery, a collection of eight pieces showing the architect/designer's "Prairie" and "Usonian" styles, documenting his shift toward ever-simpler forms.

The Figge describes the gallery as "a significant group of Wright's works that provide a chronological overview of his decorative arts and furniture designs.  Although Wright is a notable architect, he was also an innovative designer of art glass, domestic interiors and furnishings, an aspect of his career that is less well-known to the general public."

Below is an edited audio discussion about the new gallery. Participating are Figge Senior Curator Greg Gilbert and Figge Art Museum Director Sean O'Harrow; asking questions are River Cities' Reader Managing Editor Jeff Ignatius and Quad-City Times Entertainment Editor David Burke.

Download Embed Embed this video on your site Download audio file (mp3, 27 minutes).

 
Memory, Identity: Peter Xiao and Les Bell, through November 25 at Quad City Arts PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 19 November 2009 10:27

Peter Xiao, 'Guardians of State.' Click for a larger version.The centerpiece of the current two-person exhibit at Quad City Arts is a collection of four paintings recalling Peter Xiao's childhood in China.

From an artistic perspective, Xiao is rendering people more conventionally in terms of both figure and color, said Les Bell, the other artist in the show. In the past, he said, Xiao worked in a "cubistic" space, bending figures and objects and colors to meet the formal needs of the piece.

Bell called Xiao's use of color in these new works "smoldering," and said: "It's a much more complex level of narrative than I've ever seen in his work. ... I'm completely charmed by the drama of these scenes."

Bell also said that "you'd swear he was working from models to get these individual personalities."

But these works come from memory, and Xiao -- a professor at Augustana College -- said that "I sort of turned [auto]biographical for the first time. I always worked with the figure but was usually shy about putting myself there, because you want to be objective about things."

 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 10 of 35