Bucktown Offers Artists Recognition and Exposure Print
Art - Reviews
Written by Johanna Welzenbach-Hilliard   
Tuesday, 19 July 2005 18:00
Area artists agree that the Bucktown Center on Second Street in downtown Davenport – which rents studio and gallery spaces to local artists – is a wonderful way to combine their vision and talent with the sophistication and tourist draw of the Figge Art Museum up the street. It’s as if the citizens of the Quad Cities have declared, “Let’s get this party started!”

Excited to take part in Bucktown, Marla Alvarado and her three studio mates – Jackie Olson, Emily Christenson, and Helen Boyd – have established the doe Gallery as a means to pursue and promote their art. Said Alvarado: “Emily and Jackie had been looking for a vehicle where they could devote themselves to their artwork. We don’t have to sell through another gallery and pay commission. It’s a sales gallery and studio for the four of us. We have a digital pastel artist, an oil and large, abstract landscape artist, and I am a photographer.”

Additionally, the four women each bring their own applied skills in business and marketing to the venture. “It’s nice to have more than one person when you’re trying to promote yourself. We’re pretty excited. The grants we have received [a MidCoast stipend for maintaining regular public hours] have really been helpful. We’ve put that money into the space, into an upgraded door, track lighting, additional outlets, et cetera.” For artists to receive these grant monies, the businesses at Bucktown must be open 26 hours a week.

When asked what attracted her to Bucktown, Alvarado replied: “The big draw was that it’s going to be a happenin’ spot. It’s on the same arts corridor as the Figge; the rejuvenation in that area is looking up. The price is right and there’s a lot of energy down there. We’re really trying to promote the arts in this location.”

Apparently, the price was right for other artists besides Alvarado. Cheryl and Ting Phoun (a former Reader employee and a freelance Reader illustrator, respectively) of Morning Glory Studio were the first ones to sign up at Bucktown, mainly because the price was so reasonable. Cheryl also likes the location. “It is close to the RiverCenter, which is nice. With the MidCoast [gallery] there, they have so many events that it’s a good draw for us.”

Although the Phouns earn their living as graphic artists, when they met at Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio, they were each majoring in fine arts. They realized they truly would be “starving artists” if both pursued such an esoteric line of work, so they switched majors to illustration and minored in graphics.

However, the Phouns miss doing art for art’s sake, and they see Morning Glory as a way to get back into the fine arts. Cheryl paints in watercolor, Ting is a figurative artist in acrylics and oils, and they will both be displaying their work at the studio.

When asked what her vision is, Cheryl replied, “More recognition in the Quad Cities. Our ad in the Reader has helped people to recognize our name, but we want people to see the quality of our work.” The Phouns will also offer a variety of services including illustration, graphic design, and building renderings (three-dimensional drawings) made from blueprints. Said Cheryl, “We do the renderings for the parade of homes. We’re trying to promote this aspect of our work.”

For Trish DeHeer and studio mate Bob Cunningham of AngelFX, the space is more than just a gallery for promoting their own work. “Our big thing is that we’ll be having guest artists in the studio on a two-month rotation: painters, jewelers, sculptors. We’ll have studio openings every two months with food and drink, and we hope to get a little bit of live music. We’re calling it a studio and event gallery,” said DeHeer.

An abstract acrylic painter, DeHeer only recently began exhibiting her work. “I’ve been showing my art since January, and it’s a big step. You’re taking your deepest, most intimate expressions, and you’re sharing them with everyone. I’ve been really well-accepted in the community. You can’t really tell what your audience is thirsty for until you show it. We want to encourage new artists.”

De Heer and Cunningham, a figurative oil painter, chose to open a business in Bucktown because they were impressed by “the community’s involvement and the commitment that MidCoast has made to unifying artists and audience.” Said De Heer, “The energy that the project is creating in the community has got me really interested in becoming involved. Art brings people of all different genres together. I think it’s going to be tremendous.”

In addition to local artists, the Bucktown Center has attracted artists from as far away as Washington, Iowa. That town’s Paul Algueseva is a master craftsman who works primarily in bronze, casting his classical-style art for mausoleums, chapels, and cemeteries.

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Algueseva moved to Iowa 14 years ago with only a dime in his pocket. Today he enjoys a successful business in his own studio in Washington, and his works can be seen in the offices of major corporations throughout the United States.

Although he loves his home and studio, he doesn’t receive much foot traffic. “It’s not like I meet the public every day. And that’s how Dean [Schroeder, executive director of MidCoast Fine Arts] convinced me to move to Davenport. He said I’d get more exposure.” Algueseva is not relocating, however, but rather opening another studio.

Algueseva’s vision for his Bucktown studio (called The Eclectic Eye) is “to be the bridge for all the artisans to come over and work in my studio.” Visitors to The Eclectic Eye will have the opportunity to see Algeuseva and other artists at work. He plans to hold workshops for fellow artists and display all artistic media in the gallery. “I want to get as much variety as possible.”

Not unknown in the Quad Cities, Algueseva has exhibited through the art gallery at the Quad City International Airport. “I think that’s a fantastic location to show work,” he said.

When asked what he hopes to accomplish at Bucktown, Algueseva replied: “For one thing, I really am tired of being an outsider in the Quad Cities. I know a few people there and I’m getting better with names, but we don’t know each other. I feel like I need to be connected very positively in Davenport.”