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Art in Plain Sight: Schwiebert Riverfront Park and the Davenport Skatepark PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 08:56

The fountain area at Schwiebert Riverfront Park. Photo by Bruce Walters.

Playgrounds can be innovative, bold environments with intriguing sculptural forms: their colors bright and exciting; their designs active – imprinted with the rhythms of jumping, climbing, running, and hanging. They can capture our imagination as fully as abstract works of fine art.

The fountain and playground area in Schwiebert Riverfront Park and the Davenport Skatepark in its entirety are among the most compelling and visually exciting environments created for play in the Quad Cities. There are other wonderful places in the Quad Cities for children to play, learn, and socialize, such as the Family Museum in Bettendorf and the Fejervary Learning Center in Davenport. (Happily, the Mother Goose entrance to the latter is restored.) But they are inside or fenced in – not necessarily “in plain sight.”

The groups of playground equipment at Schwiebert Riverfront Park, on the Mississippi riverfront between 17th and 20th streets in downtown Rock Island, are like islands on a sea of blue padded tiles – crazy geometric shapes with Dr. Seuss-like chutes and ladders on metal stilts. Each has multiple entries and unique nooks and crannies waiting to be explored. Integrated into the playground are digital electronic games without instructions.

"Submarine" Commander: "Yellow Submarine" Animator Ron Campbell, July 17 and 18 at Bucktown Center for the Arts PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 09 July 2015 06:00

Ron Campbell's Unearthly Paradise“When I was a child in Australia,” says 75-year-old Ron Campbell, “the way you saw cartoons was you went to the movies on Saturday afternoons, which was the way the movie industry catered to the children’s audience. We went to see Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, but before all that bang-bang cowboy stuff, there were cartoons. And I remember thinking, when I was like seven years old, that Tom and Jerry were real, and were somehow behind the screen running around.

“And then, of course,” says Campbell, “I learned that they were actually drawings, which, like all kids, was something I liked doing, too. ‘You mean, I can do a drawing, or a number of drawings, and they can come alive?!’ And that idea sort of captured my brain for the rest of my life.”

Art in Plain Sight: The Giant Wheel PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 08:59

Photo by Bruce Walters

The Giant Wheel rises to a height of 110 feet above Modern Woodmen Park’s baseball field in Davenport. This exciting addition to the Quad Cities’ riverfront is part viewing platform, part light display, part landmark. It is also a part of our regional history.

As an observation platform, the Giant Wheel offers an impressive view of the river and surrounding landscape – experienced simultaneously by the thrill of ascending the wheel’s arc to its towering height and then, after a moment at the apex, descending forward over the circle’s arc. Passengers travel at a rate of 2.5 revolutions per minute.

The wheel is impressive in the daytime. But at night – when lit by its 57,600 individual LED lights – it is all the more spectacular. The changing patterns of colors are mesmerizing, whether seen as a passenger or observed from the ground. In one sequence, a ring of blue lights radiates outward over bright yellow and red lights on the wheel’s spokes to light the wheel’s rim, then it races back to the wheel’s center. The bright blue lights then spiral outward like a pinwheel.

Art in Plain Sight: Black Hawk Mural PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Thursday, 12 February 2015 10:21

Photo by Bruce Walters

The height of the five-story Black Hawk mural in the Rock Island District is what first catches our eye. Our attention continues to be held as we begin to realize that much of the mural is a painted illusion of three-dimensional space – blended seamlessly with actual architectural forms. Its most compelling aspect, however, may be the clash of values between Native American culture and ours that can be discovered in the work.

Remembering Bruce Carter PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters, Steve Banks, Bill Hannan, Sherry C. Maurer, and Terry Rathje   
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 14:00

Bruce Carter at a 2014 exhibit of his work at Atom Gallery. Photo courtesy of the Carter family.

When Bruce de Gouveia Carter died on November 24 at age 66, he left the Quad Cities art community with a gaping hole.

Portrait of Bruce Carter by his wife, Laura Carter. Photo courtesy of the Carter family.He was a visual artist, a teacher, and an art-store manager. But his largest legacy to the arts community was as a tireless promoter – for more than two decades giving artists of all stripes a forum to discuss their work on his Art Talks radio program on Augsustana College’s WVIK and, earlier, St. Ambrose University’s KALA. Guests in recent months included mostly visual artists, or course, but also a chef, leaders of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, members of the Bucktown Revue and the Prenzie Players, and a poet. His show was omnivorous in the best possible sense. (WVIK will host a special memorial program for Carter at 7 p.m. on January 15.)

He also wrote art reviews for the River Cities’ Reader from 2006 to 2008, and his writing displayed curiosity, openness, insight, intelligence, wide-ranging knowledge, and generosity. That rare combination, presented in approachable yet smart and eloquent prose, amounted to unspoken encouragement to readers: He made you want to visit each show, because he discovered and articulated how the work spoke to him. Like the best critics, he wasn’t judging so much as honestly seeing and digesting the art.

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