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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.

 
College Collage: Student Artists of the "2014 College Invitational," Opening November 8 at the Figge PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 30 October 2014 06:00

River Cities' Reader issue #868For the seventh year in a row, Davenport’s Figge Art Museum will host its College Invitational exhibition, a celebration of visual artwork by students from area institutions Ashford University, Augustana College, Black Hawk College, Knox College, Monmouth College, St. Ambrose University, Scott Community College, the University of Iowa, and Western Illinois University. Works were selected by the art professors from each of the participating schools, and 58 individual pieces will be on display between November 8 and February 8.

As Figge Director of Education Melissa Mohr states, the 2014 College Invitational “showcases the creativity and skill of local art students, and demonstrates the dedication of our arts programs in encouraging young artists to innovate early on in their artistic careers.” Seven of the exhibit’s invited artists, meanwhile, agreed to share some thoughts on their works, their histories, and their passion for art – everything from biblical inspiration to payment in sweets to the internals of a really gross tomato.

 
Art in Plain Sight: Halloween Decorations PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 08:45

1109 East Rusholme Street in Davenport. Photo by Bruce Walters.

Against the unknown, Halloween is our brave face. It confronts the lengthening nights and approaching cold of winter. It laughs loudly in the face of death.

Today, Halloween is often perceived simply as a kid-friendly celebration for costume parties and collecting candy. Though the holiday suits our contemporary world, many of its traditions are surprisingly old. Trick-or-treating, for example, became widespread in America in the 1940s. However, the custom of dressing in costumes and begging door-to-door dates back to the Middle Ages. Wearing costumes to ward off harmful spirits at this time of year is even more ancient. This practice evolved over the centuries, yet the core intent to transform one’s identity still captivates us.

 
Concentration and Synergy: Despite a Pending Sale, Bucktown Is Poised to Thrive PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Sherry C. Maurer   
Thursday, 16 October 2014 05:18

Jack Wilhoit

When MidCoast Fine Arts opened the Bucktown Center for the Arts nine years ago, the marketing played up its downtown-Davenport neighborhood’s once-upon-a-time reputation as the “wickedest city in America.”

Jack Wilhoit of Worldly Views said some artists who leased studios back then followed that lead. “It seemed like there was a lot of partying by emerging artists, but that didn’t sell fine art,” he said.

From the photography and works in Worldly Views, it’s obvious that Wilhoit’s muses are the doors and bicycles he’s encountered during his extensive travels – hence, his nickname as “The Door Guy.” Entering the space, you see an unusual table with a gleaming-refinished-door top that sits on a metal support of repurposed bicycle parts – arranged to look as if the framework is ready to move. The metal table legs on one end bend at an angle, as if to simulate an animal’s forward sprint. It successfully suggests futuristic robotic speed blended with the craftsmanship of the sturdy door and meticulously machined parts.

Wilhoit’s studio is the sole remaining original tenant at Bucktown. While the building still provides studio-shop suites for artists, there have been many changes. There’s a greater number of artists teaching classes in their studios; Bucktown artists talk about how their peers inspire and challenge them; and the tenants now include an animation studio and a store selling an unusual line of paints. When I was hired as Bucktown’s building coordinator in June, I was surprised by both the variety and maturity of the artists and artisans.

Wilhoit also noted that MidCoast reorganized its second-floor gallery to provide artists with more-affordable gallery spaces, starting at $30 a month. “Initially that space was treated as four partitioned studios and a changing-exhibition showroom,” he said. “About five years ago, the changing-exhibition gallery was kept, but the studios were divided into smaller areas for more artists to have a sales space.” Hallway display cases can also be rented.

That emphasis on sales, said Dee Schricker of Boho Chic Gallery, is critical to artists: “If it wasn’t important to sell the work, I could create my art at home. My clientele base was built from walk-ins to Bucktown.”

More change is almost certainly coming to the building with a pending sale, but a downsized MidCoast presence in the building will allow Bucktown to continue as an outlet for artists – and it should still thrive.

 
Different Paths to Similar Ends: Megan and Kristin Quinn Honored with Riverssance’s Harley Award PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Sherry C. Maurer   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 08:51

'Night Caravan,' by Kristin Quinn

One is a potter, one a painter. Megan and Kristin Quinn are sisters living and teaching on opposite Mississippi River shores of the Quad Cities. Their paths to art were different, and their chosen media put them at polar ends of a visual-arts axis. Kristin said that, in jest, a brother-in-law calls her “Artsy” and Megan “Craftsy.”

It doesn’t take long in their presence to grasp their deep mutual admiration and friendship. However, Kristin was nine years old when Megan left for college, and the age difference precluded any close relationship in childhood.

As the Quinn sisters look back at their family of five children, they see just a few shared inspirations from their time growing up in Bowie, Maryland. Their parents were educators. He was a physicist and professor at the University of Maryland who specialized in optics and provided access to visually stimulating apparatuses: prisms, lenses, even early holograms. “We played laser tag with real lasers,” said Megan with a laugh.

Along with plentiful lessons on the natural world, they were encouraged to ask questions. Kristin explained: “On long car trips, we passed the time with questions to stump Dad: Why was the sky orange, what caused hail, and how were tunnels built under the bay? ... We refer to these questions now as ‘Tunnel Talk’ questions.”

The inquisitiveness fostered in their youth is readily apparent in their art, and they’ve built similar teaching careers: Megan is a ceramics professor at Augustana College, while Kristin – the painter – is a professor and chairs the art department at St. Ambrose University. They will be jointly honored with the Harley Award at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 20, as part of MidCoast Fine Arts’ Riverssance Festival of the Arts at Lindsay Park in Davenport.

 
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