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Hearts of Glass: Artisans and Students Make Hot Glass in a New Davenport Studio PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 24 July 2014 06:00

Hot Glass art, photo by Meghan McLaughlinWhen you first walk in the doors of downtown Davenport’s recently opened Hot Glass art studio, there are a few things you might notice right off the bat.

Initially, your eye is drawn to the vibrant splashes of color on the shelving units to the left: multi-hued glass bowls, vases, and paperweights, all located beneath a striking, meticulously assembled, golden glass chandelier that wouldn’t look out of place in the ballroom of Beauty & the Beast.

To your right, you see much of the studio’s equipment: a workbench and containers of colored glass and a pair of sizable furnaces, one of whose indicators reveals its interior temperature to be just over 2,300 degrees.

On the opposite side of the studio, through the windows facing River Drive, you’re treated to a view of Modern Woodmen Park so picture-perfect that the ballpark should consider using it on souvenir postcards. (Hot Glass is located at 104 Western Avenue, in the rear of the Davenport Printing Company facility.)

But if you turn around and face the direction you came in, you’ll find what is the most beautiful sight in the entire studio, at least for Hot Glass Executive Director Joel Ryser and his co-founder son Logan: a large sign on the wall listing the names of local organizations, businesses, and individuals who provided the money, equipment, and experience necessary to make their dream studio a reality.

Art in Plain Sight: “Cadence of Diversity” PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 11:19

Photo by Bruce Walters

Cadence of Diversity is a joyful mural – rich with expressions of many cultures that are balanced with an underlying theme of connectedness.

The 100-foot-long mural is painted on a concrete wall just south of Seventh Avenue on 38th Street in Rock Island. Working with more than 50 Augustana students, Peter Xiao – a professor of art at the college – led the mural’s development and execution throughout much of 2009, completing the work in the spring of 2010.

Art in Plain Sight: Blues Brothers and “Watching the Ferry” PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 05:20

The Blues Brothers. Photo by Bruce Walters.

On May 2, the life-sized sculptures of the Blues Brothers were back on public display in the Rock Island District after months of storage and repairs. The sculptures are seated in chairs near the corner of Second Avenue and 18th Street.

On the same day, Watching the Ferry – a sculpture of two boys seated on a park bench – was unveiled at its new site in Davenport’s Lindsay Park near the riverfront. This sculpture had been out of public view for five years, since its removal from near the Iowa American Water treatment plant when construction began on a floodwall.

Although the timing was a coincidence, the two sculptures share some similarities. Both depict two young men seated side-by-side and convey a sense of camaraderie. Both look to a past associated with the Quad Cities. Both are based on works in other media: television and film with the Blues Brothers and a lithograph with Watching the Ferry.

A comparison between the two pieces is intriguing because of this difference in their sources – as well as in their attitudes, materials, and locations.

Art in Plain Sight: Lindsay Architectural Sculpture Park PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 10:22

Photo by Bruce Walters

The Lindsay Architectural Sculpture Park is a grouping of structural forms derived from historic styles of buildings and homes in the Quad Cities. The park is – in turn – visually engaging, playful, and educational. It is located along the Riverfront Parkway south of the Village of East Davenport.

The park’s layout feels organic. Its overall circular shape is crisscrossed with walkways that lead one past – or through – 10 primary groupings of structural forms. The largest of these structures is a 30-foot-tall limestone tower. Its slate roof is constructed in the style of the Victorian towers and turrets built in the late 1800s.

Art in Plain Sight: The Col Ballroom PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Thursday, 13 February 2014 10:55

The current sign at the Col. Photo by Bruce Walters.

The Col Ballroom, at 1012 West Fourth Street in Davenport, is 100 years old this year. No other large ballroom in Iowa has reached a century of continuous operation. For that matter, neither has any ballroom in Chicago.

During the past century, the sign in front of the Col has been changed several times. The installation of a neon sign during the Jazz Age signaled a change in the cultural role of the ballroom. It was replaced when rock ’n’ roll became king, re-made when rock went psychedelic, and duplicated when there wasn’t a prevalent new direction in popular music.

Each sign had its own aesthetic, stylistically shaped by its era. Each is interesting in and of itself. However, they are all the more fascinating when we see them as a reflection of the sweep of changes in popular culture throughout the century.

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