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Art in Plain Sight: Civil War Memorials PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Friday, 22 February 2013 12:43

Scott County Soldier's Monument. Photo by Bruce Walters.

The Quad Cities have two prominent, highly visible Civil War monuments: the Rock Island County Soldiers’ Monument in Rock Island and the Scott County Soldier’s Monument in Davenport. Both were completed in the years following the war. It was not until 2003, however, that a monument to the Confederate soldiers who died at the Rock Island Arsenal was built.

The Rock Island County monument, located on the county-courthouse grounds near the Centennial Bridge, was unveiled on April 9, 1869 – the fourth anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The memorial was designed by Leonard Wells Volk (1828-1895), who briefly lived in Rock Island before opening his studio in Chicago in 1857. Volk had the distinction of being the only sculptor to model Abraham Lincoln’s features from life; casts of the future president’s face and hands were made by Volk in 1860.

The Scott County Soldier’s Monument, located in the center of the 1100 block of Main Street near Central High School, was dedicated a dozen years later, on July 4, 1881. Rodney Forsyth Carter (1838-1912) is credited as the monument’s designer.

 
Heavy Ideas with Elements of Play: "Alison Saar: STILL ... ," at the Figge Art Museum February 9 through April 14 PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 01 February 2013 06:00

Rouse, by Alison SaarDescribing the creator of the new exhibition STILL ..., on display from February 9 through April 14 at the Figge Art Museum, the venue’s executive director Tim Schiffer says that installation artist and sculptor Alison Saar “is kind of pushing the boundaries of what sculpture is.” Clearly, Schiffer has a gift for understatement.

In Saar’s exhibit piece titled 50 Proof, a vintage washstand sits below a glass bust of a human head, from whose eye sockets flows a continuous stream of black tears. In Black Lightning, a red fluid signifying blood is pumped, through copper tubing, from a bucket on the floor into a pair of boxing gloves on the wall. And in Rouse, a nude figure stands amidst a healthy assemblage of deer antlers, and cradles over her head another nude figure resting in deer antlers.

Well, make that antler sheds, as Saar is quick to say, “No animals were harmed in the making of this piece of art.” She laughs. “I don’t want PETA in there setting it all on fire.”

 
A Comfortable Place for Dialogues: The Figge’s New Executive Director Outlines a Modest but Tangible Vision PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 05:51

Tim SchifferIf you’re looking for excitement from Tim Schiffer – the Figge Art Museum executive director who started on August 1 – don’t talk to him. Instead, just look at the walls.

In our interview on January 25, the soft-spoken Schiffer articulated a modest plan for the Figge, but one that visitors will be able to see for themselves in “clusters” of exhibits that play off each other.

Schiffer’s predecessor, Sean O’Harrow – who left after three years at the Figge to head the University of Iowa Museum of Art in November 2010 – believed that the Figge needed to emphasize education above all else (including being an art museum) and that the endowment needed to be built from $5 million to somewhere between $20 million and $50 million.

Because the process of developing a strategic plan for the Figge is just getting underway, the new executive director didn’t offer measurable goals in those areas. But Schiffer – who had been executive director of California’s Museum of Ventura County since 1999 – has already put his stamp on the museum in a different way.

 
Art in Plain Sight: “St. Anthony Church Pioneers” PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Thursday, 17 January 2013 09:55

'St. Anthony Church Pioneers.' Photo by Bruce Walters.

In 1989, Donna Marihart and Ann Opgenorth completed a brazed-copper sculpture for the 150th anniversary of St. Anthony Catholic Church (417 Main Street in Davenport), the oldest standing church building in Iowa. Titled St. Anthony Church Pioneers, the sculpture depicts a group of men and women who contributed to the founding of the church and the City of Davenport. The composition as a whole creates a sense of community.

The figures are gathered behind a portrayal of a seated Antoine LeClaire (1797-1861), who is holding an open plan or map. LeClaire donated the land on which the church was built.

 
Art in Plain Sight: Two Murals by William Gustafson PDF Print E-mail
Art - Feature Stories
Written by Bruce Walters   
Friday, 30 November 2012 14:14

'The Mighty Fine Line,' by William Gustafson. Photo by Bruce Walters.

The first railroad bridge across the Mississippi (at Rock Island) and the establishment of industry in Moline are commemorated in two Quad Cities murals painted by William Gustafson. One can almost feel the wheel of progress beginning to turn in the depiction of these transformative events.

The Mighty Fine Line is a 55-by-45-foot mural on the south side of Steve’s Old Time Tap in the Rock Island District, near the corner of Third Avenue and 17th Street. Painted in 2006, the mural marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first rail bridge to span the Mississippi River. Gustafson, who teaches art at Rock Island High School, worked with Curtis Roseman – a local historian and professor emeritus at the University of Southern California – to provide historic details of the mural’s subjects. As Gustafson told me in an interview, historic accuracy in these works was important to him.

 
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