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Modern Relics: Steve Banks and Aaron Tinder, Through August at the Quad City International Airport PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Tuesday, 19 July 2011 09:01

The carpeting of debris under a Steve Banks sculptureLittering the bottoms of the display cases at the gallery inside the Quad City International Airport is a landfill-like carpeting – a mat of apparent cultural detritus under Steve Banks’ sculptures. It initially appears ancient, like scattered pottery shards, but a closer inspection reveals pizza slices, pie crusts, bullets, masks, and chunks of carvings, all out of earthenware clay.

We see this fascination with objects across this exhibit, among the work of both Banks and mixed-media artist Aaron Tinder. The Quad City Arts show – running through August – consists of three large sculptures and four mixed-media canvases by Banks, and eight mixed-media works on paper by Tinder. Their use of familiar objects makes this exhibit accessible, but their mysterious and metaphorical treatment provides depth.

 
Mature Beyond Their Years: The Quad City Arts High School Invitational, Through May 19 PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 05:01

Corrin Roswell, untitled

The 34th-annual Quad City Arts High School Invitational features 197 artworks, and that’s a lot. But the technical ability on display is exciting, particularly if one imagines the work these high-school students might create as they mature.

As a middle-school art teacher, I’m familiar with the long process of artistic development. During high school, students who put in the practice can draw with line realistically and understand composition and visual elements. Getting students to the point where they can draw an accurate still life, or mix the correct paint hues for a portrait, however, is a milestone in itself. And young people who can not only achieve technical fluency but begin to apply a consistent visual style, and express ideas and tone, are generally in the extreme minority. Although all students in this show should take pride in their exceptional work, only about a quarter of the students have reached this even higher level.

 
Bold Statements: The Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, Through May 1 at Augustana College PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Friday, 11 March 2011 05:25

Leslie Bell, 'Little Guilders'

You can’t miss Leslie Bell’s Little Guilders. His generous use of blazing hot pink and graffiti-style drips with neoclassical nudes is a compelling and somewhat mysterious blend of figurative, narrative, and abstract painting. Of the 56 works in the 35th Annual Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, vivid and conceptually layered two-dimensional work such as this dominates the walls, with comparatively small yet graceful three-dimensional pieces serving as complements.

The annual exhibition, in Centennial Hall at Augustana College through May 1, includes artists who live within 150 miles of the Quad Cities and awards more than $3,000 to 10 top-judged works. This year’s show was juried by Dan Mills, an artist and the director of the Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.

About half the work Mills selected is exceptionally strong, balancing technique, aesthetic, and ideas. The remainder demonstrates technical skill but lacks the innovation or conceptual intrigue of the exhibit’s best pieces.

 
Vehicles for Novel Imagery: Three Artists at the Quad City International Airport, Through February 28 PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Tuesday, 15 February 2011 09:52

Grant William Thye, 'Autumn in the Blue Ridge'

I’ve never seen trees like Grant William Thye’s before. The textural and layered brushstrokes commonly used in rendering trees are replaced by bright, flat, organic shapes outlined in calligraphic swooshes. The result is a fresh approach to the genre that’s part classical landscape, part abstraction, and part cartoon.

This freshness and presence of a clear style are apparent with all three artists on display through February 28 in Quad City Arts’ gallery at the Quad City International Airport. Thye, Angela Dieffenbach, and Karina Cutler-Lake employ traditional genres as vehicles for novel imagery.

 
Working the Land: “The John Deere Art Collection,” Through May 22 at the Figge PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Wednesday, 26 January 2011 08:39

Streeter Blair, 'Texas.' Image courtesy of Deere & Company.

Rolling farms stretching to the horizon. Salt-of-the-earth farmers. Tractors sputtering to life at sunrise. These are the images one would expect to see in the Deere & Company art collection. However, the Figge Art Museum and the agricultural-machinery manufacturer have put together an exhibit that delves much deeper, into a diverse visual exploration of the natural, the mechanical, and the interplay between the two. Contrary to what one might expect given Deere’s corporate identity, the show presents more than idealized visions of agrarian life; it frequently allows for artistic ambivalence about the industrialization of farming.

 
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