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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.

 
More Than a Method: The Quad Cities Wood Turners Club and Jeff Stevenson, Through December at the Quad City International Airport PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Monday, 22 November 2010 05:02

David Johnson, 'Missing Pieces #7'David Johnson’s vase is missing large chunks.

In the current Quad City Arts exhibit at the Quad City International Airport, the vase Missing Pieces #7 is symmetrical but for the voids that appear to have formed naturally through the growth and decay of its wood. Their jagged, random edges echo the blotchy rings of the wood grain, yet Johnson has varnished the entire surface, making it seem at once broken and new. The vase is not suitable for its ostensible purpose and seems to question the relationships between craft, aesthetics, and functionality. It’s a striking use of the medium of wood.

The show, running through December, features two bodies of work: selections from the Quad Cities Wood Turners Club and mixed-media works by Jeff Stevenson. While the wood turners employ a relatively restrictive technique – modified wood in a functional context – Stevenson uses a massive range of media, from magazines to encaustic. The two components of the exhibit are different, but they both transcend the limitations of their methods: The best of the wood works (such as Johnson’s vase) have visual and technical depth, and Stevenson’s strongest pieces gel thematically and visually even as the variety of materials threatens chaos.

 
Past, Present, and Posters: “Hatch Show Prints,” Through November 19 at the Catich Gallery PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 09:53

In the Hatch Show Prints exhibit in St. Ambrose University’s Catich Gallery, the past and present intermingle through design. Art, design, and culture don’t move forward in a linear way; instead, they diverge, change, and return as new but still familiar styles. Typefaces from almost a century ago manage to look fresh in the hands of a modern designer, and a poster from the 1950s can seem almost prophetic in its similarity to today’s graphics. By presenting designs of the past alongside new designs with a retro bent, Hatch Show Prints reveals the connections between history, culture, and design, and their relationships to music and performance.

 
Death Is a Many-Splendored Thing: “Dancing Towards Death,” Through January 9 at the Figge PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Tuesday, 28 September 2010 07:55

Ivo Salinger, 'Der Artz'

One might expect a collection of images featuring the personification of death to be morose, dark, depressing, and grotesque, but in the new Figge Art Museum exhibit Dancing Towards Death, many of the works are instead humorous or thoughtful. The show is more about the uses of death-related imagery (and Death as a character) than death itself, with the skeletal manifestation conjuring a variety of moods and themes.

The show (which runs through January 9) was mostly drawn from a private collection and was supplemented with work from the Figge’s collection. The art-history connoisseur will appreciate the inclusion of big names such as Albrecht Dϋrer, Rembrandt, and Käthe Kollwitz, but the exhibit also features unknown craftspeople, such as the artisans who created Books of Hours. And the accessibility of both the theme and the imagery will provide a meaningful experience for the casual art viewer.

 
Your Roots Are Showing -- “Roots: Who’s Your Momma?,” at Quad City Arts Through October 1 PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Monday, 13 September 2010 05:53

Corbett Fogue, Untitled

Quad City Arts has hosted a variety of themed shows over the years – such as The Cat Show, The Dog Show, and The Artist in You – but the current Roots: Who’s Your Momma? reveals an emotional intellectualism in many of our local artists. Running through October 1, the exhibit features 49 artworks by 29 regional artists, and in a novel move, the exhibit has been divided between two venues: Quad City Arts in Rock Island and the German American Heritage Center in Davenport.

The artists who truly tackled the theme of Roots generated some thought-provoking pieces that make the viewer contemplate different aspects of the concept of “home.” While several works are too loosely connected to the theme, poignant and well executed art dominates. And the inclusion of artists’ statements makes the show accessible to the casual viewer, connecting the work to the theme. (Full disclosure: I have a piece in the show and work occasionally at the Quad City Arts gallery.)

 
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