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Cuddly Monsters, Captivating Portraits, and Juicy, Gross Textures: The 36th-Annual Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, through April 22 PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Thursday, 22 March 2012 06:01

Jessica Teckemeyer, 'Fawn or Foe'

Jessica Teckemeyer’s Fawn or Foe is both a cuddly creature and a disturbing monster, with a lifelike aura that defies the porcelain from which it’s formed. In this year’s Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, the piece stands out as a strong marriage of technique and subtext.

Similarly, Kristin Quinn’s Flyway offers a modern sensibility and expression that differentiate it from an exhibition full of technical skill yet often lacking stylistic flair, nuance, and ambiguity.

While those two works are exceptional, there’s also a strong vein of realism in the show, and several artists conjure meaning through an abstract approach – but without quite reaching the resonant standard set by Teckemeyer and Quinn.

Featuring 51 pieces by 40 artists within a 150-mile radius of the Quad Cities, the 36th-annual exhibit is on display in Centennial Hall at Augustana College through April 22. Juror Joseph Mella, the director of the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee, awarded prizes sponsored by the Rock Island Art Guild and Augustana College.

 
Heroes Through the Lens of the Depression: “Beyond the Surface,” Through February 26 at the Figge PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Saturday, 31 December 2011 06:48

Abe Lincoln Enters Coles County, IllinoisArtists use certain visual cues to make a portrait feel heroic: bright, clear lighting, a low viewing perspective, strong or kind facial expressions, adoring masses, flying flags. These techniques cast the subject as trustworthy, powerful, and revered.

This is not how Charles Turzak did it. The print Abe Lincoln Enters Coles County, Illinois at first glance seems a traditional heroic portrait. A younger Lincoln stands in the center of the composition. The distant clouds appear to part behind his head, giving the effect of a halo and drawing our eyes to his face. He leans slightly to the left, muscles taught, in a pose seemingly moments away from action. He clutches an axe. His open collar, bare feet, and rolled-up sleeves suggest a hard-working everyman.

 
Illuminating Comics: “Graphic Language,” through December 11 at the University of Iowa PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 05:04

Enrique Chagoya (American, born in Mexico 1953); 'The Headache,' after 'The Headache' by George Cruikshank, circa 1830, 2010; etching and chine collé; museum purchase.

Graphic Language: The Art & Literature of Comics (on display at the University of Iowa) traces the origins of comics, from the evolution of graphic style alongside printing technologies to their conceptual roots in satire and serialized short fiction. This path is well-defined through the chronological presentation of the works around the perimeter of the exhibit, and the inclusion of early images that are not yet “comics” yet were clear stepping stones for the medium.

Additionally, Graphic Language highlights the craft and technique of the individual comic artists. When converting hand-crafted images to reproduced prints, the subtle gestures of the hand of the artist are often lost. The original works, up to twice as large as their printed counterparts, show these subtleties. The explanatory labels and signage emphasize this point, and note the individual craft behind a usually mass-produced and commoditized medium.

 
Solitary Journeys: Emma Farber and Zachary Cleve, through October at the Phoenix Gallery PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 09:05

Emma Farber, 'Zoning'

A school bus sits in an overgrown field, along with an abandoned car. A pipe bursts bright liquid in the upper right corner, and a bird’s nest with blue eggs rests in the lower left. Keys dangle from the pipe, and a flashlight shines on the eggs. In the distance, we see an ancient-looking door emerging from a smudgy hillside in a vague landscape.

In her artist statement, Emma Farber articulates her works’ theme of overcoming life’s challenges, which she communicates through the use of significant symbols. This painting, Take Shelter, presents metaphors for shelter (the nest and door) as well as the means to access it (the keys and vehicles). The school bus has been lushly rendered, with attention to detail, and the eggs have a candy-like shine that entices the viewer. The choice of symbols reads easily to the viewer.

Take Shelter is typical of Farber’s six paintings on display through October at the Phoenix Gallery, located at 1530 Fifth Avenue in Moline. Along with Farber’s work are five paintings by Zachary Cleve, a fellow recent graduate from St. Ambrose University. Both artists present thoughtful content and areas of strong technique but could benefit from greater unity and a sense of completion.

 
Portraits of Corruption: “A Time of Malfeasance,” Through October 14 at the Figge PDF Print E-mail
Art - Reviews
Written by Michelle Garrison   
Thursday, 22 September 2011 09:16

'A Time of Malfeasance #11' and '#12'

What kind of person habitually lies, cheats, and steals? In the exhibit A Time of Malfeasance at the Figge Art Museum, printmaker Virginia Myers visualizes corruption through the psychological landscapes in which its perpetrators reside.

Malfeasance refers to a public official abusing his or her post, either through illicit or harmful endeavors. The early 1970s, when these works were created, was a period of political turmoil – Vietnam, Watergate, oil embargoes, and economic recession. Although this historical context was a likely influence on Myers, the artist doesn’t reference these events specifically; instead, she abstracts the mindset of the participants.

Myers has been a professor in the University of Iowa Fine Arts Department since 1962 and has been working in printmaking for more than 50 years. The Malfeasance prints were made using dry-point etching, a process in which the artist scratches the image into a copper plate, inks the surface, and prints it with a press onto paper.

The show includes 21 individual prints, with six framed in pairs. The largest of the group measures roughly three by two-and-a-half feet, with the smaller works sized approximately 10 by 12 inches. Completed in 1974, this series was gifted to the Figge by collector Herbert Tyler. These works, located on the second floor, will be on display through October 14.

 
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