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items tagged with Figge Art Museum

Out of Time, Out of Place: “David Plowden’s Iowa,” through August 26 at the Figge Art Museum
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Art

Category: Reviews

2012-05-31 14:00:27

David Plowden, 'Bean Field & House, Grundy County, Iowa 2003'

Iowa is hardly renowned for dramatic landscape or architecture. One can drive for miles with no sign of life other than a road and a tilled field.

Bean Field & House, Grundy County, Iowa 2003 by photographer David Plowden dramatically depicts such a bare scene. Roughly 80 percent of the composition is sky, with sparse, fluffy clouds. At the bottom is a strip of dark land, with rows of crops running to the horizon. On the left side is a boxy house, which becomes an interesting subject when framed by the immense sky. The lines of beans bring the viewers’ eyes upward, emphasizing the void. The tininess of the house in the picture makes the viewer feel diminutive.

Plowden’s composition illustrates that the beauty of Midwestern scenery often lies in its grand simplicity, and how that alters the sense of scale. The stark flatness of the land, only occasionally punctuated by trees or farm buildings, shifts our field of vision; the sky begins to seems bigger, and everything on the ground becomes smaller.

David Plowden’s Iowa (at the Figge Art Museum through August 26) masterfully captures the scale-warping effects of the landscape, and the photographer’s 47 images of rural and small-town Iowa ably document the Midwestern agricultural aesthetic.

But he also manipulates and confuses viewers’ perceptions – of size, distance, plainness, and even time – through artistic tools such as juxtaposition, viewing angle, and lack of context.


Read More About Out Of Time, Out Of Place: “David Plowden’S Iowa,” Through August 26 At The Figge Art Museum...


Symphony Spin-Off: The Lyrebird Ensemble, January 21 at the Figge Art Museum
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-01-11 18:55:01

The Lyrebird Ensemble's Lillian Lau and Ellen HuntingtonNot long after meeting through their participation in the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, second flutist Ellen Huntington and principal harpist Lillian Lau decided to form their own two-person ensemble. Yet while they knew they had more than enough flute-and-harp repertoire to sustain a professional partnership, what they didn’t have was a name.


Read More About Symphony Spin-Off: The Lyrebird Ensemble, January 21 At The Figge Art Museum...


Portraits of Corruption: “A Time of Malfeasance,” Through October 14 at the Figge
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Art

Category: Reviews

2011-09-22 15:16:52

'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.


Read More About Portraits Of Corruption: “A Time Of Malfeasance,” Through October 14 At The Figge...


Working the Land: “The John Deere Art Collection,” Through May 22 at the Figge
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Art

Category: Reviews

2011-01-26 14:39:39

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.


Read More About Working The Land: “The John Deere Art Collection,” Through May 22 At The Figge...


The October Country: Bruce Walters’ “Halloween Flight” and “Vultus”
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Art

Category: Feature Stories

2010-10-21 13:32:31

'Halloween Flight'

It is with a laugh that Bruce Walters says, “There’s no lightness in me.”

Walters, a professor of art at Western Illinois University, was at Quad City Arts discussing Halloween Flight, an imposing collection comprising five distinct bodies of work employing autumnal motifs: a story of drawings from which the exhibit draws its name; selections from his Changelings series of drawings of masked people; a pair of lenticular prints (which create the illusion of motion based on the viewer’s changing perspective); 15-foot-tall banner paintings under the title Sentries; and the Vultus projected video of 100 mask photographs.

His next project? A series based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Walters might claim that he’s obsessed with the dark imagery associated with Halloween – with its origins in the change of seasons from summer to fall, the ancient belief that spirits could enter the world of the living during this transitional period, and fall celebrations of the dead.

'Changelings'

Yet one only needs to look at the variety of themes invoked in the work to see that Walters is more interested in exploring the fullness of the holiday than one particular aspect of it, and that it’s not all darkness. The Halloween Flight story is simple, nostalgic, and quaint – Walters called it “idyllic” – using a child’s vocabulary of motifs (a black cat, the moon, a graveyard, a ghost, trick-or-treaters) in evocative, lovingly detailed drawings. At the other end of the spectrum is Vultus, quietly sinister in its sequence of stark, high-contrast photos of masks, disturbing in both its vividness and inscrutable blankness. (In addition to being shown inside Quad City Arts for this exhibit – which runs through November 19 – Vultus will be projected outdoors at the Figge, Quad City Arts, and three other locations over the next few weeks.)


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