The artwork in the upcoming Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition might be described as in-your-face. This year's juror, Timothy Norris, said, "Visually powerful artwork rises to the top because it commands me to look at it - it hits me in the face. It is dramatic, absorbing, and visually ambitious."

Your vote also counts for the People's Choice Award at the 27th Annual Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, on display from April 4 through 27 at Augustana College. Each visitor can submit one vote, with the winning artist receiving a $50 prize. The artist selected for the Children's Choice Award will also receive a $50 prize. (Results will be announced at 3:30 p.m. on the final day of the exhibition.)

Norris, instructor of art at Muskegon Community College in Michigan, reviewed 280 works by 148 artists from within a 150-mile radius of the Quad Cities.

First prize and $1,000 went to Gillian G. Christy of Iowa City for the steel and silver relief Easier Now. Second prize and $500 were awarded to Leslie Bell of Davenport for the oil-on-canvas Making Contact. Marc Nelson of Rock Island won third prize and $300 for High Water, oil on canvas and steel with collage.

Honorable mentions and $100 were awarded to Sara Bell of Davenport, Travelogue, oil on panel; James Walker Henry of Burlington, Fish in the Sea, oil on canvas; Louise Kames of Dubuque, Three Branches, pastel on paper; Margaret Roberts of Iowa City, We Should Be Doing This Now, woodcut; Chen Wang of Iowa City, Existent - 2, digital image photograph; and Margaret Whiting of Waterloo, Organic Laws of Illinois, mixed media.

Norris previously taught at Western Michigan University, Glen Oaks Community College in Michigan, and Pikeville College in Kentucky. From 1992 to 1996, he was the curator of exhibitions and collections at the Art Center of Battle Creek, Michigan. He holds an MFA in painting from Northern Illinois University.

"There are pieces in the show that express a very personal vision, a singular 'voice,' and deeper significant content," he said. "I avoided content that was overtly cliché, propagandistic, or far too simplistic for our complex global existence. Instead, I searched out art that taught me something new about an artist's particular point of view in relation to the bigger world."

Sherry C. Maurer, director of the Augustana College Art Museum, curated the show. Norris "favored paintings among a variety of media, but gave the highest award to a sculpted metal relief," she wrote. "We hope this will encourage future three-dimensional entries.

"This exhibition reflects a vivid and diverse art community. My descriptive adjectives range from humorous, provocative, lyrical, anguished, elegant, rugged, or wry. It is a curatorial challenge to install a balanced flow, an annual gaze into one mirror for the art community."

The 27th Annual Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition runs April 4 through 27 at the Augustana College Art Museum. An opening reception will be held April 4 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., with award announcements at 5:30 p.m.

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