One of the most important things I noticed about the current exhibit at MidCoast Gallery West was what I didn't see. The exhibit features more than 30 works by nine women, but there is nothing in or about the show to draw your attention to the artists' sex.

Many of the artists in Breaking the Surface are familiar names to the Quad Cities art scene, and this exhibit showcases mature styles with a good fit and finish.

The group show, with works by Cyndy Gilroy, Kunhild Blacklock, Lori Roderick, Kathleen VanHyfte, Jeanne O'Melia, Betty Young, Maureen Seamonds, Teresa Mesich, and Cathy Bolkom, is well worth the trip to downtown Rock Island. The artists appear to be collaborating because they share a love of art and wanted to exhibit as a group.

My favorite work was Maureen Seamonds' Dance of the Prairie Woodland Spirit Dawn V, a copper and steel sculpture that stands about four feet tall. Half-inch-thick copper strips spiral up off of a steel V-base. The color contrast between the naturally finished metals and the shapes combine to make a very pleasing sculpture. Seamonds writes that the piece "is one of a series of sculptures relating to the prairie landscape. The copper surface reflects the pink sky of that special time at dawn and sunset when the world is infused with a subtle rosy hue. The timeless spiral form speaks of the gentle grace of the prairie landscape and its relationship to the human spirit."

Lori Roderick's Alleluia is a three-dimensional ceramic sculpture that combines sensual, rounded shapes and colors between bright pastels and earth tones, forming a mature figure that is infused with life. Over the years, Roderick has refined her imagery to a more finished result while not eliminating the emotional exuberance of her earlier work.

I was intrigued by the use of an unstretched fabric as a canvas in Teresa Mesich's Breaking the Surface (Self Portrait) , and the use of quilted fabric as a canvas in Jeanne O'Melia's Radiate Peace. The works are two of three cyanotypes included in the show. (A cyanotype uses a photo-print method to transfer a drawn, photographed, or blocked-out image to a medium treated with light-sensitive emulsion. In these two cases the medium is a white fabric.) Both works show great promise once the artists refine their techniques, and both integrate the figure with organic background shapes and forms.

Kunhild Blacklock takes the fabric art one step further by incorporating lights and several layers in Generations. This piece has small lights in the background outlining a figure, with another figure on the foreground. "Generations is my first try at cyanotype," Blacklock writes. "The back piece is a life-size image of myself; the two front silk panels are the shapes of two of my nine grandchildren. Each of the children drew an angel figure, and I incorporated the shapes of their hands from the youngest to the oldest. I wonder how much of me will reflect and stir in them once they are adults?"

Breaking the Surface is on display through April 30 at MidCoast Gallery West, at Second Avenue and 16 ½ Street in Rock Island. Works in the show range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

Support the River Cities' Reader

The QCA’s Only Free Press Can Really Use Your Support


With your financial support the Reader can continue providing uncensored, non-scripted and independent journalism alongside the Quad Cities' area's most comprehensive cultural coverage.

With your support, at what ever level and frequency you choose, the independently owned (since 1993) Reader will continue printing and distributing monthly as well as maintaining its staff and freelancers that keep the online Reader fresh and relevant.