Through Friday, October 7
Quad City Arts Center, 1715 Second Avenue, Rock Island IL
Evocative works by a pair of gifted central-Illinois artists will have their talents showcased at the Quad City Arts Center through October 7, with the Rock Island venue housing beautiful color-field paintings by John Nelson of Quincy, as well as arresting mixed-media portrait paintings in the Dictators & Dreamers exhibition by Jennifer Lynn Bates.
Based in Cedar Falls, Bates is an assistant professor of fine arts at Hawkeye Community College with an MFA in Painting from Pratt Institute. Her series of work investigates infamy, the ripple effects of power, human rights issues, and dreams of the seemingly common person. The mixed-media paintings contrast the faces of current or recent absolute rulers of countries around the world with the faces of immigrants, refugees, international students, and asylum seekers now residing in the Cedar Valley, and as Bates, in her artist statement, says of her current exhibition Dictators & Dreamers, "The Dictator is infamous. Dreamers are often anonymous. Now, they hold equal attention.
"David Wallechinsky of Parade magazine categorized living dictators into a hierarchy of awfulness," she continues. "A Top-10 List of the 'World’s Worst Dictators.' It’s the veritable 'Who’s Who' of the rape, pillage, and plunder community. The Dictators are inspired by these lists. The compositions of the Dictators are formally tasteful and conceptually offensive. Historical patterns fill the backgrounds to create “decorative” portraits, stripping the Dictators of their self-importance. The color palettes and textures are harmonious and even enticing. Yet, each piece portrays someone or something that is unjust, oppressive, and just plain ugly."
"In contrast, the compositions of (seemingly) common people, or Dreamers, contain humanity and evoke empathy and connection. Several questions were posed to each individual including, 'What are your dreams for your life?' and 'What are your dreams for your home country?' Many shared dreams in common with one another and presumably with much of their audience. It is in this way that the Dreamers series of portraits underscore how inextricably linked humanity is. Through the use of photographs and text, the compositions of the Dreamers are embedded with the elements of their dreams to visually tell their story."
John Nelson is a color field painter with a graduate degree from Northern Illinois University, and his work explores the personal act of seeing in relation to an abstract field of color. Each artwork is the interplay between two panels joined together and created side by side, where whatever is done to the right panel is then done to the left in a separate but pleasing proportion. “I want to create overall fields of color that have small variations within them,” says Nelson. He achieves this through the use of impressionist and dot-mark-making techniques to create his overall compositions.
The Jennifer Lynn Bates and John Nelson exhibits will be on display through October 7, with regular gallery hours Mondays through Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free, and more information is available by calling (309)793-1213 and visiting QuadCityArts.com.