Lisa Mahar's Wandering Home at the Quad City Arts Center -- August 23 through October 11.

Exhibits: Friday, August 23, through Sunday, October 11

Reception: Friday, August 23, 7 – 9 p.m.

Quad City Arts Center, 1715 Second Avenue, Rock Island IL

New pieces by two gifted Illinois artists – both of whom create deeply personal works that reflect on experiences everyone can relate to – will fill the Quad City Arts Center gallery from August 23 through October 11, with Rock Island's Lisa Mahar presenting the mixed-media exhibition Rainbows & Sunshine, and Peoria's Jessica Bingham debuting paintings in her exhibit The Neighborhood Within.

Whether painting on canvas, crafting furniture, or assembling collages, Lisa Mahar uses bright colors to tell stories with her art, employing symbology and words in her art to send messages of empowerment to women. “Uplifting,” “spiritual,” and “happy” are other adjectives that best describe her work, as as Mahar explained in a 2017 interview with the Argus/Dispatch's Jonathan Turner, “Women as a gender must stand up for themselves against oppression from those who do not understand the precious gift we share with the rest of the planet.

“We all have the goddess inside us. A large amount of my work deals with empowering women and instilling a message of freedom of thought and empowerment of action. My goal as an artist is to produce art that people can identify with. Each piece tells a story. Whimsical, functional, and layered with bits and pieces of the past … my work (is) one of a kind. The playful element of surprise and the intertwining of brilliant colors and recycled refuse complete my artwork and give me great joy.”

Jessica Bingham artwork

Jessica Bingham uses acrylic paint, ink, and graphite on unstretched, raw, and misshapen canvas to express her feelings about love, loss, and childhood memories, and says that she is “interested in moments that reveal the harsh reality of the human condition, and the ways in which we mask pain.” As Bingham reflects in her Artist Statement: “Tangled thoughts of childhood and early adulthood are the core of my work. I am interested in the process of reflecting and recreating personal childhood memories through pairing happier moments with times that reveal the harsh reality of the human condition.

“After the passing of my closest childhood friend, due to drug addiction, memories from my youth resurfaced. Since his death, I have been dissecting our friendship, mulling over the years as it developed from innocent childhood play to complex and confused interactions of our early adulthood, a time he never left. Vivid memories of playing outside, building forts, and exploring the cemetery across from our homes are interwoven with late night bar sounds, long summer days, and tiresome arguments. As I wrestle with this new reality, my work has become an attempt to preserve those memories.”

An artist reception for Rainbows & Sunshine and The Neighborhood Within will take place at the Quad City Arts Center Gallery from 5 to 7 p.m. on August 23, and the exhibits will be on display from August 23 through October 11, with regular gallery hours Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free, and more information is available by calling (309)793-1213 or visiting QuadCityArts.com.

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