Classic figure studies and traditional pottery grace the showroom at the Quad City Arts gallery in downtown Rock Island, and John Beckelman's pottery displayed with Priscilla Steele's drawings represent a return to style, shapes, and techniques that existed long before bits and bytes created the digital era.

The River Cities' Reader's photo contest is getting bigger. Much bigger. In its inaugural edition last year, the contest received roughly 80 entries. This year, we got 105. And while we published 12 winners a year ago, we're giving you 15 in this issue.

Rowen Schussheim-Anderson and Monique McDonald have several of their woven and beaded artworks on display at the Peanut Gallery in downtown Rock Island, and aside from a misstep into glib politics, the show offers two artists adept at their craft, even hinting at new directions.

Is Quad City Arts going to the dogs? Apparently so, at least from August 20 to September 24. Quad City Arts sent out a call for entries for dog-themed art, and the jury decided on 70 works by 48 regional artists now on display.

The skeleton is now covered in glass that sometimes looks green and sometimes looks blue, depending on the light. That skin matches the accents on Davenport's new parking garages, and the building itself - while monumental - currently appears closer to that aesthetic than art - boxy and blank.

• The Open Cities Film Society has announced its schedule for the upcoming year. The season starts on September 10 with George Seaton's 1948 movie Apartment for Peggy and continues with Daniel Mann's Come Back Little Sheba (September 17), Eddie Sutherland's Every Day's a Holiday (September 24), Richard Lester's A Hard Day's Night (October 1), and John Ford's Darling Clementine (October 8).

The Left Bank Art League hopes to have a strong festival this weekend, making up for a poor showing last year. "If we get good weather, this should be a really good year," said Bill Hannan, organizer of the Invitational Fine Arts Fair.

Recently, at dinner with some Quad Cities politicians and lobbyists, I was asked to name the "best" local artists. Feeling put on the spot, I waxed regal about the subjectivity of art and how critical acclaim and commercial success are but two measures of artistic achievement.

The current show at MidCoast Gallery West is all about transformations by artists perfecting their work and style. The exhibit, featuring 37 photo-paintings by Dave Sorensen and 25 sculptures by V. Skip Willits & Kristin Garnant, runs through June and is well worth the trip to downtown Rock Island.

The current show at the MidCoast Fine Arts Gallery in LeClaire features two well-known artists in the Quad Cities scene, and for those who know their work, the exhibit holds no surprises. Katie Kiley and Akiko Koiso have highly developed styles, and their work is of a uniformly high quality, using themes, colors, and shapes that do not depart much from the artists' recent compositions.

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