Should the point of a visual-art exhibition be intuitively obvious based on viewing it? Or is it appropriate that one has to read significant commentary to get the exhibitors' point? Whatever your view, to fully appreciate the new exhibit at Augustana College, you need to read the narratives.

The two artists currently showing at Quad City Arts in The District take their art very seriously. The artist statements of Eric Mart and Christopher Bradshaw suggest that these men have a higher purpose in their work; they seem to create art not with joy but out of a sense of responsibility.

"Painting flowers is my passion. It is my way to express life with a belief in goodness, life with hope." With that first line from her artist statement, Davenport resident Caroline England shows that she's articulate in addition to being a talented watercolorist.

According to urban legend, the young schoolteacher from Texas stormed into the powerful man's office and demanded, "How dare you display my drawings without my permission!" At 56 years old, Alfred Stieglitz was already taken with Georgia O'Keeffe's abstract charcoal drawings; now he would fall in love with the woman.

The new exhibit Objects of the Spirit: African Art from the Collection of Janice Simon opens November 30 at the Augustana College Art Gallery & Museum. Some of the pieces date from the 18th Century, but most come from the 20th Century, including masks, figures, beadwork, rugs, shields, and jewelry.

Just in time for the holidays, a variety of arts and not-for-profit groups have released new stocking-stuffers. KUNI public radio has just put out its fourth murder novel, Orchestrated Murder: An Iowa Mystery.

Akiko Koiso's ceramic sculptures have always exhibited fine craftsmanship and attention to detail, with a refinement, beauty, and a sense of proportion that attract me. Her works transcend their media, letting form, color, and beauty attract.

"Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship," said the ancient Greek painter
Zeuxis, in his most famous quotation. With that admonition, this review is duly cautioned.

Zeuxis is also a national group of professional painters who support the art of the still life.

Bruce Walters' Two Crosses reminds me of a walk in a New Orleans cemetery with the crypts above ground and the iron-grate doorways; it is a graphite painting that uses a dramatic portrayal of lights and darks to give the eerie feeling one would get while walking alone at night in a burial ground.

From the ashes of a previous incarnation of Shane Johnson's Blue Train has risen John Resch & The Detroit Blues. The Train's former frontman and bassist, John Resch, has re-teamed with that band's harmonica player, "Detroit" Larry Davison, and original drummer Tony "T.

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