"We don't know what the top on this is," said Dean Schroeder, executive director of MidCoast Fine Arts.
ArtStroll, scheduled to run from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, August 2, in downtown Davenport, is a one-of-a-kind happening in the United States, Schroeder claims - a single event that brings together nearly all of the area's not-for-profit arts organizations, no matter their size and specialty. The event is a celebration of the Midwest Arts Mecca effort, a joint-marketing concept that pulls together local arts and cultural organizations to show residents and visitors the size, variety, unity, and vibrancy of the area's arts community.
The party covers four blocks of Second Street, from Harrison on the west to Pershing Avenue on the east, and includes entertainment and presentations on three stages throughout the evening.
The number of presenting arts organizations has grown from 13 last year to 18 this year, with the additions of City Opera Company of the Quad Cities, the Midwest Writing Center, the Quad Cities Juggling Club, the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Society, and the Greater Quad Cities Catfish Jazz Society. While ArtStroll started with arts organizations with a presence in downtown Davenport, it has taken off since then. "It just grew," Schroeder said. "In many circumstances, they [arts groups] approached us" about participating.
In addition, the event has gone from approximately 40 artists demonstrating their skills on the street last year to a number in the mid-fifties. "We're still getting calls," Schroeder said. "That's good energy."
ArtStroll also features open houses and hors d'oeuvres at a variety of downtown businesses: U.S. Bank, Subway, The Gift Basket Company, The Radisson Quad City Plaza Hotel, the River Renaissance Studio, Major Art & Hobby Center, Paragon Commercial Interiors, and Veit's Vettes & Collectors Cars. Video presentations will also be shown at Junior Achievement and the River Renaissance Studio. And food and drink vendors will be selling everything from tacos and pork chops to beer and wine, said Kristy Adams of DavenportOne, which is helping coordinate ArtStroll.
As in previous years, there will also be an auction of the painted street banners that have been hung along Second Street, along with the newly painted Art-O-Mobile, giant kaleidoscopes, and a group snapshot of the area's literary artists - the third installment of the Great Day in the Quad Cities project. (Visual artists and musicians were featured in the first two years of the event.) Registration for the photograph begins at 5 p.m., with the picture scheduled for 5:45 p.m. near the east stage by Iowa American Water Company.
Also this year, the winner of the downtown Davenport sculpture Best in Show competition will be announced. The presentation will be made by the Riverboat Development Authority's Mary Ellen Chamberlin at 5:15 p.m. at the center stage. Tom Lytle of Knoxville, Illinois, will be awarded $1,000 for his work The Gossips, which is on display on the north side of Second Street between Main and Brady streets. The sculpture is one of eight that was installed in May at various locations throughout the downtown area as part of a public-art program started by DavenportOne. (See "Sculpture on 2nd," River Cities' Reader Issue 375, May 22, 2002.) The sculptures were judged by 20 downtown businesses and a panel of educators and arts professionals.
The program, which was administered by Quad City Arts, has been a hit among artists and businesses, said Lori Roderick, that organization's community arts administrator. "The artists have been very happy," Roderick said.
The pieces in the program will be on display through December and are all for sale. (It's hoped that downtown businesses will purchase the works and keep them on permanent display.)
The sculptures provide a perfect backdrop for the ArtStroll celebration. Combined with the planned construction of the $30 million Figge Arts Center and the River Music Center (both on Second Street), they show a growing arts presence in downtown Davenport. "This is the event that recognizes all those cultural investments," Schroeder said.
For more information about ArtStroll, visit (http://www.artsmecca.org).