In the true “spirit” of Christmas in July, Quad City Arts announces that the trees will be returning for the holidays this year! Following a year off from its traditional presentation, the 36th Annual Kwik Star Festival of Trees, will be held at the River Center, November 20-28, including all ticketed special events and the free, televised holiday parade scheduled for Saturday, November 20th in downtown Davenport.
Showcasing over 150 designer displays, fun-filled attractions, live performances, 5 special events and the largest helium balloon parade in the Midwest, Festival of Trees is the Quad Cities premier holiday event and fundraiser for Quad City Arts. All proceeds help support arts education and programs that enrich the quality of life in the Quad Cities region through the arts.
“Last year, many families were apart and didn’t have the chance to celebrate the traditions that make the holiday season so special, so our goal for this year is to bring back the event bigger and better than ever before,” said Festival of Trees Administrator, Kaleigh Trammell.
The event promises to showcase all the familiar attractions and events that many have come to know and love with some new twists! Be on the look-out for designer selfie stations throughout the event and a NEW Mad-Hatter style Sunday brunch! Other special events include the Premiere Party, Teddy Bear Tea, SugarPlum Ball and Celebrity Lunch. Special event tickets will go on sale October 8th.
With a theme this year of “Oh What Fun!”, the steering committee is excited to bring everyone back for the fun and excitement of the in-person Festival experience. To build on the excitement for the coming year, Quad City Arts is running a Christmas in July promotion, where anyone who signs up to be a designer before August 1 will be entered to win a $100 Visa Gift Card!
For more information or to register as a designer visit: www.qcfestivaloftrees.com/design
If you are interested in supporting the event through sponsorship, please contact Karie Gilson at 309.793.1213 x104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Superman is hardly the only “Man of Steel.” That moniker could apply to Steven Maeck of Decorah, Iowa, a sculptor who works in welded and assembled steel.
The 64-year-old Vermont native is among 10 Midwest artists chosen this year to have their sculptures leased and placed throughout the Quad-Cities last month, in Quad City Arts’ public sculpture program. The pieces will be on display through June 5, 2022.
Maeck’s work, “Muso’s Thought,” is near the Channel Cat dock on the Mississippi River in downtown Moline near the Radisson hotel. Since 2002, he has designed and fabricated sculptural work either fully or partially composed of iron and steel.
“The focus of my recent work has been almost exclusively in the utilization of industrial detritus which I alter and/or recombine in such a manner as to create work that is not only resonant and original, but manifests the aura of having been created from base raw material,” he says, noting he has applied to Moline before to be part of the public art effort, but this is his first piece accepted.
“Public art is one of the true behaviors or actions of a civilized society,” Maeck says. “The increasing emphasis and popularity of public art nationwide is a very good sign in the face of all the horrendous stuff that has been occurring recently.
“From my brief experience with this program, I can say that Quad City Arts is staffed by dedicated, competent, professional and friendly people,” he says. “That fact, and the fabulous site that ‘Muso's Thought’ is currently occupying by the river, are the best things I am enjoying about this program.”
The quirky title represents “whatever occurs in the consciousness of the person who encounters the work,” the artist notes. This is just the second year the city of Moline has participated in the longstanding program, and each city has its own selection committee that picks the art.
Moline added two more sculptures this year, for four total; Bettendorf added seven and the Geneseo Public Library leased a sculpture for the first time. Rock Island elected to re-lease four of the sculptures from last year’s group, and to buy the sculpture “Reaching to the Moon” by Tim Frye for its permanent collection.
The other Moline sculptures placed in June are:
Geoff Manis, manager for the Moline Centre Main Street program, says his group (working with Renew Moline) had nearly 60 sculptures to pick from, facilitated by Quad City Arts.
“We had two more than last year; Bass Street has a sculpture pad that’s never been used,” he says. “And Mercado is such a wonderful community event. My role at Moline Centre is to do anything to help complement what they have going on -- to their vibrancy. They have a really high traffic count, and it’s very much a front door to Moline, heading from the west into downtown Moline.”
Quad City Arts has led the leasing and installation of public sculpture in the Quad-Cities since 2002. The City of Rock Island has participated in the program yearly since 2007 and Bettendorf since 2008.
Six sculptures have become part of Rock Island’s permanent collection, while Bettendorf has added seven. Davenport purchased nine sculptures while involved with the program. Sculptures are chosen by appointed committees and leased for one year. All sculptures are for sale and can be purchased by individuals, businesses, or a city for permanent installation after June of the following year.
“Each city has its own selection committee and that's because they're familiar with their city, they're familiar with the locations,” says Dawn Wohlford-Metallo, Quad City Arts visual arts director. “Certain spots need something big and bright and other spots need something smaller, and they're thinking about each location as far as what is going to show up best and be the best for that spot.”
One of the former sculptures in Bettendorf (from Ascentra Credit Union, 2019 Grant St.) – “Just Visiting” by Don Horstman, Easton, Mo. -- was selected by the Geneseo library this year.
“That was sort of unexpected. They just saw the program and they were like, well, we want one,” Wohlford-Metallo says. “They didn't even know that they could pick from all these new sculptures. So they just thought, well, these are leaving -- we want this one. We're always trying to expand to other cities.”
“There are programs similar to ours all over the Midwest and what artists do is to enter their available sculptures in multiple competitions,” Wohlford-Metallo says. “And then the ones that are about to be freed up from wherever they were last year are available to move somewhere else.
“So, some of the ones that were in our program in 2020 are going to go somewhere else, and some of them will go home with the artist,” she says. “Sometimes they repaint them or they freshen them up, and then they wait to be selected by another program or purchased. Many public sculptors have mini sculpture parks on their property.”
Bettendorf has been pretty aggressive in purchasing pieces. “Purchasing is part of the goal, I think, so they can have some permanent sculptures,” Wohlford-Metallo says. This year’s new ones in Bettendorf are:
Last November, Ascentra lost their beloved president and CEO, to pancreatic cancer at 52. The credit union looked to replace its sculpture and found a bit of divine intervention.
“As I looked through the sculptures, one stood out,” Naeve says of “Flame of Remembrance.” The artist’s statement on designing the piece said: “Traditionally, we have annual remembrances for those long passed. However, in 2020 we were thrust into a reality where we have many to remember for their sacrifices NOW, not later. So please think of them as you look at this Flame of Remembrance.”
“Ascentra selected this sculpture for our plaza because it seemed fitting,” Naeve says. “Not only did we lose our dear friend and mentor, but it was a year of loss for many as our nation endured a pandemic and a social awakening. The sculpture is there for each employee, member and community member to see and reflect upon those who have made a difference in their life and those they’ve lost. May their flames forever burn inside each of us.”
She encourages other organizations to participate in the public sculpture program “as it brings art and vitality to the community. The Quad City Arts makes it so easy to be a part of this program,” Naeve adds.
Wohlford-Metallo says the most exciting part of the process is “watching a Hampton Crane operator use their boom to lift a sculpture from an artist’s vehicle, hoist it high in the air and skillfully bring it down gently onto a concrete pad, as directed by the artist who created it.”
The artist will then drill holes into the concrete and secure the sculpture. Bettendorf-based Hampton Cranes generously donates their services each year to Quad City Arts.
Since the Covid pandemic inspired many people to seek stress relief and relaxation outdoors, the area’s public art may have been appreciated differently and more widely over the past 16 months.
“We had people contact us and say that, and ask about maps, which we are going to be putting on our website,” Wohlford-Metallo says. “So yes, we did have a lot of feedback from the public that they wanted to get out and go see them.”
All sculptures currently on exhibit, along with permanent sculptures, will be able to be viewed at www.quadcityarts.com/public-sculpture.html, as well as the websites of the cities that sponsor them.
Quad City Arts is nearing completion of another round of exciting new projects in the annual Metro Arts youth apprenticeship program.
Since the summer of 2000, Metro Arts has provided area youth 15-21 years old with paid summer apprenticeships in various arts disciplines. The program provides opportunities for youth and enhances the community through the arts.
For five weeks, area youth work together in groups to complete art projects under the supervision and mentorship of professional artists. Participants learn the artistic techniques and applications of their particular genre, while developing personally and professionally.
Throughout 2020, Quad City Arts was constantly evaluating our mission and how we were serving our community. Accessibility became a focal point due to the pandemic, forcing arts organizations to reevaluate how we were delivering programs.
“In recent years, Metro Arts has had an increase in requests for murals, which is great, but the mural program can be inaccessible to many students,” says Quad City Arts executive director Kevin Maynard. “Some students do not have access to arts classes in their schools and not all of them can afford private lessons.
“In 2021, we wanted to focus on programs that were designed from the ground up to be more accessible programs,” he says. With that in mind, we created the following programs:
Poetry (Lead Artist Aubrey Barnes). Apprentices are learning how to write and present poetry, as well as its connection to hip-hop and pop culture. The final project will be multiple “pop-up poetry” events (basically an open-mic for the apprentices).
Film (Lead Artist Jonathon Burnett), with Senior Apprentice Cooper Harrison. Apprentices are learning the concepts of writing a script, casting, filming, and editing. The final project will be a short film.
Graphic Design (Lead Artist Annie Oldenburg), with Senior Apprentice Casey Rassmussen in partnership with Black Hawk College. Apprentices are learning the basic concepts of the Adobe Creative Cloud. The final project is a storefront vinyl project in Downtown Rock Island where apprentices are creating designs to go on windows of vacant storefronts. This will help draw attention to these great spaces. Black Hawk College provided the use of their facilities as well as the use of their equipment highlighting their support for the arts, education, and the community.
Public Mural (Lead Artist Sarah Robb), with Senior Apprentice Liam Haskill, sponsored by Moline Centre. This mural is located along the bike path in Moline, under the Arsenal bridge, between the Channel Cat and Kone Centre. This area was in need of a new mural and Moline Centre/Geoff Manis asked Quad City Arts to make that happen.
This year may not be the most apprentices hired in a single year, but it is a big year for Metro Arts! Creating more programs that are accessible from day one is an important step to creating more young creatives in our community. We are excited to see the final projects!
Lead artists are also learning and growing by helping local students.
“Metro Arts is a very important program for youth in the community,” says Oldenburg, an art and design instructor at Black Hawk College, in her first year with the program. “What a great opportunity to work with the younger generation and inspire art culture!”
Working with eight graphic-design apprentices in Adobe Illustrator, her project is to create large-format posters that will be printed and hung in windows of empty commercial spaces in downtown Rock Island. These posters are the apprentice's visions of what these spaces could be filled with.
“We brainstormed important concepts – like accessibility, diversity, etc. -- and places that would help build and support members of our community,” Oldenburg says. “Some examples of the spaces being created are a smoothie bar, bookstore, community center, and art studio. These are both literal and abstract representations.”
“I have a talented bunch of apprentices, each with their own unique style that is really showing through,” she says.
Jonathan Burnett, a Rock Island-based independent filmmaker and executive director of Azubuike African American Council for the Arts, also is in his first year leading Metro Arts.
Their finished product will be a five-to-eight-minute short film -- and each summer, he also leads the Urban Exposure Summer Independent Film Program, which has been supported by Quad City Arts.
“I felt that working with Quad City Arts to help develop their own was a natural collaboration,” Burnett said.
“Anytime I work with young filmmakers, I’m always excited about their growth. They come in knowing almost nothing but have great creative potential and are very aware of the world around them. But when they learn at least the basics of filmmaking, that gives them a new voice to express themselves through visual storytelling.” View the finished short film below titled "Ego".
Aubrey Barnes – a writer, poet, performer and founder of Roaring Rhetoric, a Q-C based open mic showcase – also is doing Metro Arts for the first time. He’s a teaching artist, and has been teaching poetry/spoken word for the last six years nationally and internationally.
“Quad City Arts decided to do this as a new program for the Metro Arts, and I thought it'd be a good program to do,” Barnes says, noting he’s most excited about giving “the students a platform to share their voice, and giving the community an opportunity to experience it.”
Sarah Robb of Davenport is leading a Metro Arts mural group for her 15th summer – this year with 10 apprentices total. They are painting a new mural under the Arsenal Bridge along the bike path in Moline. Its title is “Retro Electric,” which is a nod to the history of the Arsenal infused with ‘80s shapes and colors, she says.
“I am most excited about the location this year!” Robb says. “Lots of people frequent the bike path and we are surrounded by the beauty of the river.”
Maynard also is excited about a recently completed mural project she led as a unique spring Metro Arts.
Apprentices were asked to design and paint a mural on the 2nd and 3rd floor just off of the elevators of the new TBK Bank building in downtown Bettendorf, at 1521 Grant St.
“Quad City Arts is thrilled to have the arts prominently represented at the new TBK Bank building and thankful to have a community partner like TBK Bank that understands the value of the arts and providing opportunities to our local youth,” Maynard says.
There were 14 local apprentices, chosen in the same way as the annual summer Metro Arts program. Robb was the lead artist and supervisor of the high-school students who created the TBK Bank murals in May, finishing June 2. The new bank (and TBK Midwest division headquarters) opened June 21.
View the Metro Arts Showcase for 2021 to learn more about the instructors and lead apprentices! To learn more about the Metro Arts program, visit www.quadcityarts.com/metro-arts.html.