The legacy of an influential early Quad City Arts leader lives on in countless local artists, art supporters, and a huge sculpture in one of the area’s most beautiful parks.
Lloyd Schoeneman began working for Quad City Arts in 1978 as a resident artist, teaching art to many groups including children, the elderly, the disabled and the incarcerated.
He worked for Quad City Arts for 22 years, including as executive director of the Quad City Arts Council when the organization, along with others, merged and become Quad City Arts in 1988. He pioneered several of the council’s early visual art outreach programs, working in the local prison and other sites to educate people and lead them in art making.
“Lloyd was an incredibly creative individual,” according to the organization. “You never knew what to expect from him. His love for art was matched only by his passion for baseball and devotion to his family and community. He even considered a run for city council at one point.
“Lloyd introduced the concept of community-built art to the Quad Cities, organizing design charrettes which resulted in the Navigation Steps at Leach Park, the Nature Spiral at Illiniwek Park and the Lindsay Park Architectural Sculpture Park.”
He served as the Director for Public Visual Arts & Community Liaison at Quad City Arts, and was instrumental in founding several arts organizations, including the Open Cities Film Society, Kaleidoscope (an art program for children at Augustana College), A Very Special Arts Festival and the Quad City Presenters Group.
At Quad City Arts, Schoeneman had a key role in creating the Metro Arts summer youth employment program and the Arts Dollars/Access regranting program, funding individuals and groups to create community arts projects. He was the administrator for the Face the River sculpture project.
Schoeneman died Aug. 17, 2001 from cancer, at age 49.
He and Megan Quinn, Augustana art professor, who specializes in ceramics, were married 13 years. She has been a longtime member of Quad City Arts’ visual arts committee. She also led a Metro Arts group of students in creating a mosaic for the sculpture in Schoeneman’s honor, first installed in Rock Island’s Schwiebert Riverfront Park in 2010.
“It's fabulous," Quinn said at the 2016 ribbon-cutting for the 20-foot tall sculpture, “Lloyd’s Trek,” made of concrete, copper and steel, with one leg covered with mosaic tiles. It’s a contemporary representation of a person walking and weighs roughly 10,000 pounds.
Design for the memorial piece evolved over five years of meetings with community members, friends and Schoeneman's family, including Quinn.
Stuart Morris, the memorial's sculptor, was an art professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and was chosen by Schoeneman and Quinn, before his death. The design — which incorporates greenish waves in the middle section, evoking the river — was approved by Schoeneman's family, a committee overseeing the memorial, and the Rock Island Arts Advisory Committee.
It originally was installed in June 2010 at the western edge of Schwiebert Park, off 17th Street and the Mississippi River. The $12-million park opened that July 3. The first phase of the mosaic work was completed in summer of 2014 by a group of high school and college students in the Quad City Metro Arts program, led by Quinn and senior apprentice Molly Haut.
Most of the mosaic pieces are made from clay, and hand-painted, some more textured than others, Quinn said. The last phase was done in 2016, supported by Quad City Arts Dollars funds, provided by Hubbell-Waterman Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and John Deere. Augustana also funded the last part of the project through a Faculty-Student Partnership Grant.
"Most people say the mosaic kind of humanizes the sculpture, and adds more personal response to the site, the river site, the person," Quinn said, noting her late husband was a great nature lover.
"The more people that are involved, actually have a hand in making it, designing it, putting it up there, the more it belongs to the community," Quinn said of the sculpture. "It's been really gratifying to me to get so much feedback from people."
The complex, detailed piece (which features Cor-Ten steel) also looks like a walking robot, which would please Schoeneman, she said, since he was a sci-fi fan.
Quad City Arts has distributed many awards in his name, given since 2005, to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations whose work reflects "passion for the arts and significant community impact through the arts.” Awards are given in the following categories: individual artists in literary, visual and performing arts; young emerging artists; arts educators and arts supporters (individual and business).
In the first year, winners were artists Jessi Black, Melissa McBain and Michelle Garrison, and arts supporters Karen Getz and Modern Woodmen of America. In 2019, winners were Sarah Robb (arts educator), Faith Mutum (artist), Skeleton Key (business supporter), and John Taylor (individual supporter).
In 2008, Quinn (who has exhibited her own work often with Quad City Arts) earned the Lloyd Schoeneman Outstanding Art Educator award.
“Quad City Arts does wonderful work engaging and motivating artists and their families through their programming across many art forms and directed towards all ages,” she said recently. “They also draw in art lovers to their galleries and programming. I feel they create a community for us to learn about each other as we appreciate the arts.”
“As a visual artist, I love that QC Arts has changing work of regional artists in two professionally installed galleries,” said Quinn, who has a master of fine arts from Notre Dame. “I also love what Metro Arts does to empower young artists. Thirdly, the visiting artist series has brought in phenomenal talents not just to perform but to engage our community.
“I am proud of the quality of artists work we bring to the galleries and also of the Metro Arts piece my group made.”
She also has a soft spot in her heart for Quad City Arts’ Visiting Artist Series.
“Because of their week to two-week residencies, we got to know and love many of the artists,” Quinn said. “Once we had to find a new hotel for Richard Stoltzman, a clarinetist, because the radiator in his room at House on the Hill at Augie was driving him crazy, hissing a B flat.
“We also did a lot of distracting homesick artists like the amazing accordionist Guy Klucevsek, in the early days of the organization, when residencies could be several weeks.
“The organization started across the street from where it is now and a pop machine out front was an actual part of their fundraising,” she said. “It picked up donors and major grants through the years and moved to two floors of its current building. It has recently adapted to a smaller footprint, but has managed to keep programming vibrant.”
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