As we continue to explore new ways of bringing the arts to our community, we also want to take a step back and celebrate an important milestone in our organization’s rich history.
This fall, Quad City Arts is celebrating its 50th anniversary, dedicated to enriching the quality of life in the Quad-City region through the arts.
Looking back at the impact, the Quad-Cities would not be the Quad-Cities without Quad City Arts.
Founded in August 1970 as Quad City Arts Council, we are a nonprofit arts organization serving a six-county area in eastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois.
We are passionate about the growth and vitality of the Q-C region through the arts and for the past 50 years, have been committed to making quality arts education accessible to everyone through arts opportunities, programming, and community events.
Among hallmarks of Quad City Arts is the Visiting Artist Series, which started in 1974 – to present multi-disciplinary performing arts residencies in schools and community sites -- and has brought us more than 600 artists, 424 residencies, 10,000 school visits, 400 concerts, and over 2.6 million people reached. In 2019 alone, the series impacted 24,649 K-12 students.
The Festival of Trees launched in 1986, and has served as the primary fundraiser for Quad City Arts since its inception, bringing together 3,000 volunteers each year to put on 11 days of events (including a 98-member steering committee). The Visiting Artist Series, Festival of Trees and Quad City Arts Council officially merged into one entity in 1988.
Acting on an urban renewal opportunity in 1990, Quad City Arts began the renovation of a former department store for its offices and gallery space that became the cornerstone project in the revitalization of Rock Island’s downtown, The Arts & Entertainment District.
The Quad City Arts Center Gallery has been central to the organization for 27 years offering more than 2,500 square feet of space showcasing some of the most unique artwork in the area.
This popular space is frequently used for informal musical and literary performances and for special community group meetings.
Quad City Arts has expanded its programs over the years, starting with the annual High School Art Invitational in 1977; the Arts Dollars grant program in 1979; the Metro Arts Youth Apprenticeship program and Art at the Airport in 2000; and the Public Sculpture Program in 2008.
Chalk Art Fest started in 2017, and this year, we started taking over some MidCoast Fine Arts programming (since that nonprofit disbanded in the spring), including Riverssance Festival of Fine Art and the High School Pastel Competition. While those did not occur this year, we do plan to continue them in 2021.
In 2019, through all its public programs (including visiting artists, concerts, exhibits, and Festival of Trees), Quad City Arts attracted a total of over 304,000 people, displayed the work of 266 artists, and re-granted over $90,000 to individual artists and organizations in support of community arts projects.
“In the cultural structure of the Quad-Cities, the institutions like the Putnam, Figge and Symphony are the bricks; however, Quad City Arts is the mortar,” recent board president and longtime volunteer Chris Rayburn said. “Quad City Arts is the glue that connects the arts with the community. It is less visible than the ‘bricks,’ but it is everywhere, and it is every bit as essential.”
Former President/CEO of W.G. Block (a concrete, sand and gravel company), and a practicing artist himself, Rayburn has been part of the nonprofit for nearly 30 years and is proud of the fact he’s served two terms as board president 20 years apart.
“I am equally proud of my work curating and installing the exhibition space at the airport for so many years. It is truly a showcase for both local and regional art and artists,” he said. “Honestly, I am proud of every minute I have spent with Quad City Arts.”
Rayburn is especially impressed with executive director Kevin Maynard (who began in December 2018), who he said “is leading a fantastic staff of extremely dedicated and hard-working professionals. The organization has a fantastic board of directors, is on strong financial footing and is really leaning into its future,” Rayburn said.
“There are many exciting opportunities for growing Quad City Arts’ current programs and also expanding in new directions,” he said. “The needs in the community are great, but what is exciting to me is that Quad City Arts has strong support to help meet these needs and beyond.”
“What I love most about Quad City Arts is the passion of our staff and volunteers to present art programming in many different forms to as many people as we can possibly reach,” said Dawn Wohlford-Metallo, visual arts director since 2001, who oversees the main gallery at 1715 2nd Ave., Rock Island, and gallery at Moline’s Quad City International Airport.
“We invest time to seek out individuals who are not aware of our programs and offer access to opportunities for them -- by inviting regional artists to enter work for exhibition or making sure an underprivileged child has transportation and a free ticket to a performance,” she said. “What I like most about my job is the variety. No day is just like another.”
Maynard, 32, came to Rock Island after working five years as executive director of Galesburg’s Orpheum Theatre. He attended Black Hawk College, graduated from Western Illinois University in 2011, and earned his MBA at Western in 2013.
“I knew Quad City Arts and its reputation because we were booking shows in Galesburg as well, and knew talking to agents they were working with Quad City Arts. And obviously, Festival of Trees, I knew about growing up because I grew up in Geneseo,” Maynard said.
Even though he was raised in the Q-C, he didn’t realize the far-reaching impact of the organization before working for it.
“It’s the breadth of programming, the amount in the arts that Quad City Arts is serving,” Maynard said. “It’s not just the Visiting Artist Series; it’s not just the gallery spaces. It’s the public sculpture program. It’s Metro Arts, Chalk Art Festival, and the list goes on and on.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, which has upended society and devastated arts venues nationwide, he and Quad City Arts have had to be nimble and creative to adapt and continue its mission.
The High School Art Show, Metro Arts, and Chalk Art Fest have all continued under varied formats, and Maynard has introduced a new video series to highlight what we do – “7 With Kevin Live” (which debuts every other Thursday).
“We’re constantly moving forward,” he said. “Obviously, 2020 has thrown a wrench in the mix, but we’re going to find a way to pivot and deliver on that mission, and still provide opportunities for artists in our region and really be able to provide art education opportunities through Metro Arts as well as the Visiting Artist Series. It may not look like past years, but it’s still just as important, if not more important, to deliver on that programming.”
“Especially, with the Arts Dollars program alone, we track how many grants we’ve given out since the beginning, and what those dollar amounts are, it’s amazing,” he said. “It’s a way for our entity to have an impact on smaller arts organizations that may not have a very large budget -- or may not have a grant writer. Some of these national and state grants take a lot of time and effort to submit, so if they’re unable to do that or feel they don’t qualify for that, we’re here for an option so they can still get funding.
“They can still have an impact in the Quad-Cities through the arts,” Maynard said. Since 1990, Arts Dollars has given out over $1.33 million in 802 grants to 447 unique recipients.
In 2019, it distributed over $90,000 to 21 projects, each year offering funding for individual artists and nonprofits of all sizes to support arts-centered projects in the Q-C and surrounding communities. Our goal is to equip individuals and organizations to engage their community, see a long-lasting benefit from the completed projects and pay artists for their work in the process.
Quad City Arts gets funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the states of Illinois and Iowa, and other private granting agencies. “We intend to continue working with those agencies, so that we can continue to provide those grants,” he said.
Arts Dollars is funded mainly through the Hubbell-Waterman Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council. By not being able to do a traditional Festival of Trees this year will certainly negatively affect Quad City Arts revenue.
“There definitely will be an impact by not hosting an in-person Festival of Trees this year, but we’re confident that the community is going to work with us,” Maynard said. “The Quad-Cities is an incredibly supportive and giving community. We think we’re going to be able to bring in some dollars to bridge that gap. We’re also making changes so we can still continue to offer all our programming, even with a smaller budget in mind.”
The five-week Metro Arts summer apprenticeship program often creates public murals by students ages 15-21, and this year included improv comedy. The program has served 1,140 students since it started (with 96 varied projects), and stipends for apprentices are $500 each; $750 for the senior apprentice, and $2,000 for the professional lead artists.
In lieu of an in-person Festival of Trees this year, we are partnering with KWQC to present a fun-filled one-hour Holiday Special to air on Saturday, Nov. 21st during the traditional parade hour, asking the community to partner for a Day of Giving on the same day.
The TV special event will consist of coverage from past parades, Center Stage acts, messages from staff, volunteers, and community members as well as a message of hope from Santa himself. The goal is to set up matching donors and sponsors who will help make donations go farther.
“The health and wellness of our community is, above all else, our first priority and we truly believe that the spirit of Festival of Trees will be preserved this year through community connection and a commitment to supporting the arts,” Maynard said.
Just like we’ve done for 50 years.
Quad City Arts is partnering with several other local institutions to celebrate women’s empowerment and work by female artists.
This month marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women's constitutional right to vote. This historic centennial offers an unparalleled opportunity to commemorate a milestone of democracy and to celebrate the achievements of women -- especially in the arts.
Quad City Arts’ September and October exhibition at Quad City International Airport, Moline, titled “A Portrait of Remarkable Women,” will feature portraits painted by Heidi Hernandez of Davenport, and Cecile Houel of Fort Madison, Iowa, as well as sculptures by 11 women artists living within a 250-mile radius.
They are Kristin Garnant, Hilde DeBruyne, Lisa Mahar, Liz Wakita, Judy Bales, Joan Webster-Vore, Stephanie J. Baugh, Elizabeth Rhoads Read, Lori Roderick, Karen Brinson and Justine Zimmer.
“A Portrait of Remarkable Women” offers a glimpse of both the extraordinary women artists in our community as well as the women commemorated by Hernandez and Houel.
“One hundred years ago, female artists struggled to be taken seriously in the profession, which meant being included in important exhibitions alongside men and selling their work at comparable prices,” said Dawn Wohlford-Metallo, visual arts director for Quad City Arts.
“Now female artists can be self-supporting, have work purchased for museum collections, can own an art gallery, be curators, esteemed educators, critics, writers, and speakers,” she said. “We now have numerous outstanding female artists here in our region to celebrate and share with the public. These artists can all stand on their own merit and many have had solo exhibitions, previously, but this anniversary provides us an opportunity to highlight talented women living here, now.”
Convinced that art can contribute to world peace, internationally recognized artist Cecile Houel started the “Nobel Peace Prize Collection: Peace Starts Within” in 2014, to celebrate all of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates of the prestigious Nobel Foundation since 1901.
Dividing her time between Iowa and France, she paints very personalized, large portraits of the famous laureates to honor their will and dedication to make a better world with strength, courage, and creativity. Each figure, internationally acclaimed, or subject to controversy, brought their light and contributed to humanity’s evolution. As part of this special exhibit commemorating women, Houel will exhibit six female Nobel Peace Prize Winners at the airport gallery.
Another 10 paintings from “Nobel Peace Prize Collection: Peace Starts Within” will be on view at Bettendorf’s Beréskin Gallery from Aug. 28 to Oct. 28, with one from Hernandez. The display, sponsored by WVIK, Quad-Cities NPR, also will feature preliminary drawings and studies.
The public (with mandatory masks) is invited to the opening reception and opportunity to meet the artists on Sept. 4 from 5:30-7:30 p,m. The focus at Beréskin Gallery is not only the gender of the artists, but on the amazing accomplishments of people in the struggle for peace.
Houel said she plans to do portraits of all 107 Nobel Peace Laureates. Working from her studio in Fort Madison – a two-minute walk from the Mississippi River -- she typically completes 10 of the intensely personal 4-foot by 4-foot portraits each year. Included in the display at the Bereskin gallery will be portraits of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Elie Wiesel and Barack Obama, among others.
Born to a Catholic father and a Muslim mother, Houel said she witnessed discrimination while growing up in the Middle East.
“I have a deep compassion for diversity,” she said, noting her goal is to create peace events where she can display all of her works.
Pat Bereskin, owner of Beréskin Art Gallery & Academy, sees the Houel exhibition as a perfect opportunity for families involved in online schooling to learn about these important figures in history. A downloadable “Passport for Peace” on the gallery website (bereskinartgallery.com) lists where each piece is displayed in the Quad-Cities and gives a biography of each Laureate.
“Together we will have a body of work that tells the history and importance of working for peace through the lives and brushstrokes of Cecile Houel,” she said.
Hernandez, who will be exhibited at the airport, chose to paint local and national female artists she admires.
“The collection of portraits I painted capture an exterior, a façade judged unfairly based on stereotypes and bias,” she said. “Hidden truths gleaned during interviews with the artists, are presented behind the portraits, peeking out underneath the edge of the painting, inviting the viewer to take a closer look.”
Through the process of painting and dialoguing with her subjects, Hernandez explored the term feminism and what it means to contemporary artists.
Additional paintings from the Nobel collection, along with preliminary drawings and studies, will be exhibited at the German American Heritage Center and Museum, and the River Center Adler Theatre display case (also from Aug. 28-Oct. 28). The Adler case also will feature eight portrait paintings from Houel’s student, Rose Moore (who has taught at Bereskin Gallery).
“They’re absolutely beautiful,” Pat Bereskin said. Both she and Quad City Arts emphasize the importance and value of seeing all the women’s artwork in person, as opposed to online.
The art is complemented by related long-term exhibits at Davenport’s Figge Art Museum and Putnam Museum & Science Center.
“Seen and Heard: The Art of Empowerment” at the Figge Art Museum (on the second floor through May 2021) features women artists who asserted their artistic empowerment despite social and cultural barriers. In addition to empowering themselves, several of the artists on view give voice and visibility to the marginalized through their work.
This exhibition, drawn from the Figge’s collection, features 13 women artists, including Marisol Escobar, Grace Hartigan, Louise Nevelson, Lee Krasner, and Alison Saar.
A number of the artists also created work concerning women’s experiences, establishing that it was a subject deserving visibility and recognition. Other artists created work that brought attention to societal injustices and traditionally marginalized groups, such as Carrie Mae Weems, who probes the racial, social, and cultural inequities in art history through her work.
The artists featured here have contributed to a more inclusive environment in the art world and beyond.
“We are proud to present these dynamic artworks from the museum collection, including several recent acquisitions,” Figge assistant curator Vanessa Sage said. “While issues of inequality and representation remain prevalent in the art world, the Figge is dedicated to better representing the world in which we live and the artists who are an essential part of it.”
The Putnam Museum has extended its exhibit on the women’s suffrage movement – “Liberated Voices / Changed Lives” – until Nov. 4 (the day after the presidential election).
The Putnam exhibit – whose major sponsor is Royal Neighbors of America — showcases how changing technology provided more time for women to work on the suffrage movement, which culminated in the signing of the 19th Amendment Aug. 26, 1920.
The Putnam features an original touch-screen exhibit on Quad-Cities men and women who worked for and against suffrage between 1900 and 1920.
Together, these six Q-C venues provide visual art and historic displays that reflect the importance, power and struggle of female artists, as well as all people who have worked tirelessly for the equality of women, world peace, and the advancement of humankind.
Venues and exhibits:
To learn about the Iowa artists, visit cecilehouel.com and heidihernandezart.com.
Austin Robertson is innately drawn to chalk pastel art.
The 23-year-old Davenport artist, who earned an associate’s degree in fine arts from Scott Community College, was the first-place winner in the first Quad City Arts Chalk Art Fest in 2017, in downtown Davenport, and has taken part every year since.
“Just watching the creations come alive – it’s fun to see them go from concept to finished piece,” Robertson, a Davenport North alumnus, says of his love for art. “It’s fun to see its progress.”
In 2015, he won the best of show in Quad City Arts’ High School Art Show, a self-portrait in blue Bic pen. It was probably 20 hours of work and earned him a $900 scholarship. Chalk pastel is his favorite medium – which all Q-C residents are encouraged to participate in this month, during the fourth-annual virtual art competition.
“It’s the one I think I’ve learned to utilize the most control, and it’s the one I’m most able to play with the colors,” Robertson says of chalk. For that first two-day fest, he won 1st Place and People’s Choice for a six-foot-by-eight-foot portrait of a musician, with color pouring down his face, based off a lyric from a song, “Black and White.”
Last year, when the festival was held in downtown Bettendorf as part of the “Be Downtown” event, he won People’s Choice again for an 8-foot-by-10-foot portrait of a lion in half color and half black and white. It was based on a colored-pencil drawing he was commissioned to do from a fellow Davenport North grad who also studied with his art teacher.
Robertson was partly inspired to greatness by the public nature of the chalk art event, which will be done in private this month.
“I think just being kind of being in a public space, being able to display my art, having crowds of people watching,” he says. “There’s definitely a lot of pressure; I’ll get into my own head space to do it. I can zone it out and focus. There are things you don’t want to make mistakes. I want to show my ability, to individuals who never knew or seen my stuff.”
Last year, the event was held in the parking lot of Ascentra Credit Union’s headquarters.
“People were more in close quarters. I liked being in the parking lot, being closed off, it felt better,” Robertson, who works at Davenport’s Michaels art store, says.
This month, he’s going to create a chalk art piece on a friend’s driveway, and having more time to complete it will be good. “Especially with it being virtual and being at home, it’s a little less pressure that way,” Robertson says. “I took vacation off work, so I can spend a lot of time working on it.”
The Quad City Arts event will take place from Aug. 15 to 28, and chalk artists can create their work safely at home, on their driveway, sidewalk, porch or balcony.
Snap a photo of your masterpiece and send to Quad City Arts (via website or e-mail) by Aug. 28 at 3 p.m., and be eligible for over $1,500 in cash prizes, including a youth category (for ages 12-17) award and people’s choice award. There are no limitations to your work, and it can be in any size or shape and created with any type of chalk. People’s Choice Award will be open for voting on Quad City Arts’ Facebook Page, Saturday, August 29th through Sunday, August 30th at 3pm.
Artists who tag @quadcityarts on Facebook or Instagram or use the
hashtag #chalkartfestqc and #quadcityarts will have the photos and videos of their installations shared throughout the weekend, as well as be entered to win one of several $25 gift cards to downtown Bettendorf retail and restaurant businesses.
“Chalk Art Fest was part of Bettendorf’s Be Downtown event and part of that goal was to highlight the businesses that are operating in downtown Bettendorf,” says Quad City Arts’ executive director, Kevin Maynard. “Since the event was cancelled, we wanted to still highlight those businesses.”
Since they can’t host the in-person event, Quad City Arts is partnering with the Downtown Bettendorf Organization to give away gift cards to these businesses as a way to continue supporting them, Quad City Arts marketing director Karie Gilson says.
Ten gift cards will be available to businesses including Sports Fans, QC Fuel, Riverside Grill, Stacks Pancake House, and Keller’s American Grill/Isle Casino.
There were over 100 artists who participated in last year’s chalk art fest. Previously held on 2nd Street downtown Davenport, last year’s fest was June 8-9 at Ascentra Credit Union’s headquarters, on State Street between 20th and 21st streets.
Be Downtown, which had planned to be part of the regional Alternating Currents festival (Aug. 27-30), was also canceled recently due to Covid-19 concerns.
Last year’s Chalk Art Fest winners were:
The prizes for the festival are:
Complimentary 48-count boxes of pastel chalk (courtesy of Blick Art Materials) will be available at Quad City Arts’ Rock Island Gallery (1715 2nd Ave.) during normal business hours until supplies run out. Entrance is via arts alley on the side of the building and masks are required.
The fest is sponsored by the city of Bettendorf, Morency Family Foundation, and Blick Art Materials. For more information, visit quadcityarts.com/chalk-art-fest.
Robertson said his focus is on realistic portraits, but he has always enjoyed stepping out of his comfort zone when it comes to style, size, and mediums. One of his biggest challenges was illustrating a children's book called “Pete's Grand Plan,” an anti-bullying book from the Pete the Purple Bull program. You can find a gallery of his works at austinrobertsonarts.weebly.com.
Why should others join the chalk art contest?
“It’s fun,” Robertson says. “Yes, it is a competition, you can win prizes, but even to just have a fun time. It’s fun to play with chalk pastels in general. It’s about having fun, and you get to be outside, which is nice.”
After thoughtful and careful consideration, Quad City Arts -- along with the Riverssance planning committee -- has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Riverssance Festival of Fine Art (which was to take place Sept. 19-20 in Lindsay Park, Village of East Davenport).
Riverssance – which was formerly organized under Midcoast Fine Arts, which disbanded this spring -- will return Sept. 18 and 19, 2021, to support the programming at Quad City Arts.
“We gave a lot of consideration to the event and just about any way we could do it,” said Quad City Arts executive director Kevin Maynard. “Ultimately, it really came down to, there were a lower number of artists participating this year, due to Covid. There were ones that were backing out; we had difficulty finding musicians and food vendors.
“At the end of the day, all that combined made it difficult to be financially feasible, and would make it a shell of the event,” he said.
Riverssance, which was in its 33rd year, is a well-known art festival throughout the Midwest, typically featuring 90 exhibiting artists, a children’s art activity tent, wine tasting, gourmet food and live regional music. Awards are given to exhibiting artists in various categories and the prestigious Harley Award is given to an individual who positively affected the arts and artists in the Quad-Cities during his or her lifetime.
This year’s event was also organized by the same 10-member committee, assisted by a few staff from Quad City Arts, Maynard said.
Many of the participating artists sell their work online and the public is encouraged to view and consider purchasing their art on the following websites:
The Riverssance festival will be back at Lindsay Park Sept. 18 and 19, 2021. In the meantime, support local artists and join us again in 2021!
Want to win $100? Enter Quad City Arts’ Summer Selfie Challenge!
Take a selfie with one of our recently installed sculptures and enter to win a $100 VISA gift card. Just make sure to tag #quadcityarts and #visitquadcities. The more sculptures you tag the better chances you have to win! Read our blog for all the details, driving directions and start jumping around the Quad Cities! Contest begins July 30, and submissions will be accepted until midnight on August 10th.
HOW TO ENTER:
Take pictures of yourself with as many of our sculptures as you can and post with #quadcityarts and #visitquadcities, the person with the largest number of selfies with sculptures from our Public Sculpture Program WINS! The contest begins TODAY, July 30 and submissions will be accepted until midnight on August 10th, 2020. Winners will be announced on August 12th and contacted through social media (Please keep an eye on your inbox!).
One grand prize will be awarded. Odds of winning depend on the number of participants.
Grand Prize: the grand prize winner will receive a prepaid $100 Visa gift card. Winning photos will be posted in an online gallery. Non-winning fun and creative art/selfie photos may also be reshared on our public pages.
Participants must be 18 years of age or accompanied by an adult/parent. No purchase necessary. All federal, state and local laws apply. In the event of a tie, a random drawing will be done to select the final winner.
You may have already heard the news: Quad City Arts has made the difficult decision not to host the 35th Annual Kwik Star Festival of Trees in person this year due to uncertainty and concern for the safety of our volunteers, staff, and community as a whole regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The Holiday Parade and all other special events will also not be held this year.
We’re disappointed, and I’m sure you are too. Festival of Trees is near and dear to many of us in the community and it is the place where many memories have been made, family pictures have been taken, and funds have been raised to support Quad City Arts’ mission to provide art for all. Festival of Trees will still continue and we are excited to share with you what we have in store for this year and for years to come!
Since we are unable to gather in person, we are asking you to partner with us to continue the spirit of Festival of Trees through a one-day special event in support of the arts! On November 21, join Festival of Trees and KWQC for a fun-filled, one-hour televised holiday special and Day of Giving. It will be a day of support and celebration that we hope will fill hearts with holiday cheer as we ask the community to join us in support of the arts.
We will still have some old favorites like the Honor Tree, Isabel Bloom, and VIP Baskets this year, and lots of surprises still to come!
Read the full press release below.
After thoughtful and careful consideration, Quad City Arts has made the difficult decision not to host the 35th Annual Kwik Star Festival of Trees in person this year due to uncertainty and concern for the safety of our volunteers, staff, and community as a whole regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The Holiday Parade and all other special events will also not be held this year. This decision was led by Festival of Trees volunteer management team with the full support of the Quad City Arts’ staff and Board of Directors. We recognize that Festival of Trees is a beloved holiday tradition in the Quad Cities, and while this was not an easy decision to make, we believe it is the right one.
In lieu of an in-person event this year, we are partnering with KWQC to present a fun-filled one-hour Holiday Special to air on Saturday, November 21st during the traditional parade hour, and we are asking the community to partner with us for a Day of Giving on the same day. Our goal is to set up matching donors and sponsors who will help make donations go farther. We know VIP Baskets are a crowd favorite at Festival of Trees, so they will be returning this year, but with a new twist! We have some exciting events and challenges planned for that day as well, so stay tuned for details!
Festival of Trees started in 1986 with a small group of volunteers that believed in the impact of the arts. They set out on a mission to support bringing high-quality artists right here to the Quad Cities, inspiring a generation of students and families through access to the arts. That first year, their purpose was twofold: First, be a community celebration of the holiday season. Second, raise funds for the Visiting Artist Series.
Over the years, Festival of Trees has not only continued to be a major supporter of The Visiting Artist Series and Quad City Arts, but it’s also become a staple in the Quad Cities as the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season, bringing together hundreds of sponsors and tens of thousands of supporters to experience the magic of Festival. And it all started with that group of people who believed it was possible. We chose the theme for this year, “Believe”, in January not knowing what the next several months had in store, but we are invested in continuing to believe in the mission of Festival of Trees as a community event and fundraiser for Quad City Arts.
With that in mind, we hope to bring the spirit of Festival of Trees to the community this year through this one-day special event in support of the arts. In addition, Quad City Arts plans to have select designs available for sale in our Rock Island Gallery, along with items from the Tinsel Treasures Gift Shop and Be Original Gallery. Honor Tree ornaments and Isabel Bloom sculptures will still be available for purchase on the Festival website or at the Rock Island Gallery as we know many will still want to commemorate this year in their collection and honor loved ones with a personalized ornament.
The health and wellness of our community is, above all else, our first priority and we truly believe that the spirit of Festival of Trees will be preserved this year through community connection and a commitment to supporting the arts.
Quad City Arts is a local, nonprofit arts agency dedicated to enriching the quality of life in the Quad City region through the arts.
Just as last year was unusual for our Metro Arts Youth Apprenticeship program, this summer also is unique.
Far fewer students – ages 15 to 21 – are participating, in fewer projects, and they are wearing face coverings and are social distancing, as is the current practice. That does not mean that the two outdoor murals and improvisational comedy being created over the past five weeks are any less meaningful, important or impressive.
“Every Metro Arts site has a collection of masks available, if the student either doesn’t have one or has forgotten theirs that day, so we can make sure we’re following the social-distancing guidelines and keeping everybody safe,” Quad City Arts executive director Kevin Maynard said, noting the lead artists also wear masks.
“I don’t think that our social distancing guidelines have hindered the process or progress on any of these projects,” he said. “It has limited the number of apprentices. Most sites typically have 10 apprentices and a lead artist, but with the (Illinois) guidelines in phase 3 being no groups larger than 10, we did have to cut an apprentice from each project.”
Compared to 2019, when there were about 90 apprentices doing projects throughout the Quad-Cities in the spring, summer and fall, this year about 30 area youth are being provided with five-week paid summer apprenticeships.
These apprentices create projects that positively impact our community: a mural in Moline, improv comedy, and a mural in Rock Island. These projects were made possible through support from the City of Rock Island, Friendship Manor, Modern Woodmen of America, The Moline Foundation, and Renew Moline.
Since summer 2000, Metro Arts has provided youth ages 15-21 with paid summer apprenticeships in various arts disciplines. They work together in groups to complete projects that enhance the community through the arts. Participants learn artistic techniques and applications of their genre while developing personally and professionally.
This program allows young adults to develop new career and artistic skills, build self-confidence and creates a sense of accomplishment as they work under the supervision and mentorship of professional artists. Their mentors are accomplished, local artists who are passionate about teaching and encouraging creativity.
“This year, we obviously knew it would be a lot smaller – there were no spring projects with the pandemic going on,” said lead artist Sarah Robb of Davenport, who’s heading both new murals, at 1516 6th Ave., Moline, and on three sides of the Friendship Manor maintenance building, at Rock Island’s 11th Street and 21st Avenue.
In her 14th summer leading Metro Arts, she’s been working with eight young artists daily in Moline in the morning for four hours and nine in Rock Island in the afternoon.
If painting close together, the students are required to wear masks or face shields, and unlike previous years, do not share paint or buckets with water to rinse brushes. Masks are provided in case students forget to bring one, as well as hand sanitizer, water and sunscreen.
The mural in Moline is in the courtyard on 6th Avenue next to La Primavera, on the wall of Bajas Classy Resale, across the street from the mural Robb led in 2018 for the Child Abuse Council (which was supported in part by Quad City Arts’ Arts Dollars, but wasn’t a Metro Arts project).
The new mural (called “It’s a New Day”) is the first Metro Arts project in the city of Moline, supported by Renew Moline and The Moline Foundation. Specifically, The Tom and Karen Getz Memorial Fund was established at The Moline Foundation to support and promote civic pride, youth development and the arts. Tom and Karen served and led innumerable community organizations with energy, commitment, and heart.
“This collaborative mural project exemplifies and honors the legacy of these two truly remarkable community leaders,” said Paul Plagenz, president/CEO, Moline Foundation.
“It has a positive message during this time – hopeful, a lot of color,” Robb said. The students at both locations have been “troupers” and seamlessly adjusted to the circumstances.
“Once they’re working, they’re in their own world,” she said. “We just look different because we have masks on. They all get it, have been cooperative and thankful they still have the opportunity.”
“The best part is the community of other artists, and we get to know their style and connect it to make one piece,” said senior Moline apprentice Rebecca Quick, a 21-year-old Moline High alum. “We’re sweating like crazy, but keeping our distance and we’re making it work.”
“There have been a lot of changes due to the virus, but obviously things aren’t that different,” said Kamryn Linskey, a 2020 Sherrard High grad who last year did Metro Arts at the MLK Center in Rock Island. “It’s definitely the same amount of fun as last year. Working with Sarah, it’s been awesome.”
Since Friendship Manor is a larger project, which involved nearby Olivet Baptist Church, Robb will take a break after this week, and start another five weeks in late July with a new group of 11 or 12 apprentices to finish the building by the time school starts.
“That was by design, because it is such a large project, we split it up into essentially groups and two projects,” Maynard said, noting stipends for the apprentices are $500 each; $750 for the senior apprentice, and $2,000 for lead artists.
“Most of the cost for the mural goes into the labor and materials. We do have a small administration fee, which is around 9 percent of the total cost. We typically ask building owners to come up with some of those funds,” he said, noting they typically pay at least $4,000 and an average mural costs around $10,000, based on size and number of apprentices.
The three-student improv comedy group meets daily at Schwiebert Park in Rock Island and is led by Erin Mahr, a Rocky grad who did improv with Metro Arts in 2002. “So it’s fun to be on the other side now,” she said. “At the time, I didn’t think I’d ever teach it. I had so much fun learning improv games at the time, and I thought it was a great opportunity to earn money while learning a fun skill like improv. I enjoyed ComedySportz, learning the different games and skills there.”
Mahr was in ComedySportz from 2010 until last year, when it disbanded, and is a performer with G.I.T. Improv.
This year, with students masked, “It’s been an interesting year,” she said. Mahr was co-lead artist last year with Patrick Adamson, at Rock Island’s former Establishment Theatre, now owned by the Center for Living Arts. They’re outside this year, partly to be safer health-wise.
“In improv, you have to work more with body language, being able to hear and understand each other,” Mahr said. “The apprentices have done a wonderful job of adapting and making the most of their experience, given the situation.”
Improv comedy translates to everyday life skills, she said. “It’s great for public speaking; it’s a great confidence builder, even just social skills.” Last week, they did a brief improv show July 2 for customers at Theo’s in downtown Rock Island.
“What I enjoy most about the improv program is the fact that I get to do something I love every day, and I also get to make new friends that otherwise wouldn’t have existed,” said Teddi White, 18, a new Bettendorf High grad in her second year of Metro Arts. “It’s a little difficult working with masks for a few reasons. It gets very hot very quickly, it’s harder to enunciate, and it’s harder to tell other’s facial expressions.”
“I love improv because it’s really flexible and free,” she said, noting she first did improv about eight years ago in a class at Davenport Junior Theatre and has been to multiple ComedySportz shows.
Covid also forced changes in how Metro Arts will present their annual showcase – virtually this year, at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 9 (on Facebook and the Quad City Arts YouTube channel).
“In a typical year, we’d have every apprentice in the same room, on stage, with their friends and family, talking about the projects they’ve completed and showing some pictures,” Maynard said. “That’s not an option this year, so we’re bringing 3-4 people from each group to talk about their project. We would bring on everybody, but we are limited in how many we can have in the program we use, at one time.”
The showcase will display photos of the groups and their work, including recorded clips of the improv group that will be shared as well. It’ll be part of Quad City Arts’ newest video series, “7 with Kevin Live.”
For the showcase, the improv students will offer some puns (each from home), and not scene work. “It’s difficult to do that on multiple different screens at the same time,” Mahr said. Last year, there were nine apprentices doing improv.
This year, it’s smaller because it was harder to promote with school being out the last quarter. “There was a possibility we were going to have to teach online, and improv is very interactive and sometimes it works online, and others it’s more difficult to do online,” she said.
There is an additional Metro Arts project planned this fall in downtown Davenport.
The cultural life of the Quad-Cities is lifted in part by public art that is on permanent and temporary display throughout Davenport, Bettendorf, and Rock Island, thanks to Quad City Arts’ public sculpture program.
In June, six public sculptures in Bettendorf and four in Rock Island were replaced with new ones, featuring colorful, creative and whimsical work from artists throughout the Midwest. Each city chose to keep one sculpture from last year’s selection for another year.
Quad City Arts has facilitated the leasing and installation of public sculpture in the area since 2002, starting with the city of Davenport – which now has nine outdoor sculptures on permanent display (find the locations on our website under Public Sculpture Program). The city of Rock Island has participated in the program every year since 2007 and Bettendorf, since 2008.
For the first time, Renew Moline will join the effort, in sponsoring sculptures.
Arriving on the riverfront near 15th Street this week will be “Swans On the Marsh” by V. Skip Willits of Camanche, Iowa. “I was walking along the shore of a marsh by the river one day and spied three swans on the water. This is my rendition of that scene,” the sculptor said.
Arriving June 29 outside of the new Kone building near Bass Street Landing in Moline will be “Metamorphosis” by Hilde DeBruyne of Cumming, Iowa. She describes her piece as an “organic, contemporary, streamlined sculpture in steel. It refers to the Metamorphosis of butterflies.
“Butterflies are a symbol of transformation, because of their impressive process of metamorphosis,” she said. “By observing butterflies, we can relate to our own lives: Each of us transforms through multiple stages in our life: moments of growing pains, times of hunger and vulnerability followed by moments of tremendous energy, growth, wonder and amazement.”
All of the sculptures are for sale and can be purchased by individuals, businesses or the city for permanent installation after June of the following year.
“When people see art in a community, they know that the city leaders value culture and they take pride in their community,” Dawn Wohlford-Metallo, Quad City Arts’ visual arts director, said. “When sculpture is around, or murals, or other kids of amenities, people feel good about their surroundings and then they want to live there."
And the sculptures are very popular sites for people to take selfies, she noted.
The sculptures are leased and on public display for a one-year period (each artist gets a $1,200 stipend), at which point they may be purchased for permanent installation or be replaced with new sculpture. In 2019, we coordinated the installation of 12 sculptures with the financial support of Rock Island and Bettendorf, Rock Island Parks & Recreation, Bettendorf Library Foundation and Ascentra Credit Union, showing their commitment to the cultural and artistic vitality of our community.
Courtney Lyon of Ballet Quad Cities loves “Growing Up” – at the foot of the Centennial Bridge in Rock Island, created by Ben Pierce, 36, of Cape Girardeau. Mo. It was installed at the visitor’s center in Rock Island last year and will remain for another year.
“I see it every day when I drive into Rock Island for work,” said Lyon, artistic director of the ballet company. “Even though my mind is typically already busy with what will be happening during the day, I always notice the sculpture. I instantly recognize that my car is crossing an area where civilization abruptly meets nature. It snaps me out of my ‘work’ brain and it makes me blink and look around and come into the present.
“The sculpture stands strong and tall, circles filled with bricks, triangles filled with blue. I think about the artist and their choice of putting the blue water in the angular container, and the red bricks in the smooth container,” she said. “ It seems so simple that by switching what seems natural, something that could have been normal and expected becomes unique and unforgettable. Would I have thought to do that?
“I realize that I just crossed over the Mighty Mississippi. Even though we built a bridge to cross it, and flood walls to protect us, the river is far more powerful than we are,” Lyon said.
“Delightfully, the blue of the sculpture pops! Sometimes it is the brightest thing around as I come off the bridge if the skies are grey, the water flat, the trees bare.”
The sculpture pays homage to Pierce’s family history and lineage of bricklayers.
“My father is a 3rd-generation bricklayer and I spent a lot of time as a kid on the jobsite,” he recalled. “I would play in sand piles that were used to mix with the Portland cement and water to make the mortar. I remember climbing up on the scaffolding and watching my dad as he laid bricks. Using or mimicking a plant-like form, to show growth.
“Placing the bricks inside a circular shape on a form that is largely angular highlights the brick to showcase their value. As the form grows, the bricks are an integral part -- just like in my own growth and childhood,” Pierce said.
While there are very few Q-C artists that do large sculptures, one is featured this year – Moline’s David Zahn, whose “Time Passes” is at Build to Suit on Bettendorf’s State Street, near the Waterfront Convention Center.
“The human form has always been a major element in my work,” he said. “Integrating images of people and blending them with abstract forms has been a long-lasting direction in my art. I strive to create a feeling of timelessness and a strong emotional element in each piece.”
A 57-year-old native of Norridge, Ill. (outside Chicago), Zahn has taught pottery and sculpture at Moline High School, and has made work that is nationally known and collected publicly and privately. He’s had bronze sculptures commissioned by Deere & Company, Scott County and the North Scott School District.
His sculptures include a large bronze of John Deere -- behind John Deere Seeding in Moline, near the entrance to Sylvan Island Park -- done in 2012 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the company; and bronzes in front of the Scott County Administration Building in Davenport and North Scott High School and Junior High in Eldridge, Iowa.
“Creating a realistic portrait, or a one-of-a-kind artwork for a specific purpose is always an exciting endeavor for me,” Zahn said on his website, dzahnsculpture.com. “I also like to have a bit of mystery in my art, so don’t be surprised if you can’t figure out exactly what is going on. My work is imaginative, thought provoking, and surrealistic at times, so the viewer has to make some of their own conclusions.”
Near Zahn’s work, on the plaza at the Waterfront Convention Center (2021 State St.), you can see “Talk, Talk, Smile” by Leslie Bruning of Omaha, Neb.
The artist described it as a conversation that determines quality of life on a neighborhood street. Neighbors need to converse with each other, and they can be most effective if they do it with a smile on their face.
The perforated steel creates a translucent quality that brings the faces and words in and out of focus and allows the viewers to see each other through the sculpture. This encourages a sense of shared space on the street. The meaning of this sculpture has never been more important.
Other Bettendorf pieces include:
Rock Island public art includes:
Hampton Cranes of Bettendorf donated its time and services to install the public sculptures again, which can cost up to $30,000 each to purchase.
This year’s funders for the program are the City of Bettendorf, Bettendorf Library Foundation, City of Rock Island, Rock Island Parks and Recreation, and Renew Moline. The next call for entries from artists will be February 2021.
Quad City Arts has also launched a new video segment called "7 WITH KEVIN LIVE!", where the director, Kevin Maynard, interviews a variety of artists that are in some way connected to Quad City Arts.
Their latest episode highlights two sculpture artists whose work has been installed in the Quad Cities. Mr. Maynard also mentioned the ability to view all sculpture on their website along with driving directions on their Public Sculpture Program webpage.
On Thursday, June 11, Quad City Arts executive director Kevin Maynard introduced a new video feature, “Seven With Kevin Live.” To be streamed on the nonprofit’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, the episodes (of 30 minutes or less) get their name from Maynard’s monthly e-mail newsletter, sent on the first Monday each month.
The purpose of “Seven with Kevin Live” is to have a fun, conversational interview with artists that are in some way connected to Quad City Arts. Through all of our programs, we work with hundreds of artists throughout the year and our community is impacted by these artists through their performances, public art installations, and gallery exhibitions.
Our team has the added benefit of getting to work closer with these artists, which gives us the opportunity to learn more about them and their art. We want to share that with our audience. “Seven with Kevin Live” is meant to take a look behind the curtain and offer a deeper connection with the art being displayed and presented in our community.
We also aim to carry a bit of the flame lit by the late Bruce Carter, a local arts institution who was the longtime host of “Art Talks” on WVIK-FM.
The monthly Quad City Arts newsletter highlights seven things that are coming up, we are working on, or sometimes that Maynard just wants to talk about. “It can be random, fun, and hopefully thought-provoking,” he says. “Using that same style, we came up with seven questions that will end each interview.”
In each “Seven With Kevin” video (expected to be introduced every other Thursday night), Maynard will ask these “lightning round” questions of his guests:
The first June 11 video featured an interview with photographer Ken Urban, of Durant, Iowa, who with painter Margaret Ertz of Burlington, Iowa, are the featured artists in the Rock Island gallery through June 19. Maynard spoke with Quad City Arts visual arts director Dawn Wohlford-Metallo about Ertz’s work.
Be sure to tune in with Kevin – it’s heaven!!
The title, “Quarantine Art Exhibition,” should not be considered the theme that drives your art. It only should identify when the art was created or completed. Quad City Arts would like to encourage artists to use this time to create new art and provide an opportunity to showcase it.
Whatever artwork you have felt compelled to create during this time of uncertainty, Quad City Arts wants to share it with the public at a time when we hope to be able to gather socially again to celebrate the power of creativity. All artists residing within a 250-mile radius of the Quad Cities are invited to submit up to two artworks of any medium created during the Quarantine period which began in March 2020, for a juried, group exhibition in Quad City Arts’ Rock Island Gallery from January 29-March 19, 2021. There is NO entry fee.
Quad City Arts is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to enriching the quality of life in the Quad City region through the arts. Support for art exhibitions is provided by the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Quad Cities Cultural Trust.
Quad City Arts Gallery is located at 1715 Second Avenue in the Arts and Entertainment District of Rock Island. For more information, contact Dawn Wohlford-Metallo 309-793-1213 X108, or by email.