He exhibited his artwork in group and solo exhibitions in the East Village of Manhattan in the 1980s and in traveling exhibitions of both prints and photography. He was included in the Silhouette show at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City in 2014.
Rayburn and his wife moved to the Quad-Cities in 1990, and from 1995 to 2012 he was President and CEO of W.G. Block Co. and its family of businesses, a leading Midwestern manufacturer of ready-mix concrete, sand and gravel and steel road-building products. He initially became involved in Quad City Arts with the idea of giving back to the community by volunteering.
“I quickly learned that by being involved, Quad City Arts was in fact giving me much more in return,” he said. “Quad City Arts overlaps with so many of the things my family and I hold dearly. We believe that community matters and to make the world a better place you have to first start close to home. I have stayed involved because Quad City Arts make the Quad Cities a better place and it has done so for 50 years.”
Initially, Rayburn volunteered as a committee member, progressing to committee chair, then board member and eventually serving in multiple officer positions over the years. He was on the board from approximately 1992 to 2007 and again from 2011 to 2020, and this is his last year.
Rayburn served as President of the Board in the late 1990s and again, 20 years later from 2018-2019. He also has been a member and occasional chair of the visual art and public art committees dating back to the early 1990s, and the first three “Face the River” community built and designed sculpture projects.
Rayburn also volunteered as the curator of the Art @ the Airport gallery for its first 20 years (laying out and installing over 120 exhibitions) and continue to work with Dawn Wohlford-Metallo at Quad City Arts on the artist pairings and exhibition schedule for all locations.
“The greatest benefit of Quad City Arts is its ability to bring experiences to the Quad-Cities that would otherwise not happen,” he said. “This could be bringing highly acclaimed performing artists from all corners of this country to underserved classrooms, or providing budding artists in all disciplines to showcase their talents via Metro Arts or the annual High School Art Show at the Rock Island Gallery or simply placing rotating regional art and sculpture at our airport and in our public spaces.
“Beyond these interactions, Quad City Arts uses the arts to provide deeper experiences for the children of our community in the form of classroom workshops that build essential life skills like listening and respect,” Rayburn said.
An exhibit highlight he was involved with was at Moline’s Quad City International Airport in 2010, of photos from local aviation history, between 1910 and the 1950s. The historic photos were chosen, enlarged, and reproduced by Rayburn.
They included photos by Gabe Mosenfelder, who used to run a clothing store in downtown Rock Island.
"I had always wanted to do a show like this," Rayburn said at the time. "I remember the old airport from when I was a kid growing up; the way cool stuff about the airport -- things that don't exist anymore."
Looking through the scrapbooks "gives you chills, literally," he said. "You could have done 10 shows, easily filling up the gallery just with photos of World War I."
In a perfect twist of fate, Mosenfelder’s old building is occupied by Quad City Arts, at 1715 2nd Ave.
Rayburn’s photos have been exhibited at Quad City Arts’ Rock Island gallery in the fall of 2016, in 2019. and the Moline Public Library in the fall of 2017. His work was in a group show at the Olson-Larsen Gallery in West Des Moines, July-September, 2018, and in New York City at the Bob Blackburn 20/20 Gallery.
This year has been a tumultuous one for the world and the Q-C arts community.
Late last year, Midcoast Fine Arts announced that it would be disbanding March 31, 2020, and worked with Quad City Arts to take over management of its Moline Centre Station gallery, the annual Riverssance Festival of Fine Arts, and High School Pastel Mural Competition. Then after the Covid pandemic hit, Quad City Arts had to completely reorganize how it did business.
Rayburn emphasized that Quad City Arts has always been scrappy and adaptable.
“It has grit. It has not been afraid to make hard decisions in the past when times were tough to protect its future and it has operated within its means,” he said. “I think this comes from its entrepreneurial arts council roots and is key to its survival.
“Luckily, Quad City Arts has grown wildly beyond its origin while at the same time maintaining its entrepreneurial essence,” Rayburn said. “Last year you saw evidence of this as Quad City Arts was in a strong position to step in and assume several of the programs and events from Midcoast in the hopes that they would carry on and continue to grow.”
“You are now seeing Quad City Arts’ adapting in real time as we all negotiate through Covid-19. It is a constant scramble and Kevin and the staff are making remarkable adjustments to keep the programs going in a safe and accessible way,” he said. “This is not easy! Performing artists are now live streaming vs. performing in person, Chalk Art Fest is going virtual versus on the streets of our cities and hundreds of volunteers had to reimagine our largest fundraiser Festival of Trees on its 35-year anniversary.
“These are monumental accomplishments all made by a relatively small but incredibly talented and dedicated staff and community volunteers.”
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