They say “hindsight is 20/20.” Well, most of us would like to put 2020 in the rear view mirror, but the Figge Art Museum wants you to reflect a bit before you do.

Michelle Hargrave is the executive director and CEO of the Figge Art Museum

The landmark facility at 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport, is highlighting this crazy year in a new exhibition opening on Wednesday, Dec. 23.

“2020 Vision: You Are Here, You Are Not Alone” will be installed in the Figge’s second-floor Mary Waterman Gildehaus Community Gallery and will provide several chances for visitors to participate and contribute in person or from home. It will offer an opportunity to think, reflect, and create in the present moment with clarity – with 2020 vision.

“It’s a weird year,” Figge CEO Michelle Hargrave said Monday. Of the new exhibit, she noted: “It’s going to be a work in progress. We came up with it because 2020 has really been a challenging year for everyone. And the Figge is committed to helping our community heal, through the power of art.”

She and the museum believe every moment is a gift and visitors are encouraged to be mindful of their surroundings as they engage fully with activities in the gallery space, designed to reflect on the challenges of the past and the hopefulness of the future.

“Although it may not always feel that way, you’re not alone. The exhibition offers an opportunity to slow down, to think, reflect and create,” Hargrave said.

The Figge Cafe will remain closed until Feb. 16, 2021

“It encourages looking at the present moment with clarity, or with 2020 vision,” she said. “We’re reminding our visitors that every moment is a gift and we’re hoping that the exhibition will help people be mindful of their surroundings, as they engage fully with the activities in the gallery or online.”

The museum activities include —

In person or at home:

  • Our Community – Photo Projection – send us a picture of your work-from-home, school-from-home, quarantine, or pandemic-life including portraits, selfies, or photos that represent what you and/or your family are going through.
  • 2020/2021 Activity – write down a silver lining or an accomplishment from 2020 and a word of hope for the future.
  • Appreciation Chain – on a mask template, write down what you are thankful for. It can be a word, phrase, memory or an experience. They will be taped to the chain on the gallery wall.
  • Postcards of Thanks– use the materials provided or use your own to create a postcard for members of the healthcare community. Cards created at home can be dropped off at the front desk box and will be delivered locally to frontline healthcare workers.

In person:

  • Color Your World – color one of the pages that is part of the larger landscape scene on the wall. There will be a number on the back of the page to orient you for where it fits in the larger landscape.
  • Corners –Listen, Give Yourself a Hug, Breathe, and Best Wishes

“For America: 200 Years of Painting from the National Academy of Design” will open on Feb. 20, 2021.

The “world” created aims to remind people that what they draw is not only part of an bigger artwork, but they individually are part of the larger community, Hargrave said.

All the gallery spaces have limits on the number of people that can be in them at one time, she said. Patrons at the Figge have “been amazing,” Hargrave said. “We’ve had a number of people reach out and say they’re grateful we have these policies in place, and so obviously, our first priority is the safety and health of our staff and our visitors. I’ve been very pleased we haven’t had pushback on that.”

Among museum visitor policies are:

  • Masks are required for all visitors age 3 and older. Masks must be worn over mouth and nose.
  • Children under 12 must stay with parent(s) or guardian(s) at all times.
  • Please use the hand sanitizing stations on each level and wash hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Observe posted signage throughout the museum with instructions for your health and safety.
  • Please practice social distancing during your visit by keeping 6 feet between you and other guests.

“We’ve had a few people commenting that they feel like we’re the safest place in the Quad-Cities, and that makes me feel happy,” Hargrave said.

The art museum is at 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport.

For community members who are not able visit in person, the Figge is offering a way to participate in the new exhibit from home. Responses for the at-home activities can be sent to 2020VisionFigge@gmail.com with the subject being the title of the activity you are responding to. All submissions will be added to the installation in the gallery by a Figge staff member.

For full details on how to participate, visit www.figgeartmuseum.org.

 “In a year that has been difficult for many, this exhibition offers fun and restorative activities for everyone,” Hargrave said. “We hope that all in our community will participate and take away something positive.”

“2020 Vision” will be on view through Feb. 14, 2021. The Figge Café is currently closed and will reopen Feb. 16.

Celebrating “Off the Wall” and American art

One of the changes to the Figge’s 2020 came with the annual “Art Off the Wall” auction. It was held earlier this month, mostly online, through Dec. 13, and was a success, Hargrave said.

“Like everyone else, we had to pivot and re-imagine what we were doing with an event that’s been around for many years and has been quite successful in its original form,” Hargrave said. “We had to be creative and think about how we could engage people. It went well and I think people really enjoyed the opportunity to bid online and pick up some artwork before the holidays.”

The auction of donated artworks, jewelry and other items was a re-envisioned event that was popular at the old Davenport Museum of Art.

The recent “Art Off the Wall” auction sold donated artworks from the community.

It was then brought back in 2015 at the Figge Art Museum, held online this year.

“It’s a testament to how wonderful our community is,” Hargrave said of the many donated pieces. The total amount raised in the auction is still being calculated, she said.

Hargrave is looking forward to the next blockbuster exhibit at the Figge, to open Feb. 20 — “For America,” which features over 90 works made between 1810 and 2010 by some of the greatest American artists, drawn from the collections of the National Academy of Design in New York. The Figge is finalizing its programs and community partnerships for that.

“We’re also working on an online micro-site,” Hargrave said. “It’s super exciting. We had a donor come through with a gift that’s allowing us to put together this site. The micro-site will feature tours of the exhibition; it will almost be like being in the gallery, virtually. People can go into the different rooms, galleries of the exhibition.

Advertisement

“They can zoom in on artwork, zoom in on labels,” she said. “Some will have videos, and there will be some fun educational activities that people can participate with online.”

The Figge may limit the number of people for their programs connected to the exhibit, with many virtual offerings, Hargrave said. “We’ll just have to be responsive to what’s going on with the pandemic,” she said. “While we would love to bring everyone in person for an opening event in February, we just realize that’s not a responsible thing to do.

“We’re thinking through how we can bring in the in-person experience to small groups of people at a time, as well as offering online programming throughout the course of the exhibition,” she said.

Hargrave moved to the Q-C last December from Connecticut, where she was deputy director of the New Britain Museum of American Art. The same exhibit opened there in October 2019.

The Figge is asking the public to submit photos and other items related to this year’s pandemic for an exhibit opening Wednesday.

“It was the perfect show for that museum as well, being an American art museum,” she said. “People just thought it was an incredibly beautiful exhibition. The stories were interesting. It was very well-received in Connecticut.”

From its founding in 1825 to the present, the National Academy has required all Academicians elected to donate a representative work to the Academy’s collection. From 1839 to 1994, the Academy also required Associates to present a portrait of themselves, whether painted by their own hand or that of a fellow artist.

This resulted in a collection of over 8,000 works by historical and contemporary masters such as Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, John Singer Sargent, Andrew Wyeth, Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith, Charles White, Jane Freilicher, and many others.

“For America” exhibit co-curator Jeremiah William McCarthy, Curator at the National Academy of Design, says: “This exhibition presents the way artists see the world alongside the way they see themselves inhabiting that world. It’s an unprecedented look at the history of American painting written by its makers.”

For America offers many opportunities for community collaborations with other Quad-City cultural organizations for musical, literary and historical programs, and will provide a new perspective on the American works in the city of Davenport and Figge collections.

“For America: 200 Years of Painting from the National Academy of Design” will tour to eight venues across the United States including the Figge, bringing important paintings to audiences across the country while also enriching the dialogue of scholars, students and artists of all ages with the firsthand experience of American masterpieces.

This will be the second exhibition made possible by the Major Exhibitions Endowment at the Figge. The first was French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950 which was at the Figge from October 2018­ to January 2019.

For hours, prices of admission, and more, visit www.figgeartmuseum.org.

Advertisement

Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.