Quad City Arts Has Been Enriching The Region With Public Art For Over Two Decades
Many public places throughout the Quad-Cities are more beautiful and colorful because of Quad City Arts, which marks its 50th anniversary this year.
The late executive director Lloyd Schoeneman (who died at 49 in 2001 from cancer) was the driving force behind our public sculpture program. In the 1990s, Lloyd introduced the concept of community-built art to the Quad-Cities, organizing design charrettes which resulted in the Navigation Steps at Leach Park (Bettendorf) the Nature Spiral at Illiniwek Park (Hampton) and the Lindsay Park Architectural Sculpture Park (Village of East Davenport).
He also was administrator for the “Face the River” public sculpture project in the area.
Schoeneman led the concept for an interactive and educational park, with a series of design meetings facilitated by Quad City Arts. Nearly 50 area historic preservationists, businesspeople, recreation enthusiasts, and river activists came together over a two-year period to develop the community-built project along the parkway south of the Village of East Davenport.
Lori Roderick and John Gere were its primary designers, with Roderick serving as the project’s lead artist. The architectural sculpture park was dedicated and presented to the City of Davenport on May 22, 1999.
Quad City Arts has formally facilitated 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. The city of Rock Island has participated in the program every year since 2007 and Bettendorf, since 2008.
Davenport’s began 18 years ago, with plans to establish a cultural corridor along the Mississippi River on 2nd Street, as the city saw public art as a way to draw attention to the developing cultural scene. The year-long rental of sculptures by regional artists and facilitated by Quad City Arts, continued in Davenport through 2011.
In 2007, The Downtown Rock Island Arts and Entertainment District embraced public sculpture by the renting three sculptures, funded by the City of Rock Island and placed in the downtown area. In addition to a growing number of murals, new shops, loft apartments and Riverview condos, the sculptures became a vital component of the city’s strategic plan objective to include the creation, performance, sale, and public display of art.
Moline Centre Partners joined program in 2007, by renting five sculptures for their downtown. With three of the Quad-Cities participating, a brochure was designed and marketed through the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Moline stayed in the program for two years, until the Moline Centre Partners dissolved; Renew Moline has since gotten involved.
The City of Bettendorf joined the program in 2008 and has continued to select and rent at least three sculptures per year ever since. Bettendorf has purchased five pieces for the city’s permanent collection.
The Davenport RiverCenter began leasing sculptures with the 2012-13 program year and then opted to use the “rent to own” clause to purchase two works.
“While difficult to measure the impact, public art conveys that the people who live in a city that invests in art are invested in their community,” said Dawn Wohlford-Metallo, Quad City Arts’ visual arts director.
“When people see art in a community, they know that the city leaders have a designed a vibrant place to live, where people want to spend time. Where there is art, there is likely to be other recreational amenities” she said.
“It also shows that the community does not have a transient population, but is one that is invested in the people, open to new ideas and willing to take risks. In addition, a city enriched with public art, and one that offers cultural amenities, is a city that attracts businesses. When
Volkswagen chose Chattanooga, the arts environment was a deciding factor.”
Public art is a way to develop a downtown into a cultural destination, Wohlford-Metallo said. “People may come to see a sculpture, then stop and eat at a restaurant, shop or enjoy other cultural offerings.”
To date, 164 sculptures have been leased through the Public Sculpture Program.
This June, six 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.
Renewing Moline with art
For the first time, Renew Moline has joined the effort, in sponsoring sculptures.
On the riverfront near 15th Street is “Swans On the Marsh” by V. Skip Willits of Camanche, Iowa, and at the Kone building near Bass Street Landing in Moline is the blue “Metamorphosis” by Hilde DeBruyne of Cumming, Iowa.
DeBruyne describes her Moline 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. 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.”
“Public art is an important feature of a vibrant downtown,” said Alexandra Elias, President/CEO of Renew Moline. “We are happy to welcome these works to our riverfront experience.”
The City of Moline was in the planning stages of a Downtown Moline Public Art Master Plan when the pandemic limited public interaction. The plan is on hold until such time as the public can be re-engaged in the process. In the meantime, the Public Sculpture Program offers a convenient opportunity to bring joy to the community through public art.
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. And they’re very popular sites for people to take selfies.
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.
Renew Moline’s latest art project focuses on a dilapidated brick building, right off the 74 bridge on Moline’s riverfront, all about possibility. Artist Brandon Nees is thrilled about bringing that surging potential to colorful life.
The 25-year-old Davenport artist, who graduated from Moline High School, has been chosen to create a $10,000 public mural on nine panels of the boarded-up ground floor of the Spiegel Building, 200 20th St., just north of River Drive.
Renew Moline partnered with the City of Moline and Quad City Arts to issue a call for entries, resulting in 28 submissions from artists around the Midwest. Renew’s Public Art Steering Committee evaluated 20 of the proposals and chose three for further consideration.
On Sept. 8, Nees’ proposed concept was endorsed by the Project Management Team (PMT), a public/private partnership between Renew Moline and the city to offer guidance and input on downtown projects. Ald. David Parker, a member of the PMT, said that he thought the street-art style proposal was “perfect” for the building and expressed his excitement to see the project complete.
“This proposal is unique,” said Kevin Maynard, Quad City Arts executive director and Public Art Steering Committee member. “There really isn’t another public art project like it in the Quad-Cities. We are excited to see how art can elevate this building aesthetically and economically.”
It is expected to be created in Nees’ home studio and installed on the building in mid-October 2020.
New sculptures in Rock Island, Bettendorf
In 2020, Quad City Arts coordinated 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.
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.”
Promoting local art for 19 years
Wohlford-Metallo has worked at Quad City Arts since 2001.
After studying art at Truman State University and Arizona State, she attended the University of Colorado and earned an MFA in sculpture in 1988.
Wohlford-Metallo moved back to her hometown in Iowa in 1998 and she became visual arts director at Quad City Arts, overseeing two art galleries and the public sculpture program.
Additionally, she serves on the Acquisitions Committee for the Figge Art Museum and teaches papermaking at Gilda’s Club. After caring for her home and family, Wohlford-Metallo creates art in the wee hours of the night. She consistently exhibits her work in regional exhibitions.
Quad City Arts typically reaches 350,000 art participants a year and 5,000 artists of all disciplines. We are dedicated to the growth and vitality of the Quad-City region through the presentation, development, and celebration of the arts.
The organization envisions a vibrant, dynamic region where artists, residents, and visitors are engaged in diverse opportunities in the arts and humanities.
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.”
Other Bettendorf pieces include:
- “Uncle Andy” on the hillside in Faye’s Field near the Bettendorf Public Library. Created by Paul Bobrowitz of Colgate, Wis., “Uncle Andy” is everyone’s favorite uncle taking the kids for a walk in the park to enjoy nature.
- At Martha’s Point on State Street and River Drive, notice “Windows” also by Bobrowitz. “ ‘Windows’ is my representation of three divergent points of view through that window,” the artist said. It is relevant at this time in the world when people have differing opinions about everything going on.
- At the entrance to Veteran’s Memorial Park on 23rdStreet, you can see “Triumph,” also by Ben Pierce. “I take a minimalist approach to my designs; this sculpture is no exception. ‘Triumph’ was created as part of a series of work where I challenged myself to create by limiting my design elements to only use two straight lines and one circle. Unintentionally this sculpture began to look like a person with their arms stretched out above them in a victorious pose, which is where I derived the title.” (Pierce has a permanent sculpture at Faye’s Field.)
- At the Bettendorf Community Center will be “Seeking Shelter” by Andrew Arvanetes of Chicago. “My sculptures have always been object-oriented and narrative in nature. I attempt to achieve this connection with my audience by utilizing universal visual details.”
- On display for another year is “Just Visiting” by Donald Horstman, an 80-year-old artist from Fenton, Mo. It represents a flock of butterflies taking off in front of Ascentra Credit Union, on State Street.
Rock Island public art includes:
- Patrons to the Southwest branch library can enjoy “Awake” by Miki Lemieuxof Chicago, which refers to the “understory” of organic matter and life.
- Near the Genesius Guild Classic Theater in Lincoln Park, picnickers will discover “Reaching to the Moon” by Tim Frye, of Shumway, Ill. “Our never-ending dreams consist of growing and always reaching upward. It is interesting that nature too moves in this way,” the artist said. “This sculpture was designed to have kinetic motion. The upper section sways gently in the wind.”
- Horstman also created “Spring Fling” at Longview Park. “Spring is the time for seeds to be blown in the wind,” he said.
- Just outside Longview Park at the intersection known as “Five Points” will be “Moon Shadow” by Peter N. Gray of Chicago, installed by July 4. It was inspired by last year’s full eclipse of the moon.
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.
Continuing to work as a facilitator and connector
Quad City Arts offers services to local organizations and businesses interested in large-scale mural projects or sculptures, by through its connections with artists all over the country.
When the CEO of Genesis Medical Center in Davenport had a vision for a sculptural fountain as part of the landscaping and grand entrance to the new East Campus hospital addition, their staff searched for the right sculptor for over a year before approaching Quad City Arts for
The nonprofit (which serves a six-county region) has the resources and connections to sculptors across the nation; wrote a call for proposals and found the perfect sculptor in a matter of weeks.
The Genesis East renovation and expansion was finished in 2018 at a cost of $150 million.
At the hospital’s main entrance (which includes waterfalls) is Tempest Ballet, a stainless-steel sculpture that spirals upward. Nearly 10 feet in height, the sculpture was created by Amie Jacobsen, a multi-faceted artist and designer who lives in Kansas City.
Jacobsen earned her MFA in illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she also taught in the foundations, illustration, and e-learning departments. Her work includes metal sculptures, artisan furniture, décor, and painting.
Jacobsen wrote that the sculpture’s title was “inspired by the form itself. I thought it reminded me of the wind swirling, like in a storm, which is where ‘tempest’ came from. But it’s also graceful and coordinated, like a dance.”
To see what public sculptures in the area are currently on display, visit quadcityarts.com/public-sculpture.html.