Abraham Lincoln is listening to a young man seated on a railroad track. Lincoln’s deep-set eyes look outward, not returning the gaze of the young man. His left hand rises to his face in a speaking gesture, but his smile seems to have frozen – cut off as if by a sudden realization.

Stylistically, the Porter Building – in the Annie Wittenmyer complex at 2800 Eastern Avenue in Davenport – is an English Period Cottage. Its half-timbered frame and steep pitched gables are drawn from European medieval building techniques.

Its architectural style is fairly unusual for the Quad Cities. What really sets it apart visually, however, is its playful, creative brickwork. Regular rows of bricks give way to unorthodox coursing patterns in the middle section of the walls. Like a stream of consciousness, like the drip paintings by Jackson Pollock, the rows of bricks wrap around large stones, rise up and down in waves, then – suddenly – are stacked at odd angles.

The building was designed by Bradley Rust (1908 -2000), an Iowa City architect. It is his earliest work that still stands, and perhaps his most creative. Nearly 500 construction and remodeling projects created by Rust are maintained by the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City.

There isn’t another building in the Quad Cities quite like it. Its connections to history, however, are equally unexpected. And genuinely significant.

Playgrounds can be innovative, bold environments with intriguing sculptural forms: their colors bright and exciting; their designs active - imprinted with the rhythms of jumping, climbing, running, and hanging. They can capture our imagination as fully as abstract works of fine art.


"When I was a child in Australia," says 75-year-old Ron Campbell, "the way you saw cartoons was you went to the movies on Saturday afternoons, which was the way the movie industry catered to the children's audience. We went to see Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, but before all that bang-bang cowboy stuff, there were cartoons. And I remember thinking, when I was like seven years old, that Tom and Jerry were real, and were somehow behind the screen running around.

The Giant Wheel rises to a height of 110 feet above Modern Woodmen Park's baseball field in Davenport. This exciting addition to the Quad Cities' riverfront is part viewing platform, part light display, part landmark. It is also a part of our regional history.

Many thanks to those who submitted entries to our 2015 photography contest, with the categories "On the Waterfront," "School's Out," "Summer in the City," and "Hot Stuff!" Our favorites are presented here, along with any comments from the photographer. Click on each photo for a larger version.

The River Cities' Reader's summer photo contest has returned, with four new categories for your submissions: "On the Waterfront," "School's Out," "Summer in the City," and "Hot Stuff!"

Photo by Bruce Walters

The height of the five-story Black Hawk mural in the Rock Island District is what first catches our eye. Our attention continues to be held as we begin to realize that much of the mural is a painted illusion of three-dimensional space - blended seamlessly with actual architectural forms. Its most compelling aspect, however, may be the clash of values between Native American culture and ours that can be discovered in the work.

Bruce Carter at a 2014 exhibit of his work at Atom Gallery. Photo courtesy of the Carter family.

When Bruce de Gouveia Carter died on November 24 at age 66, he left the Quad Cities art community with a gaping hole.

Portrait of Bruce Carter by his wife, Laura Carter. Photo courtesy of the Carter family.He was a visual artist, a teacher, and an art-store manager. But his largest legacy to the arts community was as a tireless promoter - for more than two decades giving artists of all stripes a forum to discuss their work on his Art Talks radio program on Augsustana College's WVIK and, earlier, St. Ambrose University's KALA. Guests in recent months included mostly visual artists, or course, but also a chef, leaders of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, members of the Bucktown Revue and the Prenzie Players, and a poet. His show was omnivorous in the best possible sense. (WVIK will host a special memorial program for Carter at 7 p.m. on January 15.)

He also wrote art reviews for the River Cities' Reader from 2006 to 2008, and his writing displayed curiosity, openness, insight, intelligence, wide-ranging knowledge, and generosity. That rare combination, presented in approachable yet smart and eloquent prose, amounted to unspoken encouragement to readers: He made you want to visit each show, because he discovered and articulated how the work spoke to him. Like the best critics, he wasn't judging so much as honestly seeing and digesting the art.

River Cities' Reader issue #868For the seventh year in a row, Davenport's Figge Art Museum will host its College Invitational exhibition, a celebration of visual artwork by students from area institutions Ashford University, Augustana College, Black Hawk College, Knox College, Monmouth College, St. Ambrose University, Scott Community College, the University of Iowa, and Western Illinois University. Works were selected by the art professors from each of the participating schools, and 58 individual pieces will be on display between November 8 and February 8.

As Figge Director of Education Melissa Mohr states, the 2014 College Invitational "showcases the creativity and skill of local art students, and demonstrates the dedication of our arts programs in encouraging young artists to innovate early on in their artistic careers." Seven of the exhibit's invited artists, meanwhile, agreed to share some thoughts on their works, their histories, and their passion for art - everything from biblical inspiration to payment in sweets to the internals of a really gross tomato.

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