We received 116 entries in our 2014 Photo Contest in four categories: Fun in the Sun, In the Garden, Summer Nights, and Heat Wave. We're happy to present this selection of winners.

The Blues Brothers. Photo by Bruce Walters.

On May 2, the life-sized sculptures of the Blues Brothers were back on public display in the Rock Island District after months of storage and repairs. The sculptures are seated in chairs near the corner of Second Avenue and 18th Street.

On the same day, Watching the Ferry - a sculpture of two boys seated on a park bench - was unveiled at its new site in Davenport's Lindsay Park near the riverfront. This sculpture had been out of public view for five years, since its removal from near the Iowa American Water treatment plant when construction began on a floodwall.

Although the timing was a coincidence, the two sculptures share some similarities. Both depict two young men seated side-by-side and convey a sense of camaraderie. Both look to a past associated with the Quad Cities. Both are based on works in other media: television and film with the Blues Brothers and a lithograph with Watching the Ferry.

A comparison between the two pieces is intriguing because of this difference in their sources - as well as in their attitudes, materials, and locations.

Photo by Bruce Walters

The Lindsay Architectural Sculpture Park is a grouping of structural forms derived from historic styles of buildings and homes in the Quad Cities. The park is - in turn - visually engaging, playful, and educational. It is located along the Riverfront Parkway south of the Village of East Davenport.

The park's layout feels organic. Its overall circular shape is crisscrossed with walkways that lead one past - or through - 10 primary groupings of structural forms. The largest of these structures is a 30-foot-tall limestone tower. Its slate roof is constructed in the style of the Victorian towers and turrets built in the late 1800s.

A 2013 photo-contest winner by Jess Ellis

The theme for the River Cities' Reader 2014 photography contest is summer - in large part because we want to erase memories of our beastly winter.

The four categories are "Fun in the Sun," "In the Garden," "Heat Wave," and "Summer Nights."

The deadline for entries is May 9, and the rules are below. We plan to publish the winners in our May 29 issue.

(The photo above, by Jess Ellis, is a winner from our 2013 contest, incidentally.)

The current sign at the Col. Photo by Bruce Walters.

The Col Ballroom, at 1012 West Fourth Street in Davenport, is 100 years old this year. No other large ballroom in Iowa has reached a century of continuous operation. For that matter, neither has any ballroom in Chicago.

During the past century, the sign in front of the Col has been changed several times. The installation of a neon sign during the Jazz Age signaled a change in the cultural role of the ballroom. It was replaced when rock 'n' roll became king, re-made when rock went psychedelic, and duplicated when there wasn't a prevalent new direction in popular music.

Each sign had its own aesthetic, stylistically shaped by its era. Each is interesting in and of itself. However, they are all the more fascinating when we see them as a reflection of the sweep of changes in popular culture throughout the century.

Photo by Bruce Walters

Davenport's Skybridge is meant to be spectacular. Waves of color from 8,036 LED lights race the length of its 575-foot corridor at night. Brightly lit masts and tension rods angle upward and out, towering 100 feet over the River Drive traffic below.

The bridge's most successful feature, however, is its outstanding panoramic view of the river and the surrounding cityscape.

Photo by Bruce Walters

In rapt conversation, two women sit huddled on a bench in downtown Davenport. One draws back with her mouth comically agape, stunned by the words being spoken by the other.

The sculpture of these women is located on the north side of Second Street between Main and Brady. It's a wonder that its creator, B. Thomas Lytle, could capture this interaction with hammered and welded Cor-ten steel.

Photo by Bruce Walters

To enter Oakdale Memorial Gardens, at 2501 Eastern Avenue in Davenport, one passes through twin stone pillars that stand 12 feet tall. The Art Nouveau side gates, made of patterned iron bars and a metal plate with an oak-leaf design at its center, are both beautiful and imposing, solemnly announcing the dignified purpose of the site within. Passing between the center pillars, we feel we're leaving the commonplace behind.

Through this passage - constructed circa 1897 - is a refuge from the fast-paced world. Arranged on the park-like expanse of lawn that stretches over acres of gently rolling hills, with massive oak trees and flowering gardens, are thousands of graves - and also many sculptures .

Oakdale, Chippiannock Cemetery in Rock Island, Riverside Cemetery in Moline, and the Mount Calvary and Pine Hill cemeteries in Davenport were the first garden cemeteries in the Quad Cities. Established in the 1850s, they also served as the first public parks in the area, providing a place for the general public to enjoy magnificent sculptures and garden settings previously available only to the wealthy.

(Our botanical parks weren't developed until some three decades later, such as Vander Veer Botanical Park in Davenport in 1885; it was among the first botanical gardens west of the Mississippi.)

The cemetery sculptures in this article were selected, in part, because of the artists' skill but - more importantly - for the artworks' capacity to communicate concepts and emotions. These works are examples of what funerary art can accomplish within a clearly circumscribed purpose - to help the living celebrate, remember, and mourn the dead.

For the most part, these sculptures are not creative, personal expressions of the artist. Yet they are not uniform in the feelings they convey. Some are comforting; others are stark reminders that life is brief. Some are massive and exotic, others humble and typical but no less evocative.

Photo by Bruce Walters

Fifty years ago - on August 23, 1963 - approximately 2,000 people gathered at the LeClaire Park bandshell for a civil-rights rally that served as a warm-up for the national March on Washington. Twenty-eight local delegates who would participate in the historic march were introduced. They would hear Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech in the nation's capital five days later.

This was by no means the only rally at the bandshell. George W. Bush, for example, gave a campaign speech on its stage in 2004. Barack Obama spoke there three years later.

The bandshell has also served as center stage for numerous annual events -including the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, River Roots Live, the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra's Riverfront Pops concert. Past performers on the stage include Greg Brown, Albert Collins, Blue Öyster Cult, Buddy Guy, Little Feat, Los Lobos, The Marshall Tucker Band, and - this past weekend - the Wallflowers.

The bandshell's official name is the W.D. Petersen Memorial Music Pavilion. It was built in 1924 as a memorial to his daughter Wilma, who had died the previous year at the age of 38. Petersen paid for the pavilion's construction himself.

Freight House Farmers Market Entrance by Eric Mart. Photo by Bruce Walters.

The entrance to the Freight House Farmers Market - at 421 West River Drive in downtown Davenport - is framed by a 15-foot-tall arched entry. The artist, Eric Mart, also created the gateway to his studio and the Sol-Iron Gallery at 620 West Third Street, just a few blocks away. Although both entires are made entirely of metal and are similar in size, one is welcoming while the other is intimidating. Their impact is shaped, in large part, by their settings and our associations with the objects used.

The brightly painted, freestanding entrance to the Freight House Farmers Market is flanked by a variety of flowering plants. It feels friendly and open. The handmade, cutout letters are playful. In this good-natured context, the tines of the pitchfork at the top of the arch seem to reach upward, almost like the rays of a rising sun. The vintage rotary hoes seem like pinwheels and flowers. Although the archway serves as a business sign, it is also a striking sculptural form.

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