Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra

Yogi’s words are illogical. But brilliant.

It is equally illogical to inlay a full-sized baseball diamond – made of brick and stone! – in the pavement west of Modern Woodmen Park, not far from the “real” one inside.

Two similar Quad Cities sculptures that could be best described as sentimental raise issues about the role of art. Although their tones are different, both pieces depict young girls with adult-male authority figures and are meant to reflect the goals of the organizations that host them.

Downtown Davenport was once bathed in the bright glow of neon signs. In a photo taken from the intersection of Main and Second streets in the 1940s, the Hansen’s Hardware neon sign in the foreground rises several stories over the street below. So does a nearby Kaybee sign. There are, seemingly, a dozen or more smaller neon signs in the block.

Today from the same vantage point, we see U.S. Bank, the Figge Art Museum plaza, and the Charles J. Wright Ground Transportation Center. The prominent Hansen neon sign? Long gone. So are all of the other large neon signs in the photo: Kaybee, The Hub, Three Sisters, Baker’s Shoes. Also gone are the even-more-impressive neon signs rising high above the downtown theatre marquees.

Neon signs from this past era, fortunately, can still be found elsewhere in the Quad Cities.

Regular River Cities’ Reader contributor Bruce Walters has created some Halloween-related videos and images using his 360-degree camera. (Walters loves Halloween.)

'Metamorphosis,' by Jacob McGinn. Photo by Bruce Walters.

'Metamorphosis,' by Jacob McGinn. Photo by Bruce Walters.

A human-like insect – larger than you – is frozen in a 10-foot-long stride. Its flailing arms are extended. All four of them.

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.

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.

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.

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