Happy Quad Cities Museum Week!
The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center celebrates the Figge Museum of Art (the Davenport Public Library’s partner in this year’s Read Wild Summer Reading Program) by sharing these examples of its commitment to local artists and art collectors in the 1940s and ’50s. These exhibition guides and announcements are from our Davenport Municipal Art Gallery/Davenport Museum of Art (predecessors of the Figge) collection, #2004-70.
The First Exhibition of Art and Artist Along the Mississippi took place at at the Davenport Municipal Gallery in April of 1940 and included paintings by twenty Quad City area artists: Norma Anderson, John Bloom, Ed Clark, Dan Enich, Grace French Evans, Evelyn Blunt Ficke, Marjorie W. Godley, Helen Hinrichsen, Irma Rene Koen, Reginald Neal, Paul Norton, Louise Paterson, Ella Preston, Emilie Sass, Mary F. Schroder, Helen Loosly Stone, Ruth Currens Waterman, Frank Weisbrook, and Lou Weisbrook.
The work of some of the individual local artists whose names appear in the above list, such as Reginald Neal and Helen Hinrichsen, were later presented at the Gallery.
Rock Island resident Neal showed “kodachrome slides of many of the interesting places in which he painted and sketched” on his “trip to Old Mexico” in connection with his one-man show in 1945. Hinrichsen, a Davenport illustrator and painter, was commissioned to create local public art including the Davenport Centennial Mural and the stairway decorations for the Petersen-Harned-Von Maur store. Her solo exhibition at the Gallery was in November, 1955.
Then as now, the Gallery supported art education in Quad Cities area schools. This is the cover of a program for the Secondary Art Exhibit of the Davenport Community Schools held in May, 1959.
The Quad Cities was also home to several serious art collectors. In the spring of 1942, the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery presented A Loan Exhibition of Oil Paintings from Private Art Collections of the Quad Cities for the public’s enjoyment. Collectors included such recognizable names as E. P. Adler, Mrs. William Butterworth, Mrs. C. A. Ficke, Frank Kohrs, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin B. Lindsay, Dorothy Struck, Dr. and Mrs. Karl Vollmer, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Weisbrook.
Works exhibited ranged from Rembrandt and other Dutch Masters to contemporary artists such as Georges Bracque. 19th-century American artists are also well represented.
Individual local collectors were also honored by the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery. Helen Loosely Stone, a Moline resident and member of “a small group of persons possessing a high degree of esthetic awareness [who] met regularly to study and enjoy Japanese and Chinese color-prints,” possessed an impressive collection of works in this genre. After her death, her friends and family arranged to have the prints donated to the Gallery. Her collection was exhibited in October, 1956.
For more information on the history of the Figge Art Museum, visit the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center of the Davenport Library. Other archival collections include the records of the Friends of the Davenport Museum of Art (#2004-68), the Davenport Museum of Art Guild (#2004-68), and the Beaux-Arts organization (#2004-71).