#ColorOurCollections Week Featured Artist: Mary Costello

This week marks another #ColorOurCollections Week. We are pleased to offer the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center’s Coloring Book Volume 3: From the Mayflower to the Lock & Dam. This volume celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony. In addition to this nautical voyage, we are also featuring riverine coloring pages depicting local Mississippi imagery.

Our last coloring page is a sketch of the Cresent Railroad Bridge by Mary Charlotte Aubry Costello. Mary Costello is a local author, artist, and former Davenport art teacher.  She was born to John C. and Helen B. (Ashley) Aubry. She attended St. Mary’s High School in Moline and holds degrees Marycrest College in Davenport and the University of Iowa. Her father was employed for 40 years by Rock Island Lines, Silvis Shops as a boilermaker. In October 1951, Mary married Kenneth Costello at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Moline. They had six children: Barbara, Judith, Patrick, Thomas, Roger, and John.

Over a decade, Mary researched for her book, Climbing the Mississippi River Bridge by Bridge, in two volumes, by traveling the length of the mighty river (beginning in New Orleans and moving north to Itasca, Minnesota) where she took photos, made sketches, and conducted interviews. These books were conceived from her work as an art teacher at McKinley School in Davenport, where she taught a unit on bridges. Volume 1 was published in 1995, and volume 2, which was devoted to the bridges in Minnesota, in 2002. Additionally, she has exhibited her artwork, much of it river-life related, across the Quad Cities area.

In 2008, the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center received Mary’s collection of research materials and sketches of the bridges spanning the Mississippi River. These papers are related to research done for volume 1, which begins with the bridges in Louisiana and ends with the Winneshiek Slough Bridge near the Iowa/Minnesota border. There is some material related to her second volume, specifically the headwaters area in Itasca State Park in Minnesota and the swing bridge in Inver Grove, Minnesota. There are additional folders relating to riverboat tourism, gambling, and the Big River Rendezvous.

Each bridge has its own folder (or multiple folders) and the contents within the folders contain Mary’s preliminary sketches, snapshots that she took, as well as notes on the history of the bridges. The following images are scans of Mary Costello’s collection.

Crescent Railroad Bridge

Master Sgt. Stanley Talbot Memorial Bridge (Centennial Bridge)

Sylvan Slough Bridge

Books in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center by Mary Costello:

Climbing the Mississippi River bridge by bridge by Costello, Mary Charlotte Aubry.

Mississippi River dreams : coming of age in the 1850s by Mary Charlotte Aubry Costello.

posted by Kathryn

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