Q-C sculptor aims to ecourage, enhance art scene

Posted Online: July 15, 2014, 11:43 am
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By Grayson Schmidt, gschmidt@qconline.com
DAVENPORT -- Though the Figge Art Museum has a vast array of artwork behind its walls, it is a sculpture in the courtyard that has people stopping to take a look.

Artist Dean Kugler started working on his sculpture "Gravity" publicly on Monday and anticipates finishing on July 7. The sculpture is an angelic figure in a gargoyle-like pose that he works on every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Though he works non-stop, he finds time to talk with curious onlookers, of which there are quite a few. "I probably talk to four people an hour," Mr. Kugler said.

The sculpture at the moment is only a 7-foot tall steel frame wrapped with chicken wire and covered in spray foam. But give it two weeks, and the finished product will be much more detailed and standing about 17 feet tall.

"Gravity" started as a drawing that Mr. Kugler did in his sketchbook 10 years ago. It was about three years ago that he decided to turn the angelic figure into an actual sculpture. And not only is he doing this because he loves it, he is also trying to bring more attention to the art scene in the Quad Cities.

"I'd like to see us have more of an arts mindset to how we approach things. The one thing I've been talking to people about is trying to use the arts to drive tourism to the Quad-Cities."

Originally, "Gravity" was intended to sit on top of a building Mr. Kugler owns as a gargoyle or guardian for his business. He said the "Batman" film with Michael Keaton served as the initial inspiration for the sculpture.

"Gotham (City) has these huge sculptures, and so eventually I liked the idea of doing something like that," he said.

Mr. Kugler plans to enter this sculpture in the Artprize competition in Grand Rapid, Mich., which starts in late September. He said that Artprize is one of the largest art shows in the world, with more than 1,500 artists participating. He entered last year with ballerina sculpture, "Blind Grace", but this year he said he got into one of the larger venues with a much more visible location.

"I had a good venue, but they stuck me in the back of the building because they didn't know my work that well," he said. "So this year I was like, 'I'm not going to do it unless I get a killer location", and I did."

Though Mr. Kugler co-owns Atom Studio + Gallery within Bucktown Center for the Arts, where much of his art is displayed, he also co-owns Red Box Design Inc. So this project requires him to take two weeks off from an already busy schedule. But if "Gravity" can bring more awareness to the Quad Cities art scene, then he feels it is well worth it.

"We don't inspire people to come here with relation to the arts. People go to Chicago or even Iowa City before they come to the Quad-Cities," he said. "We just assume that we should go somewhere else to look at something that's unique and the arts, and so I think part of that process is using local artists and thinking bigger."


Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.

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