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."


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