Posted Online: May 10, 2013, 9:49 pm

Gallery Hop fills Friday night with art, entertainment

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By Kevin Smith, ksmith@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
The annual Gallery Hop! took place Friday, May 10, 2013, in downtown Rock Island. Hundreds of local and regional artists were featured. At the Desoto Arts Center, Yolanda Crez watches woodturner Joe Meirhaeghe of Orion work on a piece during the event. The hard maple wood came from a tree that was just cut Monday in Bettendorf.
Art-lovers met with local talent at the twice-yearly Gallery Hop walking tour in downtown Rock Island Friday night.

Twenty-five shops, galleries, restaurants and entertainment venues in The District of Rock Island showcased the work of more than 200 artists for the event. Presented by The District and MidCoast Fine Arts, the night included music, demonstrations and food.

Supporters of local artists, Bev and Chuck Wilt, of Rock Island, said they enjoy shopping for the Gallery Hop for unique gifts for friends and, sometimes, themselves. Mrs. Wilt said their purchases were even more meaningful because they can meet and connectwith the artists.

"It's just a nice night to be out," she said.

Businesses from throughout The District contributed to the event in various ways. Some restaurants offered entertainment, others special menu items, Mrs. Wilt said."Their artwork is their food," she added.

The couple said they were impressed with the creativity of pieces crafted from repurposed material, but their favorite stop was the Quad-Cities Woodturners' display at DeSoto Arts Center,2324 3rd Ave.

Donna Nagel, of Davenport, a 10-year member of the wood-turners' group, said she saw a lot of people go out of their way during Gallery Hop to see the group's variety of carefully-crafted bowls, vases and ornaments.

Many ask about techniques and wood selection, she said, while perusing the displays and watching demonstrations. The woodturners have even signed up new members at past Gallery Hops, she added.

"We try to get the community involved in (wood-turning)," she said.

Local artists and downtown Rock Island business owners benefit from the Gallery Hop, said Carolyn Krueger, owner of the ARTery. The event creates foot traffic and provides exposure for new artists, she said.

"It brings new people into the businesses," Ms. Kruegar said. "It's a big event."

Cisco Brown, of Davenport, showed off his charcoal drawings for the first time outside of Steve's Old Time Tap. He said he recently returned to his passion for drawing after being laid off.

"I didn't realize how unhappy I was until I started drawing again," he said.

Mr. Brown said he previously had shared his pieces with friends on Facebook, but his work was well-received by local aesthetes Friday night. Mr. Brown said he sold his first print within the event's first hour.

Gallery Hop also showcased several well-established artists, such as Alexander Iaccarino, of Davenport, who designs limited-edition poster art for video games and movies. Sometimes known as "That Kid Who Draws," Mr. Iaccarino said he has participated in the event for about six years.

"The Gallery Hop is beneficial to connect with other artists and maintain a presence in the local arts," he said.