Exhibit: Saturday, October 19, through Sunday, February 2
Artist Talk: Thursday, October 24, 6:30 p.m.
Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second Street, Davenport IA
A favorite exhibit among Quad Citians makes its eagerly anticipated return to Davenport's Figge Art Museum October 19 through February 2, with artist Rose Frantzen's multi-dimensional installation Portrait of Maquoketa boasting 180 portraits of Maquoketans and a 315-square-foot landscape view of the city, and newly accompanied by illustrations from Chuck Morris' 2019 children's book The Storytelling Tree.
From July 2005 to July 2006, Frantzen democratized portraiture, inviting anyone in her hometown of Maquoketa, Iowa, to sit for a portrait painted from life. All 180 oil painting portraits that Frantzen created were displayed at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery from November of 2009 through July of 2010. The portraits were accompanied by a narrative sound composition created by Frantzen's brother John, featuring the voices of those who posed speaking about their lives and about Maquoketa. The 12-by-12, head-and-shoulders portraits were each painted in a four or five hour sitting in a storefront on Main St. that was open to the public. “I wanted to bring to my community a tangible connection with the creative process,” said Frantzen. “By making them the subject, I hoped that their interest would be stirred and that they would be touched somehow by what painting can reveal about the human experience.”
With her subjects ranging in age from four days to 99 years old, Frantzen captured a beautiful and moving cross-section portrait of her town, and her landscape view of Maquoketa is painted on 34 vertical panels suspended from the ceiling. The panels are arranged in such a way that when a visitor sits at one end of the installation, all of the panels come together and align as one unified view of Maquoketa as seen from the hills outside of town. The other sides of the landscape panels display all 180 portraits.
Frantzen’s Portrait of Maquoketa will be on view in the Figge’s third-floor gallery, and for this showing, the installation will be joined by a suite of illustrations for the new children’s book The Storytelling Tree by Frantzen's partner, artist Chuck Morris. Just as Portrait of Maquoketa reminds us of the importance of connecting family with community, The Storytelling Tree tells the story of a young girl’s special bond with her father, the owner of a small bookstore and writer of magical stories, through the power of words. Through his enchanting story and playfully surreal imagery, Morris reminds us of the boundless worlds we can experience through reading, and a special, limited-run first edition of the book will be available through the Figge’s museum store.
An artist talk with Rose Frantzen and Chuck Morris discussing the process and development of The Storytelling Tree will take place on October 24 at 6:30 p.m., and Rose Frantzen: Portrait of Maquoketa & the Storytelling Tree be on display October 19 through February 2 Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, museum admission is $4-10, and more information is available by calling (563)326-7804 or visiting FiggeArtMuseum.org.