Sculpture, yoga, meditation create an oasis of calm at Figge

Innovative Sculpture opens Saturday

Figge Art Museum
The Figge Art Museum in Davenport is among six tourism entities statewide to receive a share of $250,000 in grants from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). CREDIT JOHN SCHULTZ

The Figge Art Museum’s Sculpture Garden – which marries large works of art with the tranquility of meditation and benefits of yoga – opens Saturday, April 13, at the Davenport riverfront museum.

Figge Art Museum yoga meditation
CREDIT Julius Schmidt (American, 1923-2017), Stainless Steel Sculpture, 1971, stainless steel, City of Davenport Art Collection, Friends of Art Acquisition Fund, 197.4 © 1971 Julius Schmidt.

The exhibit located in Figge’s second-floor Katz Gallery was designed to invite visitors to immerse themselves in contemplation, mindfulness and relaxation surrounded by a peaceful garden of sculpture. 

The exhibit, for which the Quad Cities Regional Business Journal is the media sponsor, runs through Sunday, June 23. The QCBJ previously served as media sponsor for last year’s Ansel Adams exhibit.

In the runup to Saturday’s opening, the Katz Gallery was transformed “into an oasis within the museum, providing a space for contemplation, mindfulness, and relaxation within a peaceful garden of sculpture,” the Figge said in a news release.

The exhibition at 225 West Second St., Davenport, features a selection of large works from Figge’s permanent collection. They include sculptures by well-known artists Marily Davidson, George Rickey, Gene Horvath and Julius Schmidt. 

Those works will be accompanied by traditional art historical interpretation, the museum said. Attendees will find mindfulness prompts and activities generated by Iowa City artist and Art Therapist Dana Keeton, and Becky Nakashima Brooke. She’s a local yoga instructor. Reiki Master, sound healer and Thai Bodywork practitioner. 

Meditation encouraged

Ms. Keeton and Ms. Brooke will also create a meditative space in the center of the gallery. It will feature floor cushions and soothing music. Visitors are encouraged to contemplate the surrounding sculptures and see them through new perspectives. 

Those new perspectives will be encouraged by the curated activities in the exhibition. They include communal journaling, yoga instruction and meditation prompts, the Figge said.

Leading the effort is Ms. Keeton. The artist and art psychotherapist is in private practice in Iowa City. Her work with clients is centered on an integrative mind-body approach rooted in trauma-informed art psychotherapy. 

In addition to clinical work, Ms. Keeton provides art therapy informed workshops in museum settings. As an artist, she is interested in exploring new ways to create with both tactile and lens-based media, the release said.  

She is trained as a photographer. And her current work focuses on collaborative multimedia projects. They investigate themes connected to nature, the environment, and the innate human need for calming and soothing amidst the natural cycles of change. 

Ms. Brooke has a diverse background that includes end-of-life doula, Reiki master, yoga instructor, Thai bodyworker, sound healer, and qigong teacher. She uses her knowledge of qigong and sound healing to guide meditation, the release said. Through her guidance, individuals can experience profound relaxation and harmonization of the body, mind, and spirit, the release said.

Pioneering work on view

The sculpture artists on display in the Katz Gallery “garden” include Mr. Schmidt. His pioneering metal work earned him the unofficial title “grandfather of cast iron sculpture.” The late artist gained international recognition in 1963. His works appear in more than 30 museums including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art.

Mr. Rickey, who died on July 17, 2002, was an American kinetic sculptor. Such works contain movement that can be seen by the viewer or depends on motion for its effects.

The late Illinois artist Gene Horvath’s bronze and steel sculptures already are on display in Illinois and in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois. At the time of his death on April 14, 1995, the Rockford Art Museum said “his portfolio included sculptures grounded in locations from Rockford to Rock Island, and from Dallas to Chandler, Ariz.”

Ms. Davidson is internationally known for her works in sculpture and design for the home. She has been exhibited in New York, Germany, England, Yugoslavia, Australia, and Mexico and featured in Design Magazine, The New York Art Review, and Arts Magazine.

Tickets for the Sculpture Garden exhibit are available to purchase here.

Additional free Figge companion programing includes:

  • Sunday, May 5, noon-3 p.m. Museum admission is free all day and sponsored MidAmerican Energy.
  • Saturday, May 11  –  Second Saturday: Sculpture Garden. Free event with free museum admission all day. It’s made possible by Art Bridges Foundation’s Access for All program. Check for a full list of activities. 

Sculpture Sundays, April 14, 28 and May 5, 12 – Free event with free museum admission all day. Free activities are available from 1-3 p.m. Sculpture Sundays are made possible by Art Bridges.

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