The “Sunday in the Park” sculptures – a feature on Davenport’s Credit Island for more than 20 years – have a new home in the Village of East Davenport.
The sculptures were moved to Lower Lindsay Park on Wednesday, July 27, as part of a joint venture between River Action and the Davenport Park and Recreation Department. The relocated and repaired statues are now near the John Bloom “Waiting for the Ferry” statue and the Architectural Park next to the Mississippi River. They were formally introduced to the public during a news conference on Friday, July 29.
“This is a great site. … It creates an arts stop for arts lovers,” said Kathy Wine, executive director of River Action.
She added that the relocated statues now create an art walk along the river that could help bring more people to the park and the community.
“This kind of investment in art will create more investment in the community,” Ms. Wine said.
In addition to creating an art attraction on the east side of Davenport, the “Sunday in the Park” move was also made to help save the sculptures. They had been repeatedly been hit by bad weather, floodwaters and especially vandals since they were first placed on Credit Island in 2000.
“The vandalism was really a top issue that needed to be addressed,” said Wendy Peterson, Davenport Park Advisory Board chair, during Friday’s news conference.
The vandals’ damage to the 14 sculptures was severe. Some of it included a head broken off and stolen from one sculpture, and portions of other sculptures stolen and/or broken.
Jean Downey, an artist and retired art teacher in Davenport, said she had spent months making repairs to the sculptures after the vandalism attacks over the years.
“It’s just very exciting (to see the sculptures here.) … There has been a positive response from people seeing them in the park,” Ms. Downey said.
Ms. Peterson added that city officials hope that Lower Lindsay Park will be a more secure site and eliminate the vandalism problem.
The new site will also likely eliminate possible future damage from floodwaters, Ms. Wine said.
However, it has not been decided if the sculptures will be on public display all year and in all weather. Ms. Wine added that it’s possible they might remain in the park throughout the year, but that might change and the sculptures could be put in storage during the cold weather months.
During and after the news conference, several park users had the chance to look over the sculptures that combine traditional scenery of a classic work of art with a few modern touches. For instance, one of the sculptures is holding a modern fishing pole.
“This is really so cool,” said one bicyclist who stopped as she was pedaling through the park.
The “Sunday in the Park” sculptures were inspired by the Georges Seurat painting “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Artist Ted McElhiney designed and oversaw the sculpture project. Thom Gleich carved the sculptures and art students from Davenport Central High School and Augustana College helped maintain them. And Ms. Downey has restored the sculptures.
The “Sunday in the Park” display is one of 10 RiverWay Art Projects in the region. Those art projects help create a “shared sense of pride” and “enhances the places we call home,” according to information from RiverAction.
Other RiverWay Arts projects in the area include:
- Architectural Park, Lower Lindsay Park, Davenport
- Navigation Steps, Leach Park, Bettendorf
- East Moline Rapids, The Quarter, East Moline
- Mississippi Tree of Life, Sunset Park, Rock Island
- Peach Garden, Campbell’s Island.
- The Gathering Point, Arsenal Island
- Nature Spiral, Illiniwek Park, Hampton
- Sylvan Island Foundation, Sylvan Island, Moline
- Stepping Stones, Donnybrook Creek, Rapids City.