I jokingly said to a local arts leader the other day that if I hear the word "cello" again, it'll be too soon.

Between the performance earlier this month by cellist Yo-Yo Ma with the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra and the QCSO's "100 Years, 100 Cellos" fundraiser — which was scheduled to conclude Friday night with an auction at the Figge Art Museum in downtown Davenport — there's a sneaking suspicion that — in jest — I'm not alone.

Because whether or not it reaches its financial goal, it's tough not to look upon the "100 Cellos" project as a success.

There are two glowing reasons for that assessment: Creativity and collaboration.

Whether it was looking at one-dimensional photos while compiling the many "100 Cellos" entries we published in the Quad-City Times this month or seeing the decorated instruments in person, the creativity shone through.

Some bright, some beautiful and some baffling, the cellos are a unique collection of the work by some of the Quad-City area's finest artists.

But that wasn't all. I expected the artists I referred to as "the usual suspects" while interviewing Volunteers For Symphony members a few weeks ago to represent the area arts community well. But I didn't think so many others would make just as good of a showing.

The project opened up attention to other visual artists in the area, those who might not have had an exhibit nor developed a local reputation.

And it highlighted the creativity that takes place in area schools, with many art teachers leading their students in efforts that emphasized the collaboration between all of them.

That collaboration on the grownups' level is to be commended as well.

For years, I've rallied in this space about the need for arts groups to work together, step out of their comfort zone and take some chances. There are ebbs and flows in that plan, but the cello project showed it at high tide.

The collaboration between the QCSO and the artists — and the Figge — put everyone together for a common goal, and thinking and working together.

It also was a reminder of how the performing and visual arts work together. Several artists talked about playing Ma's or others' cello music while painting their cellos or trying to come up with ideas.

The project set a new benchmark for creativity and collaboration, and everyone involved should be commended.

'Nightlight' on

Unfortunately, it didn't get screened at a theater in the Quad-Cities, but the first major movie release by Bettendorf natives Scott Beck and Bryan Woods did make it to home video this week.

"Nightlight" is available on DVD, which includes a digital download. It's also available for streaming from services such as Amazon.

The Beck-Woods directing duo's next project, according to online information, is "XOXO," a thriller about an engaged man whose relationship with a woman he meets on Facebook turns dark and deadly. It's written by Mark Heyman, who also wrote the scripts for "Black Swan," "The Wrestler" and "The Skeleton Twins."

What about Bob?

The retirement of Bob Schieffer from CBS' "Face the Nation," noted elsewhere in these pages, is my last chance to share the story about one of my first brushes with fame.

It was November 1987 and I was covering the announcement of his presidential candidacy by U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., in his hometown of Russell, about a half-hour from my college. (Imagine waiting only a year before the general election to make an announcement!)

Members of the media were given lanyards and PRESS cards, but the cards didn't have a hole through which to connect the two. As a local pastor gave the invocation, I could see peripherally that the man next to me was having trouble finding something to poke a hole in his card.

I quietly handed him my pen, and he signed "Best wishes, Bob Schieffer, CBS News" on my notebook.

I didn't have time to tell him I wasn't seeking an autograph, but I got one anyway. I just don't know where it is today.

David Burke can be contacted at dburke@qctimes.com. Follow him on Twitter, @entguy1.

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