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Beaux Arts Fair
Shoppers browse Tom Nedobeck's stained glass windows as they walk the annual Spring Beaux Arts Fair along 2nd Street May 9, 2009 in Davenport. (John Schultz / Quad-City Times) John Schultz

The 56th Beaux Art Fair concludes Sunday in downtown Davenport in front of the Figge Art Museum and on 2nd Street between Harrison and Ripley streets.

Artists from nine states have converged to offer a wide variety of items, including stained glass, acrylics, textiles, jewelry, weaving, wood and metal art.

The processes to create these works of art are complicated and sometimes quite unusual.

Scot Schmidt of Oshkosh, Wis., previously worked in the paper industry, where he was introduced to a particular limestone-based mixture. “It was designed as a filler in the paper-making process,” he said.

Schmidt saw a more artistic value for the limestone, however. To create his unique sculptures, he begins by pouring the mixture into a form. Within a half minute, it is dry and ready to be hand carved with whatever tool Schmidt decides to use for the current project, from dental tools to a nail or even “spoons with an edge on it.”

Hand painting is followed by the use of an iridescent wash to enhance colors under direct light. Mounting and framing complete the work.  

Sally Rasmussen of Clear Lake, Iowa, works in a much softer medium: painting on silk. Her process begins with stretching silk on a frame and drawing an outline of flowers, animals or an abstract design with a special paint called “resist,” which acts as a barrier so that dyes will not spread.

After dyes are applied and dried, the scarf or wall hanging is prepared for steaming. Rinsing, drying, and a cool iron finish the process. “Anyone who wants to do that much work can do it,” said Rasmussen.

Photographs of landscapes, birds and wild animals are the specialty of Keith and Wanda Davenport of Blue Springs, Mo. The close-ups of deer, puffins, buffalo and bears are the result of many trips to Alaska, Utah, Wyoming and “anyplace there’s a critter or landscape,” said Keith Davenport.

“In Alaska, we just need the cabin, guide and bush plane,” he said. Their process changed from film to digital photography in 2004, and it’s not unusual to take hundreds of photos but only choose a few.

“It has to catch our heart to make it into the booth,” he said, pointing out a photo of a grizzly bear whose eyes acknowledge the photographer.

Quad-City buildings painted in watercolors are the specialty of local artist Tom Hempel. Commissions are taken, but some paintings are inspired by coincidence. “Not that I’m looking for something, but it finds me,” he said.

His process begins with a photo of the building. Working in his studio, Hempel then takes about a week to complete an average-size painting.

“I’ve done over 1,000 paintings in 35 years,” said Hempel, who serves as the vice president of the Beaux Arts committee.

Artist Web sites can be found at the fair Web site at