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Quad City Arts presents "Art on Lockdown" exhibition by local and regional artists

Quad City Arts presents "Art on Lockdown" exhibition by local and regional artists

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Most of Lisa Mahar's work is bright and happy. She utilizes found objects to combine painting and collages, often bringing fantasy scenes to life. 

A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, however, she had some other feelings she needed to express. Instead of colorful tiles and elaborate designs, the painting hanging in the Quad City Arts Gallery is a muted self-portrait, with demons representing everything building inside Mahar coming out her wide-open mouth.

"This painting was so healing. For me, it was healing, because this is how I was feeling when I painted it. Exactly like that..." Mahar said. "And I don't know if it was anger, but it was frustration at what was going on, and realizing that the world was never going to be the same."

Mahar's piece is displayed as part of Quad City Arts' "Art on Lockdown" exhibition, housed in Quad City Arts Gallery at 1715 Second Ave., Rock Island. The exhibition will be on display, with pieces for sale, through Dec. 3. 

"Art on Lockdown" began as an effort to keep artists creating and provide a creative outlet when many people weren't able to go about their daily lives. Quad City Arts presented it as a no-fee competition to win a spot or spots in the gallery exhibition. 

They received 187 entries and chose 80 works by 67 artists in the region to be displayed. Pieces housed in the gallery are of all different mediums and themes. The only connector is that they were all made during the first year of the pandemic. 

Quad City Arts Visual Arts Director Dawn Wohlford-Metallo said some artists featured in the exhibition hadn't worked with the organization before, and for some this is their first gallery showing, which she's excited about. 

"We want to be as open and inclusive as we can be, so we're always looking for new artists," Wohlford-Metallo said. 

"Art on Lockdown" is the first exhibition Abigail Kongkousonh entered independently, which she said was a little nerve-wracking.

She just graduated with an associate's degree in visual communication from Black Hawk College, and in fall 2020 took a life drawing course. She found that she really enjoyed drawing portraits and hands, portraiture quickly becoming one of her favorite art styles.

One of the works she made in the class, a ballpoint-and-sharpie ink portrait called "The World is Quiet Here," was chosen to show in the gallery. The picture depicts a person in a mask, with a looming shadow behind them. 

Mahar said Quad City Arts did the ideal thing in creating an exhibition that would give artists the chance to show how they expressed themselves during extremely difficult times, and to make it accessible to everyone. There's a huge variety of artists in the show, she said. 

Being chosen was inspiring and humbling for the 20-year-old Kongkousonh. She has made a lot of art during the pandemic, and said she wants to show it to the world. 

"I'm really proud," Kongkousonh said, "to be a part of such a diverse exhibition." 


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