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Paul Algueseva III has worked for more than two decades as a sculptor, creating three-dimensional works in bronze, ceramics and fiberglass resin gypsum.

But today, he's a painter.

The Washington, Iowa, artist is putting a coat of lemon white onto the walls of his 2,000-square-foot studio, dubbed Eclectic Eye Arts & Sculpture Design, at Bucktown Center for the Arts, Davenport.

Bucktown, which will open its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday night, is an urban renovation project of MidCoast Fine Arts, and sets up the eastern boundary of an arts district that stretches to the Figge Art Museum, which will open next month.

"It's a great feeling starting out in a space like this, especially with MidCoast and all their energy," Algueseva said, as he took a break from painting. "There's a sense in the community that the art community is developing. MidCoast adds a big feature to that."

Algueseva had outgrown his home studio in Washington that he had opened only two years ago, and was approached by MidCoast executive director Dean Schroeder about moving his work the 70-mile distance.

"He said, ‘Wouldn't it be good if you were more in the public eye?' It's not a high-profile situation working in Washington, Iowa," Algueseva said. "People get to know some of your work, appreciate some of your work. Your name and your work gets circulated more. MidCoast knows how to circulate the artist and appreciate the artist."

Algueseva is one of dozens of artists who will get a boost from Bucktown. The first two floors of the four-story structure are on schedule, Schroeder said, for the opening on Friday night. The third floor, mostly offices, should be completed by mid-August, followed by the loft-style living condos on the top floor.

For Schroeder, a longtime arts advocate, being able to open Bucktown is a dream come true.

"We've been thinking of getting involved, in terms of participating in the urban renovation process more directly, for probably seven or eight years," he said. "This is really the culmination of that dream."

MidCoast received a grant three years ago from the Riverboat Development Authority to research studio-gallery models throughout the Midwest, with road trips made to Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Omaha.

Artists pay anywhere from $150 to $500 a month for their space. A stipend is given from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for spaces that have public hours, as most of the spaces will have — generally from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Schroeder said that the Bucktown building — which has a wild and rich history, but was last used as a furniture warehouse — has kept its industrial charm, with brick walls and open ceilings remaining. Tenants have the choice to paint the walls whatever color they wish.

"We didn't run into as many problems rehabbing the structure as we might have originally been perceived," he said. "It's been relatively smooth."

The individual spaces for the artists can be used for any combination of studio, gallery and retail space, Schroeder said. Several jewelry makers have spaces that will focus on the retail side.

"We hope it's not only a center for people to come and see the arts, but also shopping," he said. "There's a lot of opportunity for that kind of interaction, so we're also marketing it as a shopping experience."

Bucktown will also be the new home for the Midwest Writing Center, moving from its location in The District of Rock Island. It will also eventually house a deli and/or coffee shop.

Even though MidCoast is the driving force behind the Bucktown project, not all of the artists in place belong to the organization.

"It's bringing in a new breed of participants into the process," Schroeder said. "We wanted to bring in new blood, outside blood."

There are also a variety of mediums represented, from jewelry to painting to sculpture. Schroeder said art patrons want to get the feel of an artist's studio to better appreciate their work.

"People want to see that kind of energy, artists at work, artists helping share the kind of cultural energy that's represented in the community," he said. "There's a great deal of arts diversity in this community, and this'll be a great way to help showcase them."

David Burke can be contacted at (563) 383-2400 or dburke@qctimes.com.

IF YOU GO

What: Grand Opening Bash

When: 6-10 p.m. Friday

Where: Bucktown Center

For the Arts, 225 E. 2nd St., Davenport

How much: Free

Information: (309) 786-2430

MEET THE RESIDENTS

Here are the initial tenants of Bucktown Center for the Arts, 225 E. 2nd St., Davenport, including its suite location, operators and, where available, Web site addresses:

n 3 Goddesses Gallery, Suite 105, with items and supplies for the body and spirit as well as eclectic art, operated by Jennifer Moody.  www.3goddesses.biz.

n Angel FX Studio, Suite 201A, operated by Trish DeHeer and Bob Cunningham, featuring acrylic and oil on canvas, and texture paint on pottery. www.angelfx.com.

n Bernadette's Vision Gallery & Studio, Suite 202B, with charcoal and pastel works by Betty Gusta.

n doeGallery, Suite 201B, a collective of paintings, drawings, photography, printmaking, digital collages and other mediums by Jackie Olson, Emily Christenson, Helen Boyd and Maria Alvarado.

n Eclectic Eye Arts & Sculpture Design, Suite 102, by artist Paul Algueseva III. www.geocities.com/paulomino.

n Imagine That! Gallery, Suite 202A, by artists Teresa Mesich, Kunhild Blalock and Jeanne O'Melia.

n L. Marie

Creations, Suite 107, jewelry design by Lori Boutott.

n Morning Glory Studio, Suite 202C, with oil, watercolor, figure drawings, illustrations and graphic designs by Ting and Cheryl Phoun.

n Small Wonders Photography, Suite 200, with black-and-white work by photographer Quinn Kirkpatrick.

n Suite One-O-One Studio, Suite 101, with acrylics, pastel, photography, computer graphics and mixed media by Toni Nykoluk-Resch and Steve Burgess.

n Three Gypsies Studio, Suite 100, with silverwork, jewelry, clothing accessories and glasswork by Desiree Border.

n The Wearhouse, Suite 204, with "adornments for home and body" by Donna Lee Nelson. www.artfx1.com.

n Worldly Views, Suite 203, photography by Jack Wilhoit.

— David Burke

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