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One defining feature of the Current Iowa's artwork is that the 500-plus pieces are "not cookie-cutter art," said Amy Gill, CEO of Restoration St. Louis. 

"Everything is made by someone," she said. "It's all unique." 

Each hotel room will showcase artwork, and some pieces are straightforward while others, as Gill says, “are a little edgy and weird.”

That’s the case for one prominently-featured St. Louis-based artist: Steve Jones, who teaches middle-school art, creates ceramic sculptures of dogs, monkeys and horses with “human emotions and features,” such as porcelain teeth, wooden legs and glass eyes.

Big Story: Introducing the Current Iowa

“They’re cute from afar and kind of raw when you get up close,” Jones said.

Jones was surprised when the Gills bought 110 handmade pieces, each requiring eight hours of work, to display in their hotel rooms.

Also in the rooms are for-sale pieces made by Hot Glass, a not-for-profit located in downtown Davenport. 

The Gills visited the Hot Glass studio last year to meet with its executive director and lead artist, Joel Ryser. The couple then commissioned 110 pieces to be made by him and by at-risk students and veterans who takes classes at Hot Glass.

Ryser’s reaction?

“Wow, that’s a lot to get done,” he said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to be more visible in the community.”

The Gills also hired Ryser to design and create a large glass installation, which has the look of water, that’s hanging from the ceiling in the lobby. It’s called “The River.”

“It’s a great concept and opportunity for Midwest artists,” Ryser said. “It’s not every day you get to make a big installation that so many people will see. We’re lucky if somebody wants to buy a vase or a glass pumpkin.”

Being featured in a hotel is not an everyday thing for Nancy Purington, who grew up north of Davenport. The Gills bought 130 prints from her photography collection, called “Twelve Views of Water,” depicting the Mississippi River.

“As an artist, I’ve always been critical of hotel art,” Purington aid. “It’s generic. I think a lot of people see a picture on the wall and go to bed and don’t think about it.”

The artwork in The Current, Purington has learned, is anything but generic. She counts being featured in the hotel as an “absolute miracle,” adding, “This is a cultural treasure, especially when you’re featuring artists from the community and the region. I feel pure joy to be a part of it.”

Additionally, the tequila tasting room will serve as an exhibit space where art will be regularly rotated, beginning in August with a collection of black-and-white photographs titled “They May Have Been Heroes: The Homeless Veterans Project” by Jerry Tovo, of St. Louis.

"We have art that makes you feel something," Amy Gill said. "I think that's what art is about."


Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).