Art patrons browsed through colorful paintings and prints while they spoke with the artists themselves Sunday afternoon in Davenport.

The Art Project, QCA, observed its first anniversary at The Center, 1411 Brady St., Davenport, with artists on hand to display their art and discuss it with visitors. Among the artists was Steve Braudt, a provisional elder at St. John’s United Methodist Church, who brought the project to The Center after hearing about a similar program at a Texas church.

The project provides opportunities for homeless men, women and youth to encounter art through activities, concerts, field trips, films and exhibitions created by peers at The Center, Braudt said. He is a seminary student who serves as interim youth director at St. John’s and is the husband of Anne Lippincott, the church’s senior pastor.

The Art Project is "a place for spiritual health and self-empowerment," Braudt  said.

The ultimate goal of the program, Braudt said, is to provide homeless and at-risk artists an opportunity to make their own trade by creating, displaying and selling their art as a collective body through art exhibits.

As part of his seminary work, Braudt, who earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, wanted to create a program similar to one at coincidentally named St. John’s United Methodist Church in Houston.

His own liturgical art, which reflects his beliefs in words and symbols, is vivid, spiritual and eye-catching. Visitors lined up to buy his cards, which have prints of his artwork.

“I’ve watched these artworks of Steve’s progress,” said Marti Puls, of LeClaire, a member of the local St. John’s congregation who says that through Braudt’s art, “You can sense the spirit of God moving through him.”

“He does a picture every service,” said Jennifer Wader, a St. John’s member and volunteer at The Center. “He sits in the front pew and actually draws a picture.”

Among the other artists with work in the exhibit was Christopher Chenoweth. “I think (the event) has been great,” he said.

Chenoweth said he’s pretty much self-taught, although he did attend Des Moines Area Community College for about a year.

“It’s great to have a spiritual family, and yet you can relate to them through the art,” said Chenoweth, who currently lives at the King’s Harvest Ministries shelter in Davenport. He said he had a job lined up, but it fell through. Because of some medical concerns, there are “a lot of jobs I can’t do anymore,” he said.

He describes his artwork as “kind of like (surrealist) Salvador Dali with a touch of (abstract Russian painter) Wassily Kandinsky, with naturalistic values of my own.”

Braudt said The Center helped Chenoweth with art supplies and provided him a few emergency needs.

In his artist statement, Chenoweth said his surreal art "brings people to mind their own and others' emotions, yet remember to care or when they used to care."

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