Profiles of Impact -- Stimulating economic growth through art

Isabel Bloom at work in her studio
The Quad-City arts and culture community gives residents the opportunity to view magnificent art exhibitions, participate in educational programs and allows community leaders to market the area as a tourist destination. The arts, in all forms, have impacted our community by stimulating economic growth and bringing 
enjoyment to patrons.

Isabel Bloom L.L.C. is one of many organizations that have supported our local arts scene. Isabel Bloom was a visual artist who began her sculpting work in Davenport in the 1930's, and expanded her independent work into a company that now sells artwork across the country. For more than 50 years, Isabel warmed the hearts and brightened the homes, gardens and offices of art lovers and collectors. Isabel passed away in May 2001, and as part of remembering her legacy, Donna Young, Isabel's protege and artistic collaborator, sculpted a grasshopper as a tribute to her life.

"Shortly before her passing, I went to visit Isabel at her home. We were outside and a grasshopper landed on her hand," said Young. "She let the grasshopper be until it was ready to move. That was Isabel; she saw beauty in ordinary things."

Proceeds raised from sales of the grasshopper sculpture were dedicated to the Isabel Bloom Art Education Fund at the Community Foundation. The purpose of the fund is to "enhance visual arts education in the primary and secondary schools of Scott County, Iowa and Rock Island County, Ill." Since its creation, the fund has awarded nearly $40,000 to 20 different projects. Last year, grants were awarded to J.B. Young Elementary School ($2,000), Jordan Catholic School ($1,625), McKinley Elementary School ($2,000) and Seton Catholic School ($2,000).

Students from McKinley's Stepping Stones after school program worked under the direction of artists in residence, David Houk and Stacey Houk, to create a mixed media mural. The concept of the mural is "History of McClellan Heights" and it depicts the history and development of the neighborhood surrounding the school. Over a nine month span, students in kindergarten through fifth grade were directly involved in developing ideas, planning and implementing the project.

Kay Hall, Creative Arts Curriculum and Instruction Specialist for Davenport Community School District, said, "Through this project our students demonstrated knowledge of their neighborhood's past, as well as its present. They learned the concepts of change and consistency, and used their artistic skills and creativity to design a work of public art." Hall also noted, "This project is a fitting tribute to McKinley's presence in the neighborhood for the past 70 years."

Permanent signage and resource materials are being developed for present and future students to learn about their neighborhood from the mural in the school's grand staircase. Grants from the Isabel Bloom Art Education Fund will further the education of local children and art instructors, foster greater appreciation of the visual arts and help enhance the quality of life in the Quad Cities.

Click here to apply for a grant from the Isabel Bloom Art Education Fund.

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