In the Quad Cities, you can get out and enjoy public art and find priceless hand-blown glass pieces, all for free.

At a joint news conference Thursday, Visit Quad Cities, Quad City Arts and Hot Glass announced the launch of an online-based QC Public Art Trail and QC Glass Hunt.

The first uses a mobile-based platform to create a year-round trail that features temporary and permanent sculptures, murals, and galleries where you can purchase art in the QC.

The home page for the public art trail is based on the Visit Quad Cities website.

The trail aims to introduce Quad Citizens and visitors to the wide array of public art projects that are essential to the QC experience. The trail also will be a repository for a complete list of public art in the area.

This is an ongoing project; locations will be updated and added throughout the year. Additionally, the trail links to the River Music Experience One Sound Project website, where you can follow their trail to beautifully-painted pianos by local artists. Each piano is functional, and you are welcome to tickle the ivories.

“Public art and activating it within the region to amplify our distinct characteristics and values is a strategic driver for Visit Quad Cities,” said Dave Herrell, president/CEO of Visit Quad Cities. “The Public Art Trail is another opportunity to create tourism product in our regional destination and showcase our creativity.”

Visit Quad Cities CEO Dave Herrell speaks at the press conference Sept. 1, 2022 (photo by Jonathan Turner)

“We’ve got an exciting opportunity here to think about our destination, of our tourism products, of things we’re trying to do to make our destination a vibrant and creative place,” he said.

Joel Ryser, owner of Hot Glass, Inc. in Davenport, speaks at the Quad City Arts Gallery, Rock Island, on Sept. 1, 2022 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Mobile phone-based trail

You can sign up for the QC Public Art Trail for free at qcarttrail.com. Once registered, the trail will be instantly delivered to your smartphone via text and email and ready to use immediately from your mobile device. You can also save the trail to your phone’s home screen for easy one-tap access. There is no app to download.

As you visit various locations on the trail, you will gain access to specific check-in codes associated with the sculpture, mural, or gallery you are visiting. You must be at the location for the code to be revealed on your QC Public Art Trail platform.

You then enter the code on your phone. It will automatically record the check-in and be saved in a database specific to your account. Those individuals with the most check-ins will be entered into a random drawing for a $500 Visa Gift Card to be given away on Sept. 1, 2023. There is no time limit to complete the trail.

Visit Quad Cities used the same technology-based platform for the QC Family Pass and QC Coffee Trail.

Kevin Maynard, executive director of Quad City Arts (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“The Quad Cities is filled with public art and there is more being added all the time,” said Kevin Maynard, executive director of Quad City Arts. “The QC Public Art Trail helps celebrate the incredible works of art that can be found in our community and gives everyone a starting point to truly experiencing what the QC has to offer. Quad City Arts is excited to continue to showcase the arts in the QC.”

There are over 90 locations you can visit, including places you can purchase art, such as Quad City Arts Gallery (1715 2nd Ave., Rock Island), and Hot Glass (104 Western Ave., Davenport).

“There’s reason to visit the trail often, as our collection keeps growing,” Maynard said. “You will see some of these sculptures are marked as temporary, because they are on loan and will be rotated out.”

Public art helps “create civic pride and a sense of place, and draws visitors to businesses and so much more,” he said. So having one place to access the information is essential, Maynard said.

“I also think it’s really exciting that we’re going to be launching we’re launching the QC Glass Hunt,” he said. “We want people to interact with the sculptures in our community and give everyone an opportunity either start or grow their art collection.”

Look for treasured glass

Joel Ryser, owner of Hot Glass, was inspired by a CBS Sunday Morning segment on a similar hunt on Block Island, R.I. He called Hot Glass board member Charlotte Doehler-Morrison (who’s Visit Quad Cities’ vice president for marketing and communications) and suggested a QC one to her.

“That’s the same way I started Hot Glass, by seeing something where kids were involved and veterans were involved,” Ryser said Thursday. “Through the help of our community, we were able to start Hot Glass. We’re very fortunate.”

Joel Ryser is owner of Hot Glass, Inc., which is at 104 Western Ave., Davenport (photo by Jonathan Turner).

The glass hunt is at 10 parks in Bettendorf, Davenport, Moline and Rock Island. People have already found 74 of the 250 round glass floats.

“When you hide glass, it’s like hiding a little jewel,” Ryser said. “This is a great opportunity to help spread the word about Hot Glass and get more people over there. We’re kind of tucked away behind Davenport Printing.”

Normally, these glass floats would sell for $45, he said. People who find them can keep them. Full details can be found at qcglasshunt.com.

A sampling of glass floats made by Hot Glass at Quad City Arts, Sept. 1, 2022 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Each float has a glass stopper with a QC emblem and QR Code sticker. Scan the QR code with your mobile device, and it takes you to the website at qcglasshunt.com, where you report your discovery. You will then enter your name, the park you found the float, and the number etched on your float. Each float has an individual engraved number (e.g., 5/250) to identify it.  You can also post about your QC Glass Hunt experience and photos on Facebook at QC Glass Hunt.

A running tally of discovered floats will be reported on the website. People can collect as many floats as they can find. The treasure hunt does not end until all floats have been found. Plans are to repeat this project every year.

Fisherman used these floats

“Fishermen once used glass floats to keep their fishing nets and longline or droplines afloat,” Ryser said. “People would find these glass floats when they washed up on the shore. The QC Great Glass Hunt captures the spirit of finding a treasure.

“You will discover clear floats and colorful floats on your treasure hunting journey. The search is part of the fun,” he said. “We are excited to partner with Visit Quad Cities on this first-of-a-kind project in the Quad Cities.”

According to Visit Quad Cities, similar float glass hunts have been popular in Lincoln City, Ore., and Westport, Wash.

Charlotte Doehler-Morrison is Visit Quad Cities vice president for marketing and communications and a board member of Hot Glass (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“The Quad Cities’ creative energy is exemplified by the artists that bring their creations to life through paintings, pottery, jewelry, sculptures, murals, and handblown glass,” Doehler-Morrison said. “We are excited to partner with Quad City Arts and Hot Glass to bring these new experiences to Quad Citizens and our visitors. We also look forward to promoting these new in-destination experience through social media and advertising.” 

“I call them orbs,” Herrell said. “Each float has the QC of the QC regional brand, which is part of the artwork, which is a great thing for us.”

“The database is updating constantly,” Doehler-Morrison said of the website. “People are out there searching for them, so I would highly suggest you get out there and start searching, and find a beautiful piece of hand-blown glass.”

One of the QC glass floats outside.

Once all 250 are found, Hot Glass will launch another glass hunt.

“It’s also about getting people into our area parks and walking,” Doehler-Morrison said, noting the public art trail is a mobile-based site.

“That is introducing people to the amazing array of public art,” she said. “The arts really add to the culture of the Quad Cities. There are some very talented artists here. We need to celebrate that, be aware of that, and get out there and enjoy it.”

For more information on Quad City Arts, click HERE. For more about Hot Glass, click HERE.