Sherry Maurer leads award winners at 33rd Riverssance art festival

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Harley Award winner Sherry Maurer at the Riverssance Festival of Fine Art. (photo Quad City Arts)

This past weekend, the 33rd Riverssance Festival of Fine Art came back with over 70 quality visual artists drawn from a national call for entries, live local music, food vendors, wine tasting, and a children’s art activity tent in Lindsay Park, the Village of East Davenport.

Sherry Case Maurer is the recipient of the 2021 Harley Award for Outstanding Community Art Support. This is an annual award bestowed during the Riverssance Festival, presented at a Saturday reception, organized by Quad City Arts (which organized the festival overall from the first time).

Although born in the Midwest, Maurer grew up in New Albany, Ind., and suburbs of Montreal and Toronto, Canada. She earned a BFA in printmaking at Miami University, Ohio and attended the prestigious Blossom Summer Program at Kent State University.

Post-graduate degrees of an MA in art history and an MFA in painting were concurrently completed at the University of Iowa. There, she was introduced to museum work through an assistantship with the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

Maurer began a career in museum work at the Cedar Rapids Art Center (1979-1982) as it transitioned to become the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, followed by positions at Augustana College (1983-2013), first as gallery curator, then becoming the first director of the Augustana College Art Museum (now Augustana Teaching Museum of Art). In 1988, she was recognized as the college’s outstanding administrator with the Harold T. and Violet M. Jaeke Award.

She brought the Quad Cities to national attention as a board member of the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (2008–2013). In 2013, the Argus/Dispatch recognized her as a community leader with an Argpatch Award. She wrote exhibition reviews for River Cities Reader, co-wrote many exhibition catalogs and co-authored with Kent Olson the article “Puebloan Plates: Innovation Becomes Tradition” for a 2014 issue of American Indian Art Magazine.

In June 2014, she joined the staff of MidCoast Fine Arts, advancing to director in 2015. MidCoast served the Quad Cities area with three gallery sites, studio and gallery spaces, and visual art exhibitions and programs, including Riverssance. MidCoast disbanded in 2020, amid funding challenges and Covid-19 shutdowns, and Quad City Arts has taken on Riverssance.

Visitors to Riverssance Festival of Fine Art this past weekend at Lindsay Park (photo Quad City Arts).

Currently, Maurer teaches Art Appreciation and Art History at Black Hawk College. “I love giving local students that first leg-up in higher education,” she said.

She is a long-time member of the Rock Island Art Guild, a community group known for organizing the Rock Island Fine Arts Exhibition, a regional juried art competition now held biennially at the Figge Art Museum. She was an early board member of the Rock Island Broadway Neighborhood Association and vice-chair of the mayor’s committee on a public pool in Longview Park.

Maurer said of this Harley Award: “It is a bit stunning to receive an award that was first presented in 1988 to an artist of such high caliber, John Bloom. The award in every sense also goes to the MidCoast board and staff members who gave so much to the vitality of art in our community.”

Additional Riverssance award winners include:

  • Best in Show: Cliff Logan, wood (Booth #53)
  • People’s Choice: Anna Repke, fiber (Booth #11)
  • Awards of Merit —
    Bill Robbins, ceramic (Booth #9)
    Stuart Roddy, oil (Booth #14)
    John VandeWalle, mixed media (Booth #20)
    David Zahn, ceramic (Booth #26)
    Devin Johnson, jewelry (Booth #37)
    Josh Meier, photography (Booth #41)
    Stephen Steininger, acrylic (Booth #48)
    Liz Robertson, ceramic (Booth #60)
    Steve Nowatzki, mixed media (Booth #62)
    Jay Stratton, wood (Booth #72)

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