Visual Arts

The Quincy Art Center is a non-profit art museum celebrating visual arts through education exhibitions, and events.

Meet Robert Lee Mejer!

ROBERT LEE MEJER is a Distinguished Professor of Art at Quincy University, where he serves as Art Program Coordinator. He holds a M.F.A.  from Miami University of Ohio, a B.S. in Art/Art Education from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana and is a signature charter member in the Watercolor U.S.A. Honor Society.


“As a painter/printmaker my focus is creating works that unite the modern traditions of Classical formal structure using geometry with the Romantic/Impressionist concern for color and gestural improvisation in order to create a visual drama—via opposites, that equates to the pulse of life. I agree with Kandinsky that the circle is the most peaceful shape and that it represents the human soul. In my work I hope TO PRESENT (inside to out) rather than REPRESENT (outside to in).

I am a Geometric Abstract Intimist that seeks to express various emotional situations and psychic spaces via a layering process that operates out of a collage-space tradition. The role of collage plays an important part in all of my work-its physicality, its illusion, and its spatial dominance. With watercolor/monotype I try to push the realm of illusion without resorting to the physical use of collage. The painting is but a fingerprint of the spirit of this search.”

Watercolors & Monotypes

“I am attracted to the infinite possibilities of the medium/techniques of watercolor & monotype and its interaction with paper. I find the unique layering process and the fluidity of color to be seductive and rich in nuance.

The image is meant to be visually experienced by the viewer, who is challenged to think again about the nature of watercolor, image and space —to “converse” visually. The works are about the journey and sheds light on how the images came to be. In the mid-60’s

I experimented with paper collage. I struggled to balance traditional art structuring with an exploration of diverse media/processes. The “layering” process and its spatial implications became important to me. These served as new points of departure for my acrylics, oils and later watercolors.

In 1973 I received a graduate fellowship at Kent State University (Summer Blossom Art Program) to work with artists Nathan Oliveira and Milton Resnick. At that time, my images evolved through a stencil-spray enamel process on paper and also involved a series of direct oil paintings on canvas, dealing with issues of light/layering/grids and thematically with the sun, moon and space. In 1974, after having seen the spectacular monotypes by Oliveira at Kent State, I then pursued the making of one-of-a-kind images through a multiple color block printing process.

In 1979, while exploring oil-based assemblegraphs (another layering process) in a workshop at Notre Dame University with Michael Ponce De Leon, I conceived the idea of making water-based monotypes, using a painterly direct approach on grained Plexiglas and then printing the image in reverse using an etching press.  As the monotype became the focus for my experimentation in the 1970’s, I continued to draw inspiration from the analogy with collage, by using an assortment of industrial shapes fabricated from new or discarded screen scraps, plastic ribbon, sandpaper, cloth, string and paper/tracing fragments reflective of our society. These elements were then painted, dried and assembled on the plate before printing. In essence my monotypes are printed symbolic collages. Now I find that what I have learned from the monotype experience haunts the images I capture in my watercolor painting.

I am a modernist in attitude, influenced by Gorky’s painterly/scumbled surfaces, Rothko’s delight in color-edge, Kandinsky’s non-objectivism, and Klee’s experimentalism. I am a representational artist, but I choose to represent not the world of appearances, but emotional situations and psychic spaces. Labels can suggest, but they cannot define an artist. His work forces him to make his own language, a process, which takes a very long time.

The watercolors are the subject themselves and not about subject matter. However, certain images fascinate me. On the one hand, I explore architectural forms as they relate to order: windows, which frame our perception of reality and allows light to enter our spaces; doorways, which yield a sense of our own presence in space and mirrors, which introduce a special play of light and inner space. Yet I am also drawn to parallel the shapes of nature, in particular the randomness of cloud forms and the accidental/weathered /natural and manmade mark. I am concerned with the interplay of indoor/outdoor spaces and with the process of creating illusory spaces on a two-dimensional paper, through the layering of elements.

Many analogies suggest what I am trying to do. I am a chess player, manipulating limited resources and rules to generate an infinite, surprising array of moves. I am a jazz musician of visual music: creative, instantaneous, and improvisational. My works are visual poems, inviting dialogue with the viewer; and visual music, a song for the eyes.

All of my work partakes of the dynamic experience of the moment: my life experience, the collective experience of art history and the interactive experience of creating the work. I want to call up in the viewers a special experience of their own: a child-like awe and curiosity, a renewed freshness of vision.”

The Quincy Art Center will host the opening reception for Robert Lee Mejer: 50 Year Retrospective – Inscapes on Friday, March 16, 2018 from 6 – 10 p.m. A gallery talk by Robert will start at 7:30 p.m. Join us for appetizers and beverages throughout the evening! 


We are missing those summer youth employees!

Though it’s currently cold and snowy, the Art Center staff is dreaming of summer interns and all the help they provide! Allison Hutson, 2017 Summer Youth Employment in the Arts Employee, was kind enough to reflect back on the her experience at the Art Center.  

This summer has been my first “real” job. I normally babysit or sing at weddings. When I received the call that I had gotten the job, I was both excited and nervous to begin my new job. I knew that while working at the Art Center, I would learn more about and enhance my love for making art!

I can honestly say that working here has been thoroughly enjoyable and it doesn’t really feel like work! The atmosphere and people are so welcoming and helpful here at the Art Center, and I am so glad to have worked here. My job this summer has been to be an assistant to the art teachers for art camp, and to do some other things to help maintain the cleanliness and organization of the art studios. I also had the privilege of helping at the reveal of the new logo, QFest, Art Center tours, and the Adams County Fair Booth. I can most definitely say that I loved helping at all of these things. My favorite thing was to see the kids get excited about making art, and the awe on their faces when an instructor would show them something cool and exciting that they would also get to do and experience.

The funniest thing a student said to me was actually at the last day of art camp. When working with younger kids, I have found that if you ask them questions about what they like or what they think, you will definitely get their attention! One of the questions I had asked them was how old they thought I was. I got a few answers close to my age: 16, 17, etc. (I’m 18). When I called on one of the other students, they blurted out, “39!” I almost couldn’t contain my laughter. They were completely serious, too, which made it even more funny.

The Art Center has truly made me feel welcome here! I have gained a new circle of friends through their helpfulness and our collaboration. I know when I return home from college on visits, I will most definitely have to make a pit stop here at the Art Center. My coworkers here are so supportive of my ambitions and the things that I do, and I truly love working with such empowering women. I’m going to miss working here, but I know that in college I am going to use the knowledge and skills I have acquired here at the Art Center. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the summer before my freshman year in college.

The Quincy Art Center will find out if we have been granted the Illinois Arts Council Summer Youth Employment in the Arts Project Grant around April 2018. Until then, we always love volunteers! Find out more!


Making kids a little smARTer.

smArt Kids is the Art Center’s art outreach program which provides visual arts education to elementary students in the Quincy Public Schools. The smArt Kids Program brings children to the Art Center for a unique art experience. In addition, students will be visited twice in their classrooms for a hands-on art lesson. We get to the heART of the matter below:

I arrived at the classroom early and was waiting for the kids to get back from recess. There was one girl still in the classroom with her head down on the reading table not responding to the teacher who was trying to get her to open up and explain to him what was going on. I gathered that there was a small incident that had happened that led her to remain inside while the others were out at recess and that she was new to the school after just moving to town mid-semester. As the others returned from recess, I began my lesson about Frida Kahlo which included the hands-on activity of creating a self-portrait. Throughout my talking, I noticed her still at the reading table with her head down. I passed out materials for the hands-on portion of the lesson and gently set a paper, pencil, and tempera paints next to her so she could join in if she decided to do so. I am very grateful that she did because as I began to walk around and take them step by step on how to construct a self-portrait she sat up and began to do a wonderful, cartoon-style version of herself, and I must say, for a second grader I was very impressed with her skill and style.

That’s why we do this program. Art is a safe zone. It’s a small, intimate space between the child and their creation where they can reflect, learn, and process without judgment. Unfortunately, because of funding, a lot of schools can’t offer that safe zone to students. Through PTA’s and grants we are able to bring that to the kids. Although it is only twice a year that we get to go into each classroom, on that day a safe zone is exactly what that girl needed. She needed to create something, express her feelings not in words but in art.  That was about a year ago now and I can still picture her beautiful piece of art.

-Elizabeth Rankin, smART Kids Program Instructor

Thank you to our current and previous supporters for helping the Art Center create a safe zone for the children of our community:

Tracy Family Foundation, Ameren, Quincy Public Schools Foundation, Community Foundation of the Quincy Area, Kirk Family Foundation, Samantha Otte Foundation, ShopKo Foundation, Adams Electric, Golden Kiwanis: Circle K, Great River Artisans, PTAs and Schools, Q-Fest, Breakfast Kiwanis, Breakfast Optimist Club, Individual Contributions, and The Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

Meet Amanda Brown

My name is Amanda Brown and I am a lover of all things art related. I was born in Hays, Kansas and lived there the first four years of my life and for the last 18 years, I have lived in Camdenton, Missouri. Most people recognize it as the Lake of the Ozarks. My father was the main influence in art growing up. He would sit down and show me all of his drawings from high school and all of the comic book pages that he had inked. I wanted to be just as good as him when I grew up.

In grade school, art was always my favorite subject. I loved making crafts and drawing. I preferred art over recess any day. Once I got to middle school, art classes were not required anymore but I took them as extracurriculars anyway. I mostly stuck to drawing and painting but I did take one clay class in high school along with all of the other art courses available. Senior year of high school, I took a Professional Portfolio class and created quite a few pieces to put in a portfolio to show to some colleges.

Using my portfolio from High School, I was able to get a scholarship at Culver-Stockton College, in Canton, Missouri, where I am currently a first-semester senior. I have learned about art here in a lot of different ways. I have taken multiple art history courses and through those I have found some of my favorite artists. I have taken multiple clay, painting, printmaking, drawing, and graphic design courses. I have taken two pastel workshops through the school the past two years. The workshop instructor is from France and her name is Cecile Houel and she is an amazing pastel artist.

I have taken a study abroad trip to Ireland, France, and London to learn more about the Fine Arts. That was an amazing experience and I hope to go back again someday. I have also taken an Internship at the Quincy Art Center and it was so cool to meet local artists and other artists that traveled long distances to show their works. I was privileged to start working with the Permanent Collection at the Art Center and I even took a workshop there where we sculpted the human form using clay and finding different techniques to do that. It was a great learning experience.

I have also had the privilege of hanging my artwork in a few shows over the past few years. In 2015, I entered a couple paintings into the Clarksville Raintree Arts Council exhibition and I received second place for my self-portrait. I also had a mixed media piece hanging at the Oakley Lindsay Show at the Quincy Art Center. I hung my other mixed media piece at the Hannibal Arts Council and ending up selling that. That was my first piece I had ever sold. Lastly, I entered a pastel drawing of my baby nephew to the Hannibal Arts Council “Originalle” show and received a merit award.

One artist that inspires my artwork would be Robert Gratiot. His cityscapes are absolutely mind blowing! His paintings are hyper-realistic. I strive to be like him and many other similar artists. I like to push myself to be the best that I can be and I think that pushing myself to paint/draw things that I find challenging can only benefit me as an artist. Thinking in a positive light, the only way to go is up from here.

Join us on Wednesday, September 27 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Hy-Vee Market Cafe on Broadway to see Brown’s artwork and hear a brief artist talk. Her artwork will be on view through November 28, 2017.

Meet Amber Smith: A Framing Extraordinaire

amber at frameshopAmber Smith, artist, art lover, an avid classic rock fan takes a moment out of her busy day to chat with Lana about her business Rosewood Custom Framing.

Amber graduated from Culver-Stockton College in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in painting. She has worked in the framing industry for 8+ years while pursuing her personal development as an Artist. In 2015, she purchased the frame shop in Granite Bank Gallery and opened under the name Rosewood Custom Framing. In November 2016, Amber made a big move and opened at her current location at 729 Hampshire. She wanted a larger workspace for framing and a gallery space where she could show local artwork.

With a few renovations, the location at Hampshire street was transformed into a beautiful gallery in front and functional workspace in the back. Amber has artwork, pottery, and even handmade custom-made frames for sale. She shares that she has a dream of one day having her own line of frames made from rosewood, a beautiful reddish-brown wood, which inspired the name of her business.

IMG_5251As we are chatting, a customer comes in with a wedding photo he would like framed. I walk to the back and chat with her dad Larry, who is her second-hand man. Larry helped Amber with the renovations and shows up daily to help around the shop. Larry shares that Rosewood Custom Framing is not only in the business of preserving artwork, they preserve memories. Projects are as small as old family photos and as large as stained glass church windows. One of their more exciting projects was to frame old stained-glass confessional windows from St. John’s Church.









Larry shows me the before and after photos of a 1940’s family portrait of his and Amber’s ancestors. He shares that the photo had been tucked away in a box for many years,  and now it is beautifully framed and hanging on his wall at home where he can see it and enjoy it.

Amber, who has finished helping the customer, shares that they can preserve family keepsakes, needlework, and really anything people desire. Unique frames and shadow boxes make the family heirlooms look excellent, while archival mats and museum glass help items from fading and deterioration.

Rosewood Custom Framing has partnered with the Quincy Art Center to help preserve the artwork in our Permanent Collection through an in-kind Sustaining Partnership. Amber has matted, framed, and totally transformed select pieces for this year’s Permanent Collection Exhibition which opens this Friday, July 21, 2017.  Thank you to Rosewood Custom Framing for their support of the visual arts in Quincy!

During the Gallery talk at 7:30 p.m. Amber will talk about the process she went through to improve the looks and preservation of each piece. Make sure to join us!

The Times They Are A-Changin’ | Staff Updates!

If you haven’t heard the news yet, the Quincy Art Center is going through some internal changes! Steven Stoll, our education coordinator, has stepped back from his current duties to take a position at Dot Foods. Steven will stay on as an Exhibition Preparator and instructor but will pass all things education to Kayla Obert.

 Instead of seeing Kayla’s lovely face at the front desk, Elizabeth Rankin and Vicki Sandercock will be there to greet you! Elizabeth and Vicki have helped with tours, taught classes, and worked the front desk over the weekends. If you haven’t met them yet, make sure to stop in and say hello!

 While we will miss seeing Steven pretty much every day, he will still be around and involved in the Art scene in Quincy. Steven has done an awesome job providing art opportunities for our community and now it is his time to focus on his own personal artwork. This time of change is a perfect opportunity to reflect over the past 3 years and get some good stories from Steven.

What is the craziest thing one of your students has said to you? 

There are two really good ones that I will never forget. One time I had an Art Club student finish her project early and so she was drawing with some crayons until everyone was finished. I walked around to look what she was drawing and ask her what it was. She said, “this is a picture of me bringing a beer to my daddy” and the image had her carrying a silver platter with a Bud Light on it.

The second time was in the Art After School Program at St. Francis. I had a student ask me, “Mr. Steven, have you ever had a small animal, like a chipmunk ever live in your beard?”

I heard you really laid down the law on teens inappropriately dancing at the Beaux Arts Ball. Is this true?

This is true. The other staff and I were chaperoning & dancing on the side of all of the high school kids. The song “Get Low” by Lil Jon and The East Side Boyz started playing. If you don’t know, this song has some filthy lyrics in it. I noticed some of the kids singing along, and once the chorus came around (which is the filthiest) they all start screaming the lyrics. I quickly took off my QAC name tag and held it in the air like I was a police officer. I yelled “I am Quincy Art Center staff! This is Inappropriate! Watch those dirty mouths! Get it together!” They looked at me in shock.

Out of all the exhibitions, which one has been your favorite. Why?

My favorite exhibit would have to be Susan Chrysler White’s solo show in the Katherine Gardner Stevenson Gallery. Her approach to painting and her process really inspired me within my own studio practice. I remember this was the only show where I would go in the gallery on my breaks. I would sit and dissect the steps on how she executed those monster paintings. Her approach was like the act of printmaking- working with a bunch of layers with some elements of collage.

Did the resident Art Center ghosts ever scare you?

I’ve had a few bump-ins with the QAC ghosts. Besides randomly hearing footsteps, or voices in the other room while I was the only one in the building, there is one creepy moment that really stuck with me. Elizabeth Rankin, a QAC instructor, and I were downstairs late at night working on some painting examples for some art parties that were coming up the next day. We got to a drying stage and one of the paintings was looking perfect, so we both went upstairs to the kitchen to get glasses of water and something to eat. We went back downstairs to check up on the drying process and if it needed any other small touch-ups. When we looked at the painting, “someone or something” took their finger and made a 3-4” vertical swipe through the wet paint. Let me remind you we were the only ones in the building. Freaky, right?

Would you like to say anything sappy about working at the Art Center?

The Quincy Art Center will always hold a special place in my heart, even though I’m not leaving entirely I will miss seeing everyone every day. The staff has really become a family to me the past three years. This position has made me grow professionally as well as personally. With such a small staff, we get to know each other so well.  I will miss our “question of the day”, Monday weekend recaps, staff field trips, and our post-opening celebrations.

Congratulations to Steven, Kayla, Elizabeth, and Vicki on their new positions! Stop by our location and congratulate them anytime we are open which is Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Steven will be in and out of the Art Center and has pledged to be on the Halloween Art Crawl so everyone can see his new artwork!

I am Retiring!

I am retiring. The time has come for the torch to be handed to another artist. It has been my pleasure to facilitate the figure drawing group since 2012. Yes! It has been 5 long years in which I have grown artistically, met some amazing people, and formed friendships. Here is a little look into chapters of the past, the impact the program has had on my life, and a few good memories I will never forget!

2012: True Love

I had just graduated from college and need $$$. I need it bad. Jen would ask “Lana, do you want to clean the studio?”  Yes. “Lana, do you want to teach a class?” YES. “Lana, do you” YES!

So I found myself leading drawing group, a totally new experience for me and a little scary at first to be honest. There is nothing like asking someone to disrobe and stand in awkward positions in front of a group of strangers. Finding models was tough, so I turned to friends, family, and the regulars who frequented Spring Street Bar on Tuesday nights. Hey, I was just out of college.

The handsome Jake Reed (yes, he is my husband now!) was one such individual who took on the challenge and took off his clothes. Ladies calm down, he has retired from modeling, but you can see one of my first drawings of him above.

2013: Earl

EARL. If you have ever visited one of our sessions you have probably heard this story. To help find nude models, I put out an ad on Craigslist. Lo and behold someone answered! Earl.

Earl showed up in a red corvette, he had driven across the state to grace little Quincy, IL. He showed up early and prowled around the Art Center’s exhibits. I was nervous. This was my first nude model that I didn’t know. There was a summer storm brewing and things were feeling weird. To my surprise, the session began and was running pretty smoothly. Earl was an experienced model and while he told us some strange stories about his nudist colony days, he was doing a pretty good job. Then the heavens opened and the rain came down, the fire alarm went off, and everybody panicked.

Except for Earl. Throughout the alarm going off, he stayed cool, calm, and totally naked lounging on our stage. I want to mention a few things to really set the scene for you. Earl was retired and at least 65 years old. He was reclining on a zebra blanket we used for padding. He was completely nude and looking majestic.

That’s when the Quincy Fire Department walked in the door to make sure everything was ok. After a strained conversation and avoiding all eye contact with the Firemen, our building was deemed safe and we proceeded with drawing since Earl was still striking a pose.

2014: The Beautiful People 

I don’t have a great story for this year, but there were lots of beautiful people who modeled and stopped by to draw. The attached drawing shows either Emily or Bobbi. Both ladies were gorgeous and modeled numerous times for the Art Center. Emily taught classes, helped around the Art Center, and moved half across the world to spread her love of art to the children there. Bobbi, moved to Georgia where she is continuing her education.

Another model, Kayla had been quite pregnant when she modeled for our group. While this drawing isn’t one of my best, it is totally an emotional snapshot of that time. Her baby is growing into a beautiful little girl. This past fall that “baby” showed up to ArtFest and painted a rock. I like to think she feels comfortable at the Art Center and creating since she has been immersed in it since the womb.

I have mentioned just a few of the models over the past years, but all of them have been great! I hope all of them look back at their modeling days with a certain sense of pride.

 2015: Friendships

 I think it took a while for everyone to get comfortable enough to share their drawings. Somewhere along the way, the artists became open to learning from each other and a sense of comradery pervaded. It became a custom to layout the drawing at the end of the evening and share thoughts and ideas. These “critiques” were and are not brutal, but more of a cheerleading squad for each other. If you ever show up in the future “Hey, I really like what you did here” and “Very Emotive” are some of the phrases you might hear.

This environment was perfect for aspiring art majors and over the past year students from John Wood Community College, Culver-Stockton College, and Quincy University have joined our group to draw and learn. Occasionally, one of the students will stick around and become a model and a comrade.

One person who started attending was a bearded guy named John. He was a free-lance graphic designer and loved to paint and draw. Over the weeks, we talked more and more and we became friends. Friends meet friends, love developed, and now John is married and my neighbor. Not to be a creeper, but I can literally look out my window and see his house. This “stranger” continues to attend the figure drawing sessions and even dressed up in a pirate costume to model!

2016: Artistically Speaking

I have once heard that it takes 10 years of practice to become an expert. I can attest to the fact that if you repeatedly practice drawing every Monday for 5 years, you will improve too. I can look back on my drawings and see that there has been millions of tiny improvement over the years, and there is a still lot of room to get better! Artists are not born with a paint brush in their hands. The road to a good painting is paved with a lot of crappy ones. Yes, feel free to quote me on that J

2017: Retirement

 Making art is a life long struggle to create, explore, reflect, and strive to be better. That being said, I plan on continuing to attend the sessions once they start back up in August as well as my own personal practice. I hope that you, our dear reader, will be dually inspired to express your creativity too and join us on Monday nights!

Maybe Mondays aren’t for you, but with the ever changing adult classes, kids classes, and special events the Art Center provides all year long, there is always something for everyone. GET INVOVLED! Perhaps you will meet the love of your life, make a new friend, meet your future neighbor, hone a skill, or develop a passion. What are you waiting for?