There is a new mural outside the German American Heritage Center in Davenport to celebrate the opening of their latest exhibit, "Sound Mind Sound Body: Turnverein Traditions". Created by Bruce Walters, Professor of Art at Western Illinois University, it is 30 feet by 10 feet and depicts a German gymnast suspending himself from rings in a feat of extreme upper-body strength.
The Turnverein organization has been called "the Turners" in the United States. The Quad Cities had a fairly robust German immigrant population, building numerous Turner Halls in the Quad Cities in Davenport, Buffalo, and Eldridge, Iowa; and in both Rock Island and Moline, Illinois. Several former Turner Halls still exist in a repurposed state, including the Village Theatre in the Village of East Davenport. The Turners began as a German fraternal organization which focused on physical education, especially acrobatics, and were also active in civic, political, and philosophic arenas.
Listen to our conversation here with Bruce Walters about how he created a mural on such a massive scale, the various other artistic outlets and intellectual interests that he pursues, and why he enjoys teaching at Western Illinois University.
The "Sound Mind Sound Body: Turnverein Traditions" exhibit will be open through Sept. 15, 2018 at the German American Heritage Center, which is located at 712 W. 2nd Street in Davenport. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The gymnast mural which is hanging on the large north side of the building can be viewed at any time, and will be up through the exhibition closing date.