“This house has its own following,” Michele says as we stand on her sunny back porch overlooking the Mississippi River. “People often recognize the address.”
Michele’s home has a long, varied history. When construction started in 1879, it was to be one of the grandest homes around. Henry F. Petersen – of the famous Petersen’s Sons’ Store that eventually evolved into Von Maur – wanted an Italian villa on a bluff. What he got was a mansion fit for the heir to Iowa’s first department store mogul.
The home stayed in the Petersen family for decades. In the 1970s, it was a behavioral treatment center for youths. Prior to that, it was a retirement home. For a brief stint in the ‘90s, it housed a trendy restaurant. In recent times, it was the home of Keith Meyer, a highly respected activist and Renaissance man, champion for deaf rights and local politics.
Throughout everything, however, no major renovations have marred the home’s original woodwork, ornate ceilings, or elaborate fireplaces.
Even though the house is at the end of a winding driveway marked as private, Michele says: “We get a lot of looky-loos… one car even drove through our yard.”
That’s totally uncool. Don’t be like those jerks. Instead, come out on Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for an art show and sale on the grounds at 1012 Marquette Street in Davenport. All of the artists are women – members of the 1012 Art Collective – and most would be considered “outsider artists.”
“Outsider” is a fashionable term at the moment with corporate leeches and political blockheads. An outsider artist, however, is someone who makes art without any formal training or sponsorship. This usually means the artist makes little to no profit from their work.
I will use myself as an example. While I earned my Master’s from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, that degree was in writing. So technically, all of my jewelry, paintings, collages, sculptures, drawings, etc. qualify me. Over the past decade, I’ve maybe made $60 from my artwork. When people stiff me – which happens a lot – I don’t bother to chase them down.
That is not to say that you’ll be able to get away with that on Saturday. I won’t be the only one there, after all. My compatriots are all bad-ass ladies who aren’t afraid to throw a punch. Michele chased down that car that drove through her yard. She’ll get you.
If you respect her home, however, she is a lovely person. A dedicated horticulturalist and landscape designer, this multi-talented woman is opening the first floor of her home to visitors. The house has not been open to the public in three years, so this is quite an event for history buffs as well as patrons of the arts.
Paintings, clothing, stained glass, jewelry, plants, and hula hoops are among the items for sale. I will have some of my weird collages and prints. Snacks and drinks will be available all day. There’s even going to be a bake sale!
If this show is successful, you should have another one to look forward to in the fall. See you there!