Artist takes on tall task, creates downtown Davenport welcome sign | Local News

Iowa-bound drivers on the Government Bridge soon will be greeted by a vibrant piece of art as they enter downtown Davenport.

The 12-by-24-foot mural at the foot of the crossing will be unveiled Thursday afternoon.

Currently shielded by a tarp, the free-standing sign resembles an old postcard that reads, “Welcome to downtown Davenport, Iowa.”

It features numerous city landmarks and state symbols, said Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, a division of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, which funded a majority of the project.

About three years ago, as he grew “sick and tired” of the naked wall the mural now blocks, Carter approached his friend and Quad-City artist Johnnie Cluney about decorating the gateway to the city.

“The fact that we had nothing welcoming people into the state and the downtown always drove me nuts,” Carter said. “We had a welcome sign there at one point, but for whatever reason, it went away for a really long time.”


In this 1938 photograph, the former “Welcome to Davenport” sign is visible at the foot of the Government Bridge in downtown Davenport. The Davenport Rotary Club used the slogan, “Davenport, where the West begins,” to promote the city in the 1920s. 

In hopes of diversifying his portfolio, Cluney, a lifelong Quad-Citian, accepted the challenge.

“First of all, you don’t turn down work,” Cluney, 35, said this week. “But I was super nervous to do this because thousands of people are going to see it every day.”

If he did it right, however, Cluney, who had not drawn anything this size before, thought he could land more freelance gigs in the future.

As an illustrator for Daytrotter, the Davenport-based independent music business, Cluney is known for his colorful portraits of musicians. He has…

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