by Jessica Waytenick • October 12, 2017

Quad Cities – Irma René Koen’s legacy was largely forgotten until art historian Cynthia Wiedemann Empen, Ph. D., began a line of research that uncovered this intriguing local figure who was a professional artist at a time when women making a career in art were a rarity.

At the Figge Art Museum in downtown Davenport, Iowa, Irma René Koen: An Artist Rediscovered features more than 40 paintings by Irma René Koen, a Rock Island native, produced over the course of 70 years.  Her work reflects her artistic journey as well as shifts in style and taste during the era.  Her paintings range from light-filled impressionist scenes of the Eastern seaboard to expressive oil paintings from her time in Mexico.  The exhibit is on display until December 31, 2017. 

Koen (1883-1975) studied and painted at the Art Institute of Chicago (1903-1908) and at art colonies critical to the development of art in the country.  Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, she was an active member of the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery (the precursor of the Figge Art Museum).

In addition to an impressive run of exhibitions, awards and memberships, Koen traveled the world—working in France, England, Germany, North Africa and Asia. Koen eventually moved to Mexico where she lived and worked for more than 30 years.

Other New Exhibits

The Figge Art Museum is home to one of the largest collections of Haitian Art in the United States.  Now on display until February 4, 2018, is an exhibition by Haitian born artist Edouard Duval-Carrié titled: Endless Flight.  Endless Flight is a multipart altarpiece that combines Christian and vodou religious imagery and allegorical paintings and sculptures to create an otherworldly environment.  The piece was created at a time of increased migration to the U.S. by Haitians fleeing the political oppression and poverty in their homeland.  It represents the intersection of contemporary figurative painting and sculpture with the unique cultural traditions of Haiti.  The piece is installed in the fourth-floor gallery with a selection of recent paintings by Duval-Carrié.

Power and Piety: Spanish Colonial Art from the Patricia Phelps De Cisneros Collection presents 56 objects, ranging from paintings to silver candlesticks to bishop’s chairs, made in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies of the Americas from the late 17th to the early 19th centuries.  Together the works offer an opportunity to learn about the daily life and religious practices of colonial Latin America and shed light on the nature of commercial exchange in the region.  The exhibit is on display October 14, 2017, until January 7, 2018.

Designed for use in churches, convents and monasteries, and private homes, these objects were made by craftsmen in the Americas but based on the iconographies, styles and techniques of the European Renaissance. They attest to the tremendous interchange of cultures that occurred in the colonies, where craftsmen mixed native techniques and symbols with designs introduced by the church and also absorbed influences from across the world.  The exhibition also highlights the ways in which people practiced their religion at home and in public, with tiny paintings of patron saints contrasted with painted altarpieces and ecclesiastical furniture.

Figge Art Museum Information
The Figge Art Museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday). Admission is $7 adults; $6 for ages 60 and up and students with ID; $4 for ages 3-12. Call (563) 326-7804 for details. 

For more information and updates on tours and program, visit or call 563-326-7804. The Figge Art Museum is located at 225 West 2nd Street, Davenport, Iowa.

Discover these and many more marvels on the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities.  Contact the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-747-7800 or visit their website at

The Quad Cities is located on the Mississippi River and is made up of the riverfront cities of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Moline, East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois.  The area is just a 2-½ hour drive from Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois. It is easily accessible via I-80, I-74, I-88 and several major state highways.

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Figge Art Museum Media Contact: Natalie Dunlop, 563-326-7804, x2046 or

Photos & Media Trips: For High-res photos or for information about media tours, please contact Jessica Waytenick at the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-747-7800 Ext. 827 or

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