About Isabel & John Bloom
Isabel's Early Years
Isabel Rose Scherer was born in Galveston, Texas on Feb. 20, 1908 and raised in Davenport, Iowa. Her artistic life began early.
As a young girl, Isabel fashioned small animals from clay dug along the banks of the Mississippi River. She baked them in the family hearth. She got in trouble, but it was worth it!
Later, she received daily art lessons at Davenport's Immaculate Conception Academy, followed by further training at the Vogue School of Fashion and Design. Later still, Isabel attended the Chicago Art Institute.
Isabel at Stone City ... and in Davenport
In the early 1930's, Isabel spent 2 summers at the Stone City Art Colony in central Iowa, carving limestone under the watchful eye of America's great regionalist artist, Grant Wood.
While there, Isabel met another soon-to-be accomplished young artist, John Bloom, whom she married in 1938.
While sculpting in her new Davenport home and raising 3 young sons, Isabel accepted the challenge of communicating in the new medium of live television.
As host of the children's program, "Let's Make Believe," Isabel modeled, dressed and used clay figurines of her own design to illustrate the stories she told - these were Isabel's puppets!
A short art lesson concluded each program. Isabel's insightful observations of children became the driving inspiration of her career as a sculptor.
You can see Wood's regionalist influence in Isabel's artwork. Crafted from the locally-available materials of concrete and river stone, Isabel Bloom figurines reflect inspiration from the artist's own backyard. Children playing and exploring. Pets lounging. Wildlife swimming, running and flying.
Creating "Isabel Bloom"
Isabel's experimentation with the reproduction of her clay sculptures led to the development of the unique concrete casting and finishing process she used to create her statues. Hand-finished to resemble weathered bronze Victorian-era garden sculptures, Isabel was now able to produce multiple pieces for sale.
These early sculptures soon gained popularity with the customers of a Chicago gift store named Hoops. The increasing demand gave Isabel the confidence to move her studio from home into rented quarters in the Village of East Davenport. To increase production, Isabel also traded her mortar box and trowel for the little red cement mixer that became her pride and joy - and a fixture in her studio - for the next 30 years.
We invite you to learn more about Isabel's history by attending our 1st annual festival. Enjoy seeing how area children interpret the regionalist style and subject matter. View the exhibit of Isabel's original artwork. Watch puppet shows that aren't too different from those created by Isabel herself 60 years ago. And enjoy what your children create in the make-and-take art tents!
John Vincent Bloom is the vital hand that took up the brush of Grant Wood to create the regionalist style and spirit in our own time.
Like Grant Wood, his mentor and colleague, John Bloom (1906) was a native who drew inspiration from his immediate surroundings and personal experiences.
During the course of his 60-year career as an artist, John produced a considerable body of work ranging from large murals to intimate studies, sculptures carved in wood to lithographic prints and easel paintings.
His interest in depicting local, American subject matter reflects his life-long commitment to Regionalism, a movement popular during the Great Depression.
John’s often humble subjects are filled with warmth, careful observation and humor.
The sculpture of his playful cat, or the kneeling cow from the Tipton Post Office Mural, present animals within a moment of action that are distinguished by simplified accuracy. His works of art honor the natural world.
The well-observed humor in the painting After Church (1934) or the strength represented in the sculpture Wrestlers (1936) reveals John’s skills of observation and memory.
Another favorite painting, Monkey Island (1987) carefully portrays parallels between people and animals. Look at the child climbing a tree as a monkey does the same nearby. See the standing pregnant woman across from the pregnant monkey on the stone wall.
See some of John's work for yourself at the historic East Village Firehouse!