Rockin’ Rock Island Murals: Tour the City via Wall Art

I love living in the Quad Cities, and in Rock Island specifically. One of the reasons is the murals that are literally almost around every corner. A few months ago, our family drove by the new mural on the corner of 14th Ave. and 30th Street every day to see the progress.

If you haven’t toured the murals of Rock Island lately, let me be the first to invite you to check out the artwork! It’s pretty rockin’. Here are some of my favorites.

Meghan’s Favorite Murals in Rock Island, Illinois:

Arts Alley
1st and 2nd Avenues between 17th and 18th Streets
This is one of the newest mural spots in Rock Island offering both wall art and sculpture. The murals were done by Quad City Art’s Metro Arts Apprentices under the guidance of Sarah Robb. The sculpture was created and fabricated by Tommy Riefe. You won’t want to miss this lovely spot!

Augustana College murals (2)
6th Avenue/35th Street and 38th Street/7th Avenue
Both of these murals were painted by Augustana College students under the direction of Peter Xiao, professor of art at the college. The one along 38th Street is called Rhythms of Diversity and brings together elements of the Quad Cities and Augustana community. The 6th Avenue mural outside the Art Building is a combination of shapes and colors.

Black Hawk Mural
1701 – 1705 2nd Avenue
This six-story mural is on the side of the VanDerGinst Law building which was built in 1908 and recently converted into an apartment building and boutique hotel. This wall art is truly fantastic because the painting uses a technique called trompe l’oeil which literally means “tricks your eye” since it makes you see more to the building than is actually there. It’s pretty amazing! Definitely follow the link above and learn more about the Black Hawk Mural and amazing artist Richard Haas.

Photo Credit: Richard Haas

DeSoto Arts building mural
2324 3rd Avenue
This vibrant mural painted on the east wall of the building is a bit of a reflection of what’s inside and brightens up 3rd Avenue. This was painted by the Quad City Arts’ Metro Arts Apprentices under the direction of Sarah Robb.

Escape to Nature
Quad City Botanical Center, 2525 4th Ave.
I love catching a peek at this mural at the botanical center. As a graduate, I like that Augustana College students and faculty designed and painted the mural. #goVikings!

The Mural at Douglas Park
9th Street and 16th Avenue
Next time you are near Douglas Park, check out the mural on the side of the concession stand. It was painted by Metro Arts students as part of a Quad City Arts youth apprenticeship program. The City of Rock Island sponsored their work and the Parks Board approved the proposal and the mural design.  The history at Douglas Park is so vibrant. It was the site of the first National Football League game! This mural reflects that and the sports history that’s developed on the fields over the years. Rock Island history for the win!

Oceanfront Property
2104 4th Avenue
This impressive mural has offered a fun aquatic scene in Rock Island for almost 10 years. Who doesn’t want to imagine they are under the sea during some chilly Midwest winter days?

Pocket Park Mural (pictured at the top)
30th Street and 14th Ave
This mural is my favorite of the  moment, probably because I pass it most days and the flowers are so engaging. I love the colors and the vibrancy. I think the mural just welcomes people to the College Hill District in Rock Island. This mural was painted by Heidi Sallows with the help of some former Metro Arts Apprentices. The newly-named Pocket Park is a lovely spot to stop and enjoy the view.

Rock Island Train Mural
223 17th Street
My kids love trains which is one of the reasons why I love this mural so much, but I also think it’s a great story: the first bridge across the Mississippi River, a steamboat, a fire, Abe Lincoln – what’s not to like? And, if you take the Celebration Belle tour they will note that you can see the remnants of the bridge on Arsenal Island. I also like this mural because it’s by a family friend and local artist, Bill Gustafson.

The Train Mural is shown here on this flyer for the Train Festival held in 2011.

There’s a new mural going up downtown Rock Island across from the Stern Center in the alley. It’s being painted by Dominic Velando and facilitated by Quad City Arts. It’s meant to be done in a graffiti style to beautify the alley. It should be finished by the end of October, so you’ll have to see how it turns out!

Decommissioned parking meters
Say what?! These are so great! It’s not wall art, but it’s so fantastic I had to include them: old parking meters that local artists paint. Many of the artists are amateur. One is a friend of my son’s and a great young local talent. Plus (this the best!) the meters are operational so any coins put in the meters will collect donations for local art. I could not love this more!


About the author

Meghan Cooley Meghan Cooley moved to the Quad Cities from St. Charles, IL, as an Augustana College student over 20 years ago. She left briefly after graduation and then returned to work in admissions and then marketing at Augustana College for 18 years. She now works as a consultant for admissions marketing and social media. She also does copy editing and writes for the Quad City Moms Blog. Now a true Quad Cities transplant, Meghan lives in Rock Island with her husband, Luke (R.O.W.V.A. and Augustana grad and Modern Woodmen employee) and four boys. She loves living in the Quad Cities and finds it the perfect place to raise a family, plan a date night, and go on adventures.

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One comment on “Rockin’ Rock Island Murals: Tour the City via Wall Art

  1. Fantastic article & beautiful murals! As a former Augustana grad & Rock Island resident, I love that the city is allowing Quad City Arts to help beautify the downtown area. Kudos to all involved in this ongoing project! 😍🤗

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