By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT – The works of popular Quad-City artists Father Edward Catich, Isabel Bloom and John Bloom are on exhibit through May 12 in the Morrissey Gallery on the St. Ambrose University campus.
Heather Lovewell, curator of the Catich Gallery at St. Ambrose, said the Blooms and Fr. Catich knew of each other and their paths crossed several times. The exhibit features a variety of works by all three artists.
Works by Fr. Catich include pen and ink, slates, scratchboard illustrations, watercolors and sketchbooks. John Bloom’s work includes sculptures, cold cast bronze, wood, pen and ink, lithography and paintings. Isabel Bloom’s art includes cast concrete, a hand-built process of making one-of-a-kind statues, glaze ceramic pieces and an abstract painting.
The 80 or so pieces represent a variety of categories: wildlife, real life, fish, birds, animals, circuses and fairs.
Fr. Catich was born and raised in Montana, orphaned at age 12 and then sent to Mooseheart Orphanage near Aurora, Ill. He trained as a musician and sign painter, took classes at the Art Institute in Chicago and finished his degree at St. Ambrose College. He earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa and studied for the priesthood in Rome. After his 1938 ordination, he returned to Davenport and founded St. Ambrose’s art department. For 40 years he was a professor at the college and made contributions to the field of letterforms/calligraphy and religious art. He died in 1979.
John Bloom was born and raised in DeWitt, attended St. Ambrose for two years and graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago. “The 1930s were a decade of intense artistic creation marked by several mural commissions and awards for his lithographs, woodcarvings and oil paintings,” a press release states. Bloom was invited by Grant Wood to join the Stone City Art Colony in 1932, where he met his future wife, Isabel. They were married in 1938 and had three sons: Jerry, Tom and Charley. John transitioned to commercial work as an industrial engineer and on the weekends practiced his art. After retiring in 1969, John enjoyed a “renaissance period” with the encouragement and support of Dave Losasso. John completed three mural commissions, including one for University Hospitals in Iowa City. He died in 2002.
Isabel Bloom was born in Texas and raised in Davenport. As a young girl she made small animals out of clay from along the Mississippi River and baked the art at home. She studied at Immaculate Conception Academy, the Vogue School of Fashion and Design and the Art Institute in Chicago. She studied under Grant Wood where she learned to carve limestone sculptures and met John.
Isabel founded and owned Isabel Bloom, which features sculptured concrete statues and figurines based on real-life situations, children and animals. She died in 2001.
The Catich-Bloom art show is open to the public without appointment Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m.-9 p.m., and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., at the Morrissey Gallery in the Galvin Fine Arts Center.