How many bald eagles can you count?
This steel mural and overlook, titled “The Gathering Point,” is located on the western tip of Arsenal Island. The mural interprets the natural resources of the Mississippi River, the rich history of Arsenal Island and the legends Native Americans connected to the island.
As a community-built art project, it brought together interested citizens from all walks of life during the design phase. The artist, who served as facilitator, had the responsibility to combine the community group’s vision as to how the art should appear in a particular location, with materials were suitable for the project, and create the artwork for low maintenance in an outdoor setting.
RiverWay artist Kunhild Blacklock of East Moline and architect Ed Angerer of Rock Island designed “The Gathering Point” following several preliminary meetings that began in early 1998. Biologist Dan Sallee of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources provided the text to provide insight into the natural diversity of this area. Preston Duncan of the Meskwaki Nation provided the text concerning Meskwaki Tribal legends and related drawings. His drawing of a Native American is incorporated in the mural.
Completed in July 1999, “The Gathering Point” provides a vantage point over the wetland pocket between the main channel of the Mississippi River to the north and the Sylvan Slough to the south. Visitors can observe wildlife during the various seasons, including Great Blue Herons, American egrets, muskrat, beaver, and migrating waterfowl during the spring, summer and fall. During the winter, bald eagles rest in the trees surrounding the wetland when fishing is not viable in the frozen waterways further north.
Steel, concrete and rocks were selected for the mural because they are construction materials commonly used on Arsenal Island. The mural depicts the diversity of animal life that thrives on the island despite the many changes man has brought to this location and reinforces our appreciation of nature.