A place called home: A grandfather’s art

News | December 10, 2015

Heidi Watkins attended a concert with her mom, Patty (Lundahl) Watkins, about 15 years ago at First Lutheran Church in Moline. As she sat in the pews, she noticed the incredible mural behind the altar, and half-moon-shaped pieces depicting the life of Jesus up in the high ceilings of the historic sanctuary.

At one point, her mom leaned over and told her that it was Heidi’s great-grandfather who created them.

“Aren’t they just gorgeous?” Heidi said as she stood in that same sanctuary earlier this week.


Frank Lundahl’s life as an artist is getting some attention lately, as a portion is on display at the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art. “A Place Called Home: Frank Lundahl and the Quad Cities” runs through Feb. 12. The exhibit showcases works donated to the college by the Watkins family and the Castel family of Davenport – both descendants of a prolific painter who made his living, and his life, painting and sketching sacred and secular scenes. It is free and open to the public, Wednesday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m., when classes are in session. The museum will be closed Dec. 18-Jan. 10.

Claire Kovacs is the director of the museum. The college, she said, is excited to display the collection, as part of a renewed commitment to share artists and their works with the community. The Augustana pieces are ones that were not commissioned pieces of Frank’s – they are pieces he created in his free time, because painting and sketching were who he was. He explored a variety of styles, mediums, and even what he painted on. One piece is on the back of wallpaper, others on canvas, and even cardboard. Oils, watercolors, graphite – his deep need to create is clear.

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In preparation for the exhibit, Clare gathered information about Frank, through community archives, newspaper articles, visits to the places where his works remain, and conversations with those who knew him – and his ancestors. The story she pieced together is told on a panel near the entrance of the exhibit.

Frank Lundahl (1858-1932) was a Swedish-American artist born in Rock Island.  He first trained under Lars Axel Blombergson, a Swedish painter who immigrated to Moline. He later studied at what is now the Art Institute of Chicago.

Making his living as a muralist, Frank created canvas paintings in his studio, which were then installed onsite. He painted church and secular murals for interiors in the Quad Cities, as well as in Chicago. While many of his murals were created in buildings that have been torn down or renovated, such as the Second Congregational Church in Moline, the Moline Public Library, the Illinois Theater in Rock Island, and the FOE building in Rock Island, his works still survive at the First Lutheran Church in Moline and the Capitol Theater in Davenport.

His ceiling paintings in the Joseph Huntoon Homestead in Moline played a role in a vigorous community debate when the house was slated for demolition in the mid-1980s.

Through his commissions, Frank established a reasonable reputation as a muralist in the Quad Cities.

But when not creating works on commission, Frank created sketches and paintings that focus on the Mississippi Valley. “Working in oils, watercolor and graphite, these works — a dramatic shift in focus from his interior murals — are a portrait of the daily life in the region: river boats, landscapes, farm scenes and still lifes.”

The largest piece in the Augustana exhibit is The Blacksmith. Started in 1900, it was meant to be a tribute to John Deere. A hoped-for sale to the company never materialized. Instead, it hung in Patty Watkins’ childhood home for many years. In 1991, it was restored, donated to Augustana, and installed in Wallenburg Hall, where it remained for a number of years.

Today, several of Frank’s descendants have pieces in their homes, including Patty and Heidi. There’s one large piece in particular that Patty hopes to have restored.

“It’s nice that he’s being recognized again,” Patty said.


2 Comments on “A place called home: A grandfather’s art”

  • Heidi Watkins

    December 12, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    As I have grown older, I have developed a much greater appreciation for my Great Grandfather’s works of art. I’m grateful for your interest in this, Ann McGlynn. Thanks for sharing!

  • Patty Watkins

    December 10, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Thank you, Anne. You did a beautiful job on the article about my Grandfather. I’m proud of him and wish I had inherited some of his talent.

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Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,





He then says,



18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”