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July 19, 2012
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Artists — new, shakespearean and emerging

By Jim Duncan

“Patriot” by Gary Kelley, 32x32 oil on canvas.

Moberg Gallery’s “New Artists Exhibit” (through Aug.18) introduces five artists from far parts of Iowa and the world. Last year, at Travis Rice’s opening, that artist recognized a gallery visitor and exclaimed “Holy shit, you’re Bart Vargas.” Vargas, who has an international reputation as a found object and up-cycling artist, responded, “Holy shit, someone here knows who I am.” Well traveled Vargas hangs his hat in Council Bluffs these days and debuts in Des Moines with an installation of 104 latex paintings on panels, all with the look of Pointillism on steroids.

From the other side of the state, Gary Kelley brings a series of paintings depicting famous Iowans. Young Laura Ingalls Wilder reads to her Holstein cow, Bix Biederdeck relaxes with his horn, Norm Borlaug works in front of the family barn in Cresco, Black Hawk poses ominously for a portrait, Bill Cody works the range, the Ringling Brothers do their thing in the ring and Carl van Vechten has drinks with Lost Generation super stars Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Alice B. Toklas and Ernest Hemingway.

David Rose grew up the nephew of his inspiration — Chuck Close. Rose taught meditation in Europe for many years and now brings to this show a digital series of deeply meditative fractal and vector images on aluminum and paper. Some can astound the eye.

Finally, old India hands Michael and Charlotte Cain share their Hindu inspired meditations on Vedic gods and Moghul miniaturists. Charlotte’s are in gouache on panel, and Michael’s are bronze and wooden sculptures.

Makeovers for the Bard

Shakespearean doings are quite different this year. Repertory Theater of Iowa’s partnership with Salisbury House is kaput. There will be no Shakespeare on the Lawn this summer. After a couple years of experiments with re-interpreted, multimedia Shakespeare, the Iowa Shakesperience Fest is returning to literal Bard interpretations — with “Romeo & Juliet” at Simon Estes Amphitheater July 18 - 22. They will also perform on the lawn of West Des Moines’ historic Jordan House on July 19. There may never have been such a tale of woe, but happily these productions remain free.

After debuting earlier this month in Ames’ “the alley behind Burger King,” Matt Foss’ Iowa State University theater troupe is taking its shoestring budget, big imagination production of “A Hamlet” to Mississippi, coincidentally the site of William Faulkner’s “The Hamlet.” What’s in an article? This brilliant show uses just six actors playing many parts. Ophelia is also Gertrude, which explains a lot about the problems of the former. No liberties are taken with the script despite the fact that Laertes is played by a football and several characters by puppets. The troupe hopes to bring this show to Des Moines and Council Bluffs after Mississippi.

Raw Art

Mixology (July 21 at Wooly’s in the East Village) brings a “circus” of local emerging artists in hair, makeup, fashion, photography, visual art, performing art and music to town. This event is the local kickoff of “Raw: Natural Born Artists,” an arts group out of Los Angeles that promotes similar monthly shows in 54 cities now with Des Moines on board. Their mission is simply to help artists in the first 10 years of their careers “get their work out there.”

The lineup at Wooly’s will include: hair stylists Brianne Cummins and Amanda Marie; makeup artists Kourelea Nicole, Pamela Loyola and Lindsay Ritland; fashionista La Bella Figura (Elena Flores); jewelry maker Joy Hockensmith; exotic dancer Jen Kees; body artist Emily Svec (Body by Svec); photographers Tessa Leone and Cameron Hart; tattoo artist/painter Knappy; artists Brent Westpahal, Brianna Dawson, Michelle Holley, Ryan Siedel, Christina Tufty, Ryan Saggau and D. Ryan Allen.

If that’s not enough of a circus for you, Woz will be ringmaster and DJ Flash will do his thing. Tickets are $10 advance or $15 at the door. Artists may submit their work for future shows at CV

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