Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Posted April 15, 2015in Art Pimp

The Messenger

The Des Moines Art Center recently brought Nick Cave to town for a public conversation. An overflow turnout at Levitt Auditorium made one wonder if some folks thought it was Nick Cave the rock star from Australia instead of Nick Cave the artist, fashion professor and self-described “messenger” from Chicago.

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Posted March 18, 2015in Art Pimp

Celtic lore and much more

Irish folklore from the pre-Christian era of bards and heroes has never been well served. Most of its literature was handed down orally, so few written records endured. Because the subject matter — giant family trees of superhuman creatures — was complicated, it never lent well to other forms of

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Posted February 18, 2015in Art Pimp

Allusions to the horror

“Field, Road, Cloud: Art and Africa,” at the Des Moines Art Center through April 19, takes its title from the works of Alfredo Jaar, an artist from Chile, one of the whitest nations on earth. That alone challenges politically correct academic criticism that rejects showings of African art in contemporary

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Posted January 14, 2015in Art Pimp

Art Never Loots

On a cold Friday night in mid January, some 150 people crowded into a warehouse garage on the east side. The attraction was a one-night art show by Jordan Weber and Mitchell Squire. Weber’s installation included a rusty police car sitting in a large puddle. Spotlights dramatized that one side

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Posted December 17, 2014in Art Pimp

A very good year with more to come

The close of 2014 happened with a flurry of architectural promise. Demolition began on a several Ingersoll area buildings to make way for Des Moines’ first Fresh Market, a Whole Foods-like chain from Carolina. Kemin announced a handsome new headquarters in east Des Moines. The venerable buildings that housed The

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Posted November 19, 2014in Art Pimp

Abstraction isn’t what it used to be

A number of exhibitions in Des Moines this month investigate a subject that has been dividing generations and offending traditionalists for a century — abstract art. The Des Moines Art Center’s “From Icon to Abstraction” recognizes the 100th anniversary of World War I by suggesting the possibility that abstract art

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Posted October 15, 2014in Art Pimp

Same subject, different points of view

A pair of current shows demonstrates similar subjects from very different points of view. Tom Jackson and Priscilla Steele have both been drawing the human form since the late 1960s. In 2008 they began drawing together in a group setting twice a week. That discipline created an intriguing examination of

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Posted September 17, 2014in Art Pimp

Galas in perspective

The Des Moines Art Center’s (DMAC) new exhibition “Art Meets Fashion” will likely become the grandest undertaking in that museum’s history, at least in number of events, money raised, community buzz, and number of volunteers involved. Yet it all began as a glorified garage sale. Ellen Hubbell, who is co-chair

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Posted August 20, 2014in Art Pimp

In pursuit of a memory

T-shirt wit suggests that art is populist: “Art just happens.” “Everyone is an artist.” “Release your inner artist.” This makes me wary. I took art classes as a kid and realized quickly that few people are blessed with the innate talent to translate visions into arresting art. In this non-judgmental

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Posted July 16, 2014in Art Pimp

Holy books and chewing gum vaginas

“From Speaker to Receiver,” the Des Moines Art Center’s big summer exhibition, takes its title from linguistic theorist Roman Jakobson’s writings on semiotics and language. Curator Gilbert Vicario explains its purpose is to explore “how contemporary artists use language as a platform for the examination and critique of authoritative and

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Barmuda