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Posted August 31, 2016in Art Pimp

Ladies’ month in the art scene

Perhaps because, as Picasso remarked, artists are children who never grow up, the art world marks time to a school year calendar. Summer is for vacation, frivolity and fairs. September returns the arts to more serious things. It is no different this year, although the better nature of this month’s

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Posted August 10, 2016in Art Pimp

American mirth

Things are looking a bit more like business as usual again at Steven Vail Fine Arts. The second-floor gallery in the Teachout Building was inaccessible for weeks because of crime scene barricades. Architect and building owner Kirk Blunck was found dead in front of Vail’s doorway, and it became a

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Posted July 27, 2016in Art Pimp

Still relevant

Jordan Weber is one of the lucky artists to whom the perfect time comes. His art had long been dealing with African-American stereotypes and subject matter before Ferguson, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas inspired billionaire financier George Soros and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay to pour big money into

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Posted June 15, 2016in Art Pimp

Far from the madding crowd estimates

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said there are three kinds of lies — “Lies, damned lies and statistics.” Mark Twain liked the quote so much he stole it. Summertime in Des Moines gives the lie to some mind boggling “statistics,” mostly in the form of crowd estimates. For instance, the

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Posted May 25, 2016in Art Pimp

Glenn Brown — past is prologue

    “The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.”  — William Faulkner   “Glenn Brown” opened at the Des Moines Art Center last week and plays through August 28. Four years in preparation, this is the first USA exhibition by the English artist who was part of the Damien

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Posted April 20, 2016in Art Pimp

Gone to look for America

  Losing gamblers like to say it’s “better to be lucky than good.” Actuarial scientists, who have refined the business of odds making, prefer saying “luck is short term.” It’s best to be lucky AND good. Thomas Jackson is both. Before the Cedar River flooded Cedar Rapids in 2008, Jackson

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Posted March 16, 2016in Art Pimp

Artistic hubris plus lawyers

Art depends upon the hubris of artists. For much of history, the tyranny of religion made the very idea of portraying a holy image so risky that only the bravest, most confident artists would dare. It’s still that way if the artist’s subject has anything to do with the Koran.

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Posted February 24, 2016in Art Pimp

The enduring and the ephemeral

Two exhibitions at the Des Moines Art Center demonstrate polar qualities of art — the enduring and the ephemeral. “Arts & Letters,” through May 1 in the Anna Meredith Gallery, explores connections between literature and the visual arts. Some 70 works come from more than 500 centuries of art-making and

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Posted January 20, 2016in Art Pimp

The original selfie

Alexander Korda’s 1936 film “Rembrandt” ends with Charles Laughton, looking remarkably like a Rembrandt self-portrait, winking at the camera and saying, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” That is from Ecclesiastes and refers to an archaic definition of the Latin word “vanitas” as “futility.” Skull-obsessed Dutch and Flemish still life

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Posted December 23, 2015in Art Pimp

Restorations, expansions and horrors

Renaissance and expansion dominated the local art scene in 2015. The most impressive new architectural achievements were restorations. American Enterprise Group (AEG) reopened its historic Sixth Avenue headquarters thanks to a package of incentives put together by city and the state organizations. Some $30 million later, a fully restored Gordon

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