Monday, September 27, 2021

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The Culture Buzz

Greetings, Cultural Catalysts:


The Covid-19 pandemic persists. Be safe. Be considerate. Be compassionate.
Continue to be creative. Find ways to celebrate your thankfulness safely with family and friends.
– John Busbee for The Culture Buzz
2014 Iowa Governor’s Award for Partnership & Collaboration in the Arts
Quote of the Week
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ― Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked
Celebrate Iowa’s History Month this March
Iowa’s Department of Cultural Affairs celebrates wide-ranging themes in the state’s history, from the Iowa History 101 series (include Inkpaduta, Emir Abd El-Kader, The Cherry Sisters, and Donna Reed), the Iowa History Book Club featuring legendary historian Dorothy Schwieder’s “Iowa: The Middle Land,” and a new exhibition exploring more than 13,000 years of history with artifacts. Information is available at
“Support a Local Business” tips of the week:

  1. 6 ways to support small businesses: Write a positive review; tell your friends & family; follow them on social media; engage with their posts; give them a shout out; sign up for their newsletter. Cost to do this: $0.00.
  2. Tangerine Foods at Mainframe Studios. A great local business ready to give you more time with your family and friends. Get on Cherry’s mailing list and receive random updates about “popup” dining opportunities… even take a meal home.

Cultural exploration opportunities

  1. Des Moines Young Artists Theatre pairs experienced performers with emerging performers for a unique performance experience that will also raise funds for their programming and operations. “Duets” matches one rising star with one veteran performer, a slate of duos sure to captivate and inspire. This event, under the musical direction of Francine Griffith and direction of Charissa Hamel, airs Fri Feb 26 through and DMYAT’s social platforms.
  2. Collaboration through the Des Moines Playhouse, nature of the dream is a filmed work of devised theatre exploring Black identity in Iowa directed by Miriam Randolph and produced by Two Steps to the Left Productions with production assistance from The Playhouse.
  3. OPENING THIS FRIDAY: Stuart Little (opens Feb 26) and Leaving Iowa (continues) are presented in repertory by the Des Moines Community Playhouse. These shows will be staged in the spacious confines, employing masking and social distancing, of the mainstage theater. The shows also will be offered streaming.
  4. MOUNTAIN GOAT MOUNTAIN. Thru Sun Mar 7, 2021 (any time of your family’s choosing). Tickets start at $10 per device. Families are invited to enjoy a screen-free, virtual theater adventure direct from Australia. Visit to learn more.
  5. Comedian John Bush and pal Patrick Albanese from ‘Triple Espresso’ Wed, March 10, 2021/ 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM CST. Surety Hotel, 206 6th Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50309
  6. Civic Music Association provides the same strong threads of great music as thy have for almost a century, just now through virtual means. Enjoy their upcoming offerings through the new Play On Series
  7. Iowa Stage Theatre Company, central Iowa’s home for award-winning theater that inspires, enlightens and entertains, is announcing a three-show virtual season in the spring of 2021. Three shows will be presented on the streaming platform Broadway On Demand. They are:

Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield (March) is the story of the relationship between two women that spans love, children, skydiving and illness, told in a creative and fluid style that keeps the audience guessing.
The Agitators by Mat Smart (April) tells the story of the decades long friendship between Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, their partnership and falling out.
Exit Strategy by Ike Holter (May) looks at the faculty and staff of an inner-city high school as they fight the system and each other to keep it open.
Full information at

  1. The Des Moines Symphony is committed to bringing a continuous schedule of performance opportunities, virtually, as they weather the pandemic while continuing to enhance our community through world-class, award-winning programming. Check out the lineup at
  1. Des Moines Performing Arts Announces New Virtual Performances for Wellmark Family Series – Families Invited to Enjoy Three Creative Journeys as part of the organization’s popular Wellmark Family Series. The three virtual experiences are designed to be interactive and encourage families to learn together while safely at home. The programs were developed within the last ten months in response to the needs of children and families to have joyful, arts-based interactions during the pandemic. “Quarantine has tested us all, especially families with young children,” said DMPA Education Manager, Karoline Myers. “The Wellmark Family Series has always been about providing opportunities for families to spend quality time together and to create lasting memories. These innovative virtual experiences, brought to us from artists around the world, continue that tradition while meeting the unique needs of families at this moment.” Visit to learn more.
  1. Des Moines Metro Opera’s (DMMO) Virtual Concert Series continues next month with Zachary James on Broadway, which premieres Friday, March 19 at 7:30pm (CST). or by calling the DMMO Box Office at (515) 961-6221.
  1. Des Moines Performing ArtsUNIVERSITY OF WONDER & IMAGINATION. Fri, Mar 19 – Sun Mar 21, 2021 (LIVE) Hour-Long performances at 10 AM, 10:30 AM, 11 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 2 PM, 2:30 PM and 3 PM. Tickets start at $10 per device. Hogwarts meets virtual escape room in this interactive, visually-stunning Zoom performanceThe University of Wonder & Imagination, presented by Belfast based theatre company Cahoots NI, is now enrolling students of all ages and magical abilities. The decisions made by the audience during the event will shape each unique experience. Visit to learn more.
  1. Terrace Hill Opens for Tours, beginning Mar 2, 2021. Guided tours are available by reservation beginning Tue Mar 2 at 10:30 and 12:00, Tuesday – Saturday. Please call 515-242-5841 to make a reservation. 


  1. “Compelling Ground: Landscapes, Environments, and Peoples of Iowa” is open now through July 23 at the Brunnier Art Museum in Ames, IA. Exhibition features art and installations from nineteen artists inspired by Iowa’s landscape.
  2. Des Moines Art Center, in the Anna K. Meredith Gallery through May 23, 2021. The Path to Paradise: Judith Schaechter’s Stained-Glass Art is the first survey and major scholarly assessment of this groundbreaking artist’s 37-year career. Human/Nature: An Exhibition Inspired by the Art of Judith Schaechter, in the John Brady Print Gallery. Artist Judith Schaechter worked with Curatorial Manager Laura Burkhalter to choose work from the Art Center’s collection by artists who inspire her or which contains thematic connections to her masterful glass constructions.
  3. The Grinnell College Museum of Art is open by appointment, Tue thru Sat, noon to 5 pm. Visitors who need to schedule a visit on Mondays or mornings, please Director Lesley Wright, Also contact Lesley Wright if you want to come with a group.

This week’s guests on The Culture Buzz – 
11:00 AM – Deborah K. Shepherd patiently waited for her muse to prod her to her debut novel, “So Happy Together.” Deborah shares insights into the journey to this brilliant novel’s creation, as it illuminates the times of the ‘60s and the ‘80s through a myriad of relatable themes.
So Happy Together exposes disturbance beneath the surface of innocence and desire amid a group of college students during the tumultuous ‘60s. Twenty years later and with grit, humor, and compassion, a spirited Caro unpacks a past shadowed by secrets, unrequited passion, and the consequences of settling. This is a page-turning road trip story of a human heart coming to terms with brokenness and regret, not just once, but finally, and where the map gets written as we go.” ―Jodi Paloni, author of They Could Live with Themselves
11:15 AM – Thriller master Steve Berry returns with his latest Cotton Malone adventure, and takes us to historical realms we perhaps have only darkly imagined. Steve shares glimpses into “The Kaiser’s Web” story, as this novel delivers another coup de bestseller punch sure to keep us turning pages as fast as we can.
“[Berry’s] most ambitious and relevant thriller to date. A no-holds-barred, high-stakes romp with echoes of class spy novelists like John le Carré, Len Deighton, and Alistair MacLean….This is a dream read for the unabashed thriller aficionado, a story stitched along classic lines that never disappoints in laying out a riveting and relentless tapestry.” ― Providence Journal
11:26 AM – Songwriter, musician, performer, producer – these are just some of the many hats this gifted and multi-faceted artist wears. Bonne Finken takes time to share how she has been finding new creative outlets from the forced isolation of the pandemic, and the world benefits from her creative production. Listen as Bonne shares some recent parts of her artistic journey.

Prep Iowa

“The sound of someone not only embracing the future, but creating it.” 

11:44 AM – After a long, pandemic hiatus, Des Moines Young Artists Theatreis ready to bounce back with a virtual performance sure to rouse everyone. Director Charissa Hamel shares insights about “Duets,” a star-powered assembling of some of the best musical theatre performers in Central Iowa paired with young proteges to present a stirring selection of songs. Francine Griffith brings her musical prowess to this project, directing, arranging and infusing her creativity, too. Fri Feb 26.
11:55 AM – Susan Werner takes us on another tuneful trip with her track “Dogs,” from her delightfully snarky album, 8 UNNECESSARY SONGS.
12:00 PM – He’s an anthropologist, archeologist, avid bicycler, veteran writer and much more, and Michael McCoy infuses his wealth of experience and knowledge into a powerful debut novel, ”Sleeping  Dogs Don’t Lie.” Listen as Mike shares the origins of this spellbinding story, introducing us to a marvelous hero, Clifford Gustafson.
“A high-energy romp of a story peopled with memorable and original characters and a lively dose of murder and mystery. Michael McCoy’s debut novel begs for an encore.” – Ann Hillerman, author of the award-winning Leaphorn-Chee-Manuelito mysteries
12:17 PM – nature of the dream holds much promise as a revolutionary performance arts experience. Listen as Miriam Randolph (director/producer) and Kierra Lewis (assistant director/producer) shares glimpses into this unique blend of expressive disciplines into an enlightening, bold cinematic project, done in collaboration with the Des Moines Community Playhouse and encouraged by Pyramid Theatre Company.
12:30 PM – The Des Moines Playhouse opens its second show in their current repertory schedule, “Stuart Little,” this Fri Feb 16. This show brings the magic of the Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre mission back, giving young audiences a wonderful live performance experience with one of their beloved literary characters. Playhouse Artistic Director Katy Merriman delivers delectable tidbits about this show, one for the whole family. This show will also be offered in a streaming format.
12:42 PM – After a long absence, gifted writer Marj Charlier returns with a dynamic historical novel, “The Rebel Nun.” Listen as Marj provides some peeks into this powerful story she has captured.
”Vividly imagines one of the most fascinating events to occur in sixth-century Gaul, bringing into focus the complexity of the early centuries of Western Christianity as the Church struggled to define its positions on clerical celibacy, the role of women, pre-Christian traditions, and its relationship to secular power. Scholars have long been fascinated with Gregory of Tours’s account of how a rebellion of nuns from the monastery of the Holy Cross in Poitiers supposedly resulted in acts of murder, plunder, and unplanned pregnancies. It is a moment that has been calling out for a writer to do it justice in a work of historical fiction, but which feat no one has dared to attempt — until now. Marj Charlier’s The Rebel Nun brings the sights, sounds, and smells of this event and its aftermath to life in a richly imagined story that is firmly rooted in equal parts rigorous historical research and inspired, creative imagination.” —Dorsey Armstrong, PhD, professor of English/medieval studies at Purdue University, and lecturer for The Great Courses (”The Medieval World,” ”The Black Death,” and others)
Cultural nuggets – 

  1. Check out the Month of Sundays posts at this Facebook site. Thanks to Covid Recovery Iowa, a program with a wealth of ways to help, you will find resources, inspiration and more.

Beaverdale Books offers curbside service, or delivery service. Updated hours: Sun/Mon: CLOSED; Tue – Fri: 10:00 – 5:30; Sat: 10:00 – 5:00      515-279-5400
Top Ten sellers in our store last month – see what everyone’s reading!
1. Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age, Sanjay Gupta
2. Coach Maury John’s Journey to the Pinnacle of College Hoops, Kris Kesterson*
3. California Calling, Martin McGrane*
4. Bess the Barn, Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia*
5. Classic Restaurants of Des Moines and Their Recipes, Darcy Dougherty Maulsby*
6. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy
7. The Heart Hungers for Wildness, Diane Glass*
8. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson
9. A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection, Steve Martin
10. This Is Your Time, Ruby Bridges
*Iowa Author!
Ongoing conversations with Callista Gould always deliver useful information. So much any merging or established professional could use is in her book, which, as she says, is “Best. Graduation Gift. Ever.” The book, The Exceptional Professional: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Career, is the perfect gift for that graduating daughter, son, grandchild, niece, nephew or good friend’s or neighbor’s child who never writes a thank you note. Check out to get a copy for someone you care about.
PERFORMING & VISUAL ARTS plus Other Cultural Consideration
Please check in advance regarding any scheduled performances, exhibitions, museum visits, etc.
Ankeny Community Theatre –; Facebook: Ankeny Community Theatre
Carousel Theatre of Indianola –; Facebook: Carousel Theatre Indianola
Class Act Productions –; Facebook: CAPTheatre
Des Moines Community Playhouse/Kate Goldman Theatre –; Facebook: DMPlayhouse
Des Moines Performing Arts/Temple Theater –; Facebook: Des Moines Performing Arts
Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre –; Facebook: DM Young Artists Theatre
Iowa Shakespeare Experience –; Facebook: Iowa Shakespeare Experience
Iowa Stage Theatre Company –; Facebook: Iowa Stage Theatre Company
Pyramid Theatre Company –; Facebook: Pyramid Theatre Company
Tallgrass Theatre Company –; Facebook: Tallgrass Theatre Company
TheatreMidwest –; Facebook: TheatreMidwest
Urbandale Community Theatre –; Facebook: Urbandale Community Theatre

  1. Des Moines Community Playhouse. Check their audition page regularly for upcoming opportunities at
  2. Iowa Stage Theatre Company. You can add your name to their audition notice list at
  3. Theatre Midwest. Check their audition page regularly for upcoming opportunities at
  4. Des Moines Young Artists Theatre. Check their audition page regularly for upcoming opportunities at

Cultural Engagement Opportunities:
Check with galleries, organizations, destinations you frequented before the pandemic. Many are producing creative and unique ways to engage again…get your cultural fix.

  1. Nocé has instigated strict COVID protocols while launching live music at its destination-worthy venue – check out the schedule and find a time to savor the sublime setting and national-caliber music.
  2. Civic Music Association announces its 2020-2021 Season. Check it out.
  3. The Des Moines Symphony will present an appealing series of concert experiences. Check for details.

Greater Des Moines Independent Book Store Happenings:
The Culture Buzz shares many authors and their books with its audiences. We encourage you to visit your local independent book store regularly. The folks at these destination locations know books, and welcome the chance to help anyone connect with titles and subjects they seek. Check these sites, as their calendars are always filled with enticing activities and news.

  1. Beaverdale Books, Des Moines.
  2. Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola.
  3. Artisan Gallery 218, 218-5th Street, Historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines (select author events),
  4. Read a Book Nook, Marshalltown.
  5. Book Vault, Oskaloosa.
  6. Prairie Lights Books & Cafe, Iowa City.

Cultural Exploration Resources:
The Culture Buzz will begin including carefully vetted but comprehensive listings where you can do some advance online exploration before scheduling destinations in the region. These are two great websites to know about:

  1. The Culture Buzz – John Busbee and associates encourage cultural adventures with a comprehensive overview of what The Culture Buzz delivers. Included is an archive library of favorite interviews.
  2. Center Stage – This Cityview monthly column provides insights into Central Iowa’s theatre. Distributed throughout the region and available online. Current column:
  3. Cityview – Central Iowa’s monthly printed and continually updated online resource to all things happening in your community, from arts & culture, to music, to civic and political discourse, to fascinating columnists and stories. Cityview is the reliable source for keeping you informed and engaged in the Greater Des Moines community and beyond.
  4. dsm Magazine – Central Iowa’s gateway to arts, culture and more in a stunning, visual format. dsm’s CultureCast podcast features interviews with cultural leaders, artists and musicians.
  5. ia Magazine – Built upon the success of its Central Iowa counterpart, this annual gem brings enticing cultural news from across the state.
  6. Art Beacon Des Moines is Central Iowa’s home for promoting the visual arts. Our calendar of events highlights exhibitions, art talks and calls for art. Subscribe to the Art Beacon Weekly, our online newsletter filled with links to the latest art happenings. Find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  7. 900Views Podcast. An exploration of arts and community with Host Pat Boddy. Based out of Mainframe Studios in downtown Des Moines, 900Views provides a platform for glimpsing the creative work and lives of the Midwest’s cultural producers and influencers.
  8. Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center is this region’s source for a decades-established advocacy group for jazz, and established jazz professionals guiding and nurturing next generations of jazz musicians and fans.
  9. Central Iowa Blues Society is the area’s connecting point for performance, presentations and education in the world of blues.
  10. Bryan Farland, for many years, single handedly puts together the most comprehensive list of live and streaming music in Iowa. Bryan reaches out two ways, and

Resources to help, support and guide during any challenges you or someone you care about may be experiencing:
COVID Iowa Recovery: 800-775-9276

  •  1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or
    United Way 211: Dial 211, text ZIP code to 898211 or visit
    CICIL: #CICILServes COVID-19 Hotline: (866) 44-CICIL
    Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
    LGBT National Youth Talkline: (800) 246-7743
    LGBT National Talkline: (888) 843-4564
    Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center:
    Broadlawns 24/7 Crisis Team: (515) 282-5752
    Your Life Iowa Help Line: (855) 581-8111
    Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
    Broadlawns Psychiatric Urgent Care: (515) 282-2200
    Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to be connected to crisis counseling
    Online Mental Health Crisis Chat:
    MercyOne Des Moines Behavioral Health Clinic: 515-643-9030.
    Prelude Behavioral Services (substance treatment): 515-262-0349

As always, I appreciate news and information from you out there in the cultural trenches and am ready and willing to pursue a story or interview to share with my audiences. ♦

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