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Cover Story

2014 Summer Arts & Entertainment Guide- Art


Des Moines Art Center will have Daniel Joseph Martinez’s “From Speaker to Receiver” on display in the Anna K. Meredith Gallery from June 13 to Aug. 24.

Des Moines Art Center will have Daniel Joseph Martinez’s “From Speaker to Receiver” on display in the Anna K. Meredith Gallery from June 13 to Aug. 24.

Picasso mused that artists are children who never grow up, a metaphor encouraged by the school-like calendar on which the traditional arts keep time. As if air conditioning had never been invented, the art world still closes shop and heads for the hills and beaches at the first utterance of the phrase, “It’s not the heat; it‘s the humidity.” For centuries, summer art festivals have been held almost exclusively in resorts from Salzburg to Spoleto and Newport to Carmel. Against those winds of tradition, summer has become prime time for the fine arts in Des Moines.

With little more than the sheer force of their personalities, Maestro Robert Larsen and the late Mo Dana created two summer festivals of national repute in central Iowa’s unlikely fields of dreams. Like corn, Larsen’s Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO) thrived in heat and humidity, drawing the tassel of star singers on summer break from the cultural capitols of the world, to the silk womb of Indianola. The Des Moines Arts Festival grows every year and now fills the city’s hotels and restaurants with eager shoppers from near and far. These two festivals have persuaded itinerant artists to pitch their tents in the farm belt summer and convinced locals to support those artists with endearing enthusiasm.

Both festivals play on after their guiding muses have handed off their batons and they still define the summer arts season. DMMO’s 42nd season will feature “Le Comte Ory,” “Dead Man Walking” and “La Traviata,” from the formula of one comic, one modern and one comic opera that Larsen developed to win respect for his corn-belt company.

Barbara Fedeler’s “Near Hubbard Hill” on charcoal paper is on display at Olson-Larsen Gallery.

Barbara Fedeler’s “Near Hubbard Hill” on charcoal paper is on display at Olson-Larsen Gallery.

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa (Dec)

Together these two festivals transformed the image of summer in Des Moines while inspiring other notable festivals. ArtFest Midwest and Iowa Sculptural Festival now have followings of their own. Festivals also inspired brick-and-mortar institutions to bump up their summer programs. Des Moines’ gallery scene has grown exponentially since ArtFest began. Only Kavanaugh and Olson-Larsen galleries are still around from those days. The latter provides its annual Summer Landscape show featuring Gary Bowling, Larry Welu, Bobbie McKibbin and Barbara Fedeler.

Summer also dances in festive light at central Iowa’s main museums. The dazzling fragile glass show “Corn Zone” returns to the Figge. Brunnier Art Museum benefactor Ann Brunnier’s glass collections delights at that museum. An exhibition of Norwegian enamel comes to the Vesterheim. The Des Moines Art Center brings works of international artists to town to make sense of communications in this age of hyper communications. Ghetto blaster Jordan Weber and chronicler of American irony Tom Jackson are among eight artists showing in two exhibitions at Moberg this summer.

Des Moines Social Club kicks off its first season in its new permanent home with perhaps the widest array of artistic endeavors ever assembled under a single roof in Iowa. The city’s burgeoning metal and gem art galleries (Susan Noland, Elements and 2AU) have also been busy working with odd stones with magical properties — freaks of nature set in metals too durable to succumb.



Recurring events

Fairfield Art Walks — on the Fairfield Town Square, first Friday of the month

ISU Art Walks — on Iowa State University campus third Thursday of the month.


Special Events


Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO) 40th anniversary summer festival

Simpson College, Indianola

May 31 — “Death by Aria.” DMMO’s Apprentice Artist program kicks the season off in the lobby of the Blank Performing Arts Center with this free evening of introductions and arias by the 40 singers chosen from more than 1,000 applications, 6:30 p.m.

June 14 — Threads & Trills Costume Show and Luncheon. A sneak peek at the costumes from the upcoming season’s operas plus arias and duets sung by principal artists from each show. Lunch is included with a $40 ticket, 12 p.m., Wakonda Club.

July 16 — Stars of Tomorrow Concert. DMMO’s apprentice artists perform arias and ensembles, Sheslow Auditorium, 7 p.m., $10-$25.


Des Moines Metro Opera’s 42nd anniversary season. Single tickets $46-$92, season tickets $120-$245                 

“La Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi and Francesco Piave — A golden-hearted whore throws it all away for love in Verdi’s classic tale. Rising super star Caitlin Lynch sings the lead, opposite Mexican tenor Diego Silva; June 27 at 8 p.m.; July 4, 12 and 17 at 7:30 p.m.; June 29 and July 20 at 2 p.m.

“Dead Man Walking” by Jake Heggie and Terrance McNally — Company favorite Elise Quality (Olga in “Eugene Onegin”) returns to Iowa to reprise a role with which she has already become associated. David Adam Moore sings the condemned man’s role. Educational and political events are being staged around town; June 28 and July 8, 11, 19 at 7:30 p.m.; and July 6 at 2 p.m.

“Le Comte Ory” by Richard Strauss — Seduction and the triumph of virtue carry this tale of lust during the Crusades. International singer Taylor Stayton joins Metropolitan Opera grand prize-winner (National Council auditions) Sydney Mancasola in romantic shenanigans; July 5, 15 and 18 at 7:30 p.m.; July 13 at 2 p.m.


Iowa Sculpture Festival

June 5-8 — This annual event brings big bronze and steel art to Newton’s Maytag Park for a hands-on experiences meeting artists, picnicking, swimming and watching comedians, magicians, balloon animal-makers, etc., priced at $1 and $2.


Des Moines Arts Festival

June 27-29 — This event is grand enough to inspire copycats, critics and loyalists, plus national rankings. Last year the three-day event brought national artists of all media, plus student artists, emerging artists, performing artists, film and music to the Western Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines. Plus, there’s enough food and music to turn shopping into a mega-event and source of civic pride, and it’s free to attend.


ArtFest Midwest

June 28-29 — Piggybacking on the big shoulders of DMAF, the eighth annual “Other Art Show,” boasts lots of demonstrations (glassblowing, pastel portraits, lamp work jewelry, pottery, etc.) plus free parking and regional chauvinism. More than 220 artists will be showing, with approximately 40 percent of them from Iowa and 90 percent of them from the Midwest. The fest is now calling itself the “largest fine art show in Iowa.” It’s free to get in, and it takes over the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, June 28-29.



Art Dive

1417 Walnut St.,

Des Moines’ original alternative gallery plans to surprise you.



200 Fifth St., West Des Moines

Beach boys of Ipanema and mermaids of Tahiti mix it up with Tanzanian gems this summer.



520 Walnut St.

James Ellwanger’s new gallery features digital prints, large sculptures and much more.


Des Moines Social Club

900 Mulberry St.

Circus, wrestling, tai chi, akido, theater, belly-dancing and other acts of sociability make the club an alternative to alternative in town. As headquarters transition into the old firehouse, the club’s website is the only reliable guide.


Kavanaugh Gallery

131 Fifth St., West Des Moines,

Specializing in purchase estate collections, there’s no telling what you might find here.


Susan Noland Studio Gallery

902 42nd St.

The psychological properties of gems are front and center in this master goldsmith‘s repertoire.

Through June 15 — “Deb and Danny Cupples.” Pop Up Museum, southeast corner of downtown square, Newton, honoring the advertising specialty industry and other Jasper County businesses.

Through June 7 — Olson-Larsen Galleries 35th anniversary show. New works by every gallery represented artist, alive and dead, is a stunning reminder of how much the gallery has done for Iowa art, 203 Fifth, West Des Moines,

July 13-Aug. 16 — Annual Landscape Show. From the bright bold colors of Gary Bowling to the amazingly detailed black-and-white drawing of Barbara Fedeler, this show runs the range of landscape expression. Bobbie McKibbin and Larry Welo also exhibit.

Aug. 22-Oct. 4 — New Works by Jan Zelfer-Redmond, Priscilla Steele and Edward Avila.


Moberg Art Gallery

Thomas C. Jackson’s “Fair Riders” oil on canvas is on display at Moberg Gallery.

Thomas C. Jackson’s “Fair Riders” oil on canvas is on display at Moberg Gallery.

2921 Ingersoll Ave.

Through July 9 — Four Solos. New stuff by Heather Brammeier, John Phillip Davis, Thomas C. Jackson and Bart Vargas promises to entertain and provoke.

July 11-Oct. 22 — Four Solos. Featuring work by Frank Hansen, John Hull, Madai Taylor and Jordan Weber.


Steven Vail Fine Arts

Dario Villalba’s “DV-8 4 Mujeres 75” is on display at Steven Vail.

Dario Villalba’s “DV-8 4 Mujeres 75” is on display at Steven Vail.

500 E. Locust St.

Currently showing — “Vicious Circles.” Eclectic visions of the circle from Tara Donovan, James Siena, John Armleder, Antony Gormley, John F. Simon, Deborah Kass, Carlos Cruz-Diez, John Tremblay, Ross Bleckner, Terry Winters, Sam Gilliam, Judy Pfaff and Dzine. *APT*

Coming late June — “Conversations.” African tribal art and modern art with similar themes by: Stephen Andrews (Canadian), Dario Villalba (Spanish), Josep Guinovart (Spanish) and Antonio Saura (Spanish).


Steven Vail

118 East College St., Iowa City

Through June 9 — “Art et Archetecture.” A survey of new ideas on the subject by international stars Andre Komatsu, Guillermo Kuitca, Vito Acconci, Mathew McCaslin, Tom Slaughter, John Giorno, Ricahrd Meire, James Casaberre, Kiki Smith, Richard Tuttle, Arentony Gormley, Buckminster Fuller, Eileen Gray, Brent Westphal, Sol Lewitt and Victor Vasearely.

June 12-indefinite — “Donald Judd.” Portfolio of 18 etchings of Judd’s famous boxes from 1974.


Octagon Center for the Arts

427 Douglas Ave., Ames

Through July 13 — Catherine Reinhart (Home) Maker                 


Heritage Art Gallery

111 Court Ave.

Through June 5 — “VSA Show.” Featuring new works by youth and artists and artists with special needs.

June 9-Sept. 4 — “Iowa Exhibited.” The 29th annual juried exhibition includes a reception on June 15, 1-3 p.m.




Des Moines Art Center

4700 Grand Ave.

Ongoing — Summer classes. Day camps and family workshops, call 271-0306.

Through Sept. 21 — “Matisse: Jazz.” Title says it all, in the print gallery.

June 12-Aug. 20 — From Speaker to Receiver. Fernando Bryce (Peru), Shilpa Gupta (India), Zoe Leonard (New York), Daniel Joseph Martinez (Los Angeles), Michael Muller (Germany), Amalia Pico (Argentina/Britain), and Anri Sala (Albania) study communications in the hyper communications age.

Opening June 20 — “Nick Cave – Drive by.” A part of Channel One film series, this studies dance; and “Dancers,” featuring Winslow Homer, Robert Mapplethorpe and Henri Matisse and others from the permanent collection. 


Ankeny Art Center

1520 S.W. Ordnance Road

June 3-July 30 — “Omaha Clay Works” by Pam Douglas with a reception on June 5.

Aug. 5-Sept. 27 — Central Iowa Textile Artists.


Brunnier Museum of Art, University Museums

290 Scheman Bldg., Ames

Through July 25 — Words, Symbols and Modern Art: “The Art of China and Japan” and “Ceramic Traditions/Contemporary Design”; and “Ann’s Glass,” the collection of museum benefactor Ann Brunnier.


The Vesterheim

523 W. Water St., Decorah

Through Nov.16 — “Flora Metamorphicae.” A perpetual project created by six contemporary Norwegian ceramic artists who work in isolation to shape ceramic flowers, which, once brought together, open in a carpet of 4,000 flowers.

Through July 26 — National Exhibition of Folk-Art in the Norwegian Tradition. Exhibition of knife-making, rosemaling, weaving, and woodworking by the very best contemporary American artists working in the Norwegian tradition will be on view again next year during Nordic Fest, the last full weekend in July.


Faulconer Gallery

Grinnell College

Aug. 22 through 2015 — Scandinavian Modern Design featuring Norwegian enamel designer Grete Prytz Kittelsen.

Through June 1 — Complex Conversations: Willie Cole Sculptures and Wall Works. A look at urban archeology.

Through June 22 — “Quiet Smiles.” Political commentary from Goya to Kara Walker.


Cedar Rapids Museum of Art

410 Third Ave. S.E., Cedar Rapids

Through Sept. 7 — “Carl Van Vechten – Photographer to the Stars.” Cedar Rapids native chronicled the Harlem Renaissance.

June 14-Sept. 21 — Grant Wood: American Impressionist. Wood arrived at his “signature” mature style around 1930. In the remaining 12 years before his untimely death in 1942.


MacNider Art Museum

303 Second St. S.E., Mason City,

Through June 14 — “Sioux Lawton – Odd Notions, Uncommon Threads.” Multi media artist from Garner, Iowa.

Through Aug. 2 — 34th Annual Cerro Gordo Photo Show.


University of Iowa Memorial Union

Ongoing — Visual Classroom. A continuously changing selection of artworks from the University of Iowa Museum of Art’s extensive collections


Figge Art Museum

225 West Second St., Davenport

Through June 8 — “Corn Zone.” Glass installation by Michael Meilahn that should a delight all Iowans.

Through June 15 — Landscape featuring Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman.

Through Sept. 7 — Innovators and Legends, generations in Textiles and Fibers; and “Local Threads,” companion shows.

June 14-Sept. 14 — From Pencil to Printed Page – Arthur Geisert’s Thunderstorm. Examines this master printer and storyteller’s process from initial pencil sketches through three stages of printing states to the final hand-colored illustrations.

July 12-Nov. 2 — Two Americans in Paris: Stuart Davis and Grant Wood CV






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