Saturday, May 21, 2022

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The Culture Buzz

Greetings, Cultural Catalysts:


There is a diverse and appealing array of cultural indulgences awaiting the Cultural Adventurer in Central Iowa. Leave the personal devices behind and savor the rich offerings that performing arts, exhibitions and more offer. Sally forth and reward yourself.

Featured Cultural Offering:

Berlin Avant-Pop artist performs at Des Moines Social Club. Mary Ocher + Your Government in Des Moines on Fri May 24 at the Des Moines Social Club. Mary Ocher’s multimedia performance style includes projections and elaborate costumes. Over the last decade, she has been persistently creating passionate, uncompromising work, raw, thought provoking, socially and creatively pushing against the current, dealing with subjects of authority, identity and conflict.The concert starts at 8PM at the Kum & Go Theater, 901 Cherry Street, and costs $15 in advance and $20 day of the show. Des Moines’ malleable psychedelic artist Extravision will open the performance. This concert is featured as part of DMSC Presents, Des Moines Social Club’s carefully curated series that features local, regional, and international cutting-edge performing artists. Learn more & get tickets:

More Cultural Considerations:

1.     Silent Sky opens at the Des Moines Community Playhouse Fri May 31, and runs through JunLauren Gunderson’s 2015 play centers around the untold stories of female astronomers through the eyes of a real scientist Henrietta Leavitt, a female “computer” at Harvard College Observatory.

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Leavitt is joined by her capable co-workers at the observatory, Annie Cannon and Williamina Fleming, who were restricted from the equipment used by the males. The women were required to settle in a cramped workroom, computing and cataloging distant stars and galaxies founded by male astronomers.

This true story of the 19th-century astronomers, “Silent Sky” explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries, when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them. Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications.

2.     Iowa High School Musical Theatre Awards Mon Jun 3 at the Des Moines Performing Arts Civic Center. Feel the energy of hundreds of amazing student performers representing 77 participating Iowa high schools, as they share highlights from their award-winning school musicals!

3.     Celebration of Life at the Des Moines Community Playhouse Tue Jun 4 for one of Iowa’s great performing arts contributors, Jeanne Hopson, who took her final bow in May of this year. Come share the camaraderie the Jeanne inspired, through her steadfast dedication to the power of theatre in the lives of others. “…thank you, Jeanne Hopson, for changing my life and the lives of so many others.” -Peter Hedges, Academy Award-winning screenwriter who, while still a student in Des Moines, was one of Jeanne’s students.  

Auditions and Other Participation Opportunities:

1.     Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre auditions for the musical 13, Sat May 18, 1:00 PM. 13 features an unforgettable rock score from multiple Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges of Madison County, Parade, Last Five Years). Seeking 20 actors of all backgrounds, ages 12-15. All auditions are open to the public; no one is precast. If you are unable to attend the scheduled audition, please email David A. VanCleave to arrange an alternative time.

2.     Class Act Productions auditions for actors entering 7th grade in the fall up to age 21. Sat May 18 at 1:00 PM for the summer Shakespeare production of Much Ado About Nothing. Check our website in May for audition form to download.

3.     Art Beacon Digital Residency. Through Art Beacon’s Instagram, this advocacy and promotion group grants Iowa-connected artists and 1-2 week residency. Residents share their work and inspirations in daily posts. Artists are invited or selected from call submissions. Interested artists should contact:

Greater Des Moines Music Tip:

This addition to the weekly newsletter will be a suggested musician or band to catch. This tip is brought to you by Steve Vasquez of the Central Iowa Blues Society –, for full calendar of live music.

SpringFest #3 – Hosted by Central Iowa Blues Society and Jasper Winery Sun May 26, 2:00 PM.

Worth the Drive:

Cedar Falls – The J. Murray: Color Poem Collages 2000-2018 – The Hearst Center is announcing an upcoming exhibition, J. Murray: Color Poem Collages, on view in Dresser-Robinson gallery through Jul 7, 2019. An artist reception will be held Thursday, June 20 from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. including a gallery talk with J. Murray at 6:00 p.m.

Artist, traveler, and teacher J. Murray became enamored with poems specifically poems about color during his formative years making art and studying poetry with James Hearst. Inspired by musical harmonies, color theory and autobiography, Murray relies on scraps of paper, fabric and string to create highly structured canvases. The artist invites you to use both visual and tactile senses in the gallery; his works are meant to be picked up and read, like newspapers.

List of works include VioletRedOrangeYellowBlueBlackGrey and Brown in collage medium dating between 2000-2018.

About the Hearst Center for the Arts
The James & Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts is located at 304 West Seerley Boulevard in Cedar Falls. More information on the Hearst Center and its programs is available at, by calling the Hearst Center at (319) 273-8641, or follow us on Facebook. The Hearst Center is free and open to the public.

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.     Plot Twist Bookstore, Ankeny.

3.     Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola.

4.     Artisan Gallery 218, 218-5th Street, Historic Valley Junction, West Des Moines (select author events),

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.     Center Stage – John Busbee writes this Cityview monthly column. See what is happening on Central Iowa’s stages. Distributed throughout the region and available online.

2.     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.

3.     A Gentle Guide to Des Moines Theatre is Central Iowa’s source for knowing what productions by which companies are available when. In short, you can know what’s playing before it happens rather than after the fact. Timothy Rose created this site with its comprehensive theatre calendar for you, the cultural consumer. He includes articles and more, making this a worthy destination when curious about what’s happening in Central Iowa’s theatre scene.

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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