Category Archives: arts festival

Favorites at the Des Moines Arts Festival – both artists in Oregon!


The quality of the crafts at the Des Moines Arts Festival continues to be very high – shame about the wet weather last weekend. But we were among the visitors walking through the mist and drizzle on Sunday afternoon.  We were particularly taken by the work of two craft artists from Oregon – gorgeous blown glass by Joshua Rodine  (Phoenix, Oregon – which I’m told is between Medford and Ashland, both places we visited during our trip there a few years ago) and gorgeous woven rugs by Kimberly Morris  of Wallowa, a place I’ve wanted to visit since last November when I met someone in Seattle who lives there. Funny thing is the weaver didn’t know her friend the glass blower was in the show – just across the downtown sculpture garden – until I mentioned I’d just bought something from him!

Solar Vase #110

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Earth-shaking art with Artquake at the Firehouse, courtesy of the DSM Social Club

We will be out of town for this event but it sounds like fun – and a good way to get a look at the new headquarters of the Des Moines Social club in the way cool old Art Deco firehouse downtown. Artquake is June 27 “featuring an explosion of local art and music.” Better than an earthquake! More details below and on the…Des Moines Social Club website

Des Moines Social Club announces Artquake, June 27 at the Firehouse

DES MOINES (June 4, 2013) – Art. Music. Illumination. Party. The Des Moines Social Club (DMSC) is proud to present Artquake, a party featuring an explosion of local art and music at the Firehouse, on Thursday, June 27 from 6-10pm. For one night, DMSC will transform the courtyard of their new home at the Firehouse into an interactive gallery to illuminate the artists and musicians creating right here in Des Moines.

Artquake will feature performances by Satellite State, D*ckweed and Tires, plus installations and live art by Van Holmgren, Asphate Woodhavet (Maxilla Blue), Body by Svec, Rachel Buse, Joe Crimmings, Lucas Moser, and Mickey Davis. Attendees will also have the opportunity to interact and participate in light painting, screen printing, stenciling and painting a collaborative mural. An extravagant illuminated light art show will accompany the music performances, setting the stage of a truly unique experience.

About the Music

Tires will headline Artquake with their energetic, danceable electronic/instrumental rock. The band has consisted of Phillip Young on guitar and electronic sound manipulations and Jordan Mayland on drums and synthesizers since its formation in 2011. Chris Marshall joined the fray as a full time member in 2012, freeing the band to round out Tires’ massive wall of sound with more deliberate focus.

D*ckweed, a new Des Moines alt-country band, will make their debut performance at Artquake. This “supergroup” features a strong lineup of Des Moines talent including Bob Nastonavich, (Pavement), Patrick Tape Fleming (Poison Control Center, Gloom Balloon), Eric Moffitt (Wolves in the Attic, Mantis Pincers), and Trent Derby (Wolves in the Attic, Volcano Boys).

Satellite State, a rock group featuring local high school students that are most well known for playing in Poison Control Center, will round out the Artquake music lineup. With influences of Wavves, Quasi, and WAXEATER, Satellite State make a rock band what it is: distorted guitar and bass, lyrics about girl(s), dorky drunk fills, and hot men!

About the Art

Local artists will showcase the process of creation to Artquake featuring:

– Van Holmgren – live painting of 3D wood piece

– Asphate Woodhavet (Maxilla Blue) – live graffiti

– Joe Crimmings and Lucas Moser – interactive light painting installation

– Mickey Davis – interactive video installaion

– Emily Svec – live Body By Svec body painting

– More to be announced


Thursday, June 27

Doors: 6:00pm, Show: 7:00pm-10:00pm


$5 at the door

All Ages
About the Des Moines Social Club

The Des Moines Social Club is a non-profit organization that provides thought-provoking theater, classes for people of all ages, promotion for local artists, and a recruiting tool for the many businesses in Downtown Des Moines. The organization’s vision is to build premier arts institutions that foster social change and revitalize cities. The Des Moines Social Club formed in 2007 and is currently located at 400 Walnut Street. Learn more at

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“Des Moines Detour” Cool Poster for June 28-30 Des Moines Arts Festival unveiled!

Des Moines Detour
by Will Armstrong

We are sorry to be missing the Des Moines Arts Festival, a juried show, which has gotten better and better over the past 20 years, with an ever expanding selection of terrific art by artists from across the country. But I may just have to get the new Arts Festival poster (the last one I got is at least 10 years old.) See:

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Eric Fischl – in Saul Steinberg mode – bringing culture to the sticks??

One of my favorite painters,  Eric Fischl  has an idea that’s both interesting and a tad condescending.  He’s organized an “America: Now and Here,” truck museum that will travel into the hinterland (i.e. outside New York City, a la Saul Steinberg’s famous New York-centric map of the U.S.) and expose us here in flyover land to art…fine art, theater, poetry, film and literature.

Six 18-wheelers filed with paintings, poetry, plays, films, and music will travel the country for two years starting in fall 2012, stopping in towns and small cities, setting up like a mini-state fair.  The organizers promise to collaborate with local artists and institutions – so that’s good.

But oddly, previews (minus the trucks) will be held in Kansas City on May 6, Detroit in July and Chicago in October.  Strange choice.  These places, two of which I’ve lived in, one of which I visit often, aren’t exactly unexposed to art (my parents ran an art gallery in suburban Detroit for 30 years.)

My guess is the art bus will eventually land in Des Moines – and I’ll eagerly go to see what it offers (I may catch it first in Kansas City or Chicago.) But Des Moines too has a lively art scene, with a fantastic contemporary art museum designed by three very famous architects (Saarinen, Pei, and Meier) and an impressive new sculpture garden downtown that grows by the month (A Keith Haring piece was recently added and  12-foot sculpture “White Ghost”  by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara will arrive next fall. It was created for an exhibit at New York’s Asia Society and purchased for $60o,000 by the Des Moines Art Center, with money donated by the remarkable John and Mary Pappajohn, Des Moines philanthropists who donated 24-plus sculptures  – valued at some $40 million – and got the sculpture park going…)

The truck museum organizers say they’re not trying to impose their big-city art on us little folks – and simply want to make the “art world” less insular (and perhaps more politically secure);  and share big league art with communities that don’t usually get such exposure and presumably broaden their horizons.  Which I’m all for.  But why not frame this more as an “exchange” of art/ideas – perhaps acknowledging that art is created in places other than New York?

Playwright Marsha Norman was quoted by the Times as saying she saw the program as a way to provide people with ways to think about America other than those offered by the media and pop culture. Then came the inevitable reference to Iowa (although it could just as well have been Kansas or North Dakota, other states often used to represent the middle-of-nowhere.)

“As much as we love Brian Williams, I don’t think he can tell us in the same way as a painter or a poet what it really feels like to live in Iowa,” Norman said.  Again, huh? Is this a reference to the local artists that will participate or to the big-name artists who will create art on-site or en route? And by the way Marsha, you may want to catch the annual “Iowa artists” show at the Des Moines Art Center that opens June 3.

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Des Moines Arts Festival – pretty impressive

It was beastly hot and humid at the Des Moines Arts Festival last night but well worth the visit. The setting – bordering the new Pappajohn Sculpture Garden downtown -, the high quality of the art, the selection of food (from my daughter’s favorite Indian DM farmers market vendors  to my son’s favorite neighborhood bbq joint), the live music (including a band that played Who songs better than the real aging Who-sters did during a recent Super Bowl performance, according to one casual critic), and the easy flow of foot traffic, made for an impressive event. And to think it’s all free of charge. A few weeks ago we paid $7 a person to go to a Chicago art fair that didn’t even have much good art (although it did have killer brats).

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