Iowans are still spending on entertainment?
On January 21 this year, a major local news station in Des Moines aired a story stating that Central Iowans are still spending on entertainment. Wow! Really? That’s great!
As amazing as that sounds with these economic troubles, I’m not sure that fits the bill across the board. How many of you business owners can say you’re inundated with patrons?
Not that their story was inaccurate, moreover, what Iowa has gone through with flooding woes and damage as well as the arts shutting doors, I don’t see how in the world the arts could be prospering. It sure isn’t the sentiment we hear from our friends in the arts.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I did vote for “change” and am very proud of it. However, the continued stench of Washington D.C. politics and big bank slop isn’t helping to boost this economy. The horrendous proposed economic stimulus plan and the sickening status quo of pork makes me wretch. Unless, however, we all go into road construction to be prosperous, there isn’t a single aspect of this recovery plan that makes sense to Joe Blue-collar or me.
Sorry, but I could give a rat’s behind about sod on a lawn in D.C. As far as that goes, any legislator that puts pork or earmarks into a bill supposedly to save our economy should be cast out. And, unless we all stand up and say the Emperor has no clothes, we might as well bend over and bare the ride.
The Iowa Not-for-Profit Conference, Cultural Advocacy Day will be held Feb. 16-18 at the Iowa State Capitol, which is a way for non-profits to stand up and have their voices be heard. Will Gov. Culver listen?
Unfortunately with the state of Iowa’s cash flow woes I’m afraid the arts will be left on the Island of Misfit Toys this year.
I don’t know. I could be wrong. Roderick Kabel
Our online calendar is back
It’s been quite some time since we’ve had our online calendar up and running and we’ve finally found a new one. We’ve looked at new scripts to run, purchasing a calendar program as well as Google’s calendar but nothing has excited us untill now.
Over the past six months alone, our Web site has averaged 41,436 hits per month. Which is a high testament to the interest and searches for Iowa arts by Internet users.
We know that there are many other online calendars in use and still encourage everyone continue to utilize them. Yet, with our large usage we have encored in the past, we know that all of you will once again enjoy having an additional vehicle to get your message out to the masses via www.artsceneiowa.com.
As a reader, you may recall I often say, “If you build it… that doesn’t mean they will come.” Meaning, that because one has an event, and you believe it will revolutionize the world… unless Iowans know of its existence, dates and times, people will stay at home and not notice. Period.
We encourage everyone to post any arts related events such as gallery openings, music dates, classes, theater openings or anything else. Likewise, we also encourage artists to use our calendar to post their openings and receptions wherever they may held such as coffee houses, small businesses and everywhere across the state.
Just as important, don’t neglect the fact that even though your event might be off the driven path, getting the word out and as far reaching as possible is your own brand awareness that will assist with bringing in potential new audiences and creating excitement.
Do as much as you can to promote yourself. Find all of the online calendars that you can along with emailing your event to editors and entertainment writers at your local and regional publications. Roderick Kabel
Will you fall on your sword?
No matter which presidential candidate you voted for a few days ago, I want you to make yourself, and me, a promise. Take responsibility for your vote.
Here’s what gets my Superman undies in a wad. Why is it that when the chips are down the Democrats get the blame and when we’re all thriving, the Republicans get the praise? And even visa versa.
For instance, we have all heard for years how Ronald Regan’s (a good man, mind you) magnificent “trickle-down economics” is what really made Bill Clinton’s two terms prosperous for us. Likewise, when George W. Bush was in office for his two terms, every time the chips were down it was because President Clinton fouled things up for him. Who’s really screwing up the future and how is that even possible?
A great man once told me this… “every decision you make, has a consequence.” That’s, sound advice.
Well, for those of you who voted for George W. Bush for his second term, how do you feel about your voting choice? Will you fall on your sword for your decision, or have you buried your head in the sand?
But I digress. Since we now have a new president before press we did not know who won the election he will have blunders and successes. Now that your vote has been cast, will you stand behind your decision with fervor?
Alan Greenspan, recently in front of Congress, admitted that his basis for economic “strategery” for the U.S. was based on trickle-down economics and this was a “once in a century crisis.” Who’s fault was that? It was Greenspan’s and he fell on his sword in front of America.
Let’s allow our new president his own successes and his own failures and not blame the past. We need a do-over here, folks. That’s apparent. It’s time to more forward.
FROM THE EDITOR
Remember the future of the arts is in your favorite politician’s hands
With the Presidential race in full swing and political buzzwords flying faster than a speeding bullet, I stopped for a moment and asked myself: what are the two major Presidential candidates’ positions on the arts and culture?
A quick Google search later, I had my answer. Barack Obama has a two-page position on the arts and culture posted on his website. On John McCain’s website: absolutely nothing on the arts and culture.
Obama talks of the need to reinvest in arts education, and that while math and science skills are important for our children to compete in the new global context, we should also encourage the ability to think creatively which can come from a meaningful arts education.
Obama supports the creation of an “Artists Corps” of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and their communities. He supports increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Through his proposed health-care plan, he aims to make health care coverage affordable for artists. He also supports the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow artists to deduct the fair market value of their work, rather than just the costs of the materials, when they make charitable contributions.
As for McCain, my search led me to blogger CultureGrrl, a.k.a. Lee Rosenbaum, a veteran cultural journalist. She claims to have “scoured the web” trying to find McCain’s “cultural stance.”
“On this,” she says, “the celebrated POW appears to be MIA.”
Rosenbaum even searched the Republican Party platform using the keywords “arts” which brought up the word “counterparts” and “culture” which brought up “military culture,” “culture of radical terror,” “shared culture and values,” “entrenched culture of official Washington,” “entrepreneurial culture,” and “agriculture.” And none of those are the kind of culture she was searching for.
And just a few important points about McCain’s arts-related voting record: in 1999, he voted against tabling the Smith/Ashcroft Amendment the one that, if passed, would have completely eliminated funding for the NEA. In 2000, McCain supported cutting $7.3 million from the proposed budget for the NEA.
And that, we think, is enough said.
NOT FOR SALE!
Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943. Oil on canvas, 97 1/4 x 238 in (247 x 605 cm).
And, the winners are...
August brings our third annual photo contest winners and runners-ups. We again asked friends of Art Scene to assist with the judging. Each judge is from a different region of Iowa and most work in different careers in the arts from business owners to artists to a professional photographer. The judging is final, and we hope this issue gives our readers a little something different, not to mention giving Iowa photographers a vehicle to show their talent.
Now, don’t get mad at me or the judges, but you will see a few of the same winner’s names as last year. What can we say? You can’t win if you don’t enter.
All the entries submitted this year were outstanding, and choosing the winners was much too difficult.
This year, I was pleased that my picks were very close to the other judges. Last year, many of the judges chose different winners than I did. A good sign, I’d say. But this year, I’d say that maybe, just maybe, my eye for photography is getting better.
Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up. Prizes will be awarded in the next few weeks and winning entries will be posted on our Web site soon. The first place winner in each category receives one hundred bucks and the first runners-up get gift certificates from The Art Store in Des Moines (www.shoptheartstore.com).
So, if you don’t want to see the same names next year, get busy and get your photos together for the fourth annual photo contest.
I felt helpless until today
I write this on June 16, days after record flooding began across Iowa. I call Iowa City home, and in recent days I’ve seen some amazing things here. People young, old, rich, poor, students, ‘townies’ all have come together to try to protect the lifeblood of this community the University of Iowa. Despite their efforts, some buildings on the U of I campus took on water.
Hardest hit the ‘arts campus,’ that beautiful, serene stretch along the Iowa River where Hancher Auditorium, the Theatre Building, Clapp Recital Hall, and the Arts Buildings East and West are located. As of today, it’s submerged underwater.
I live right up the street from Hancher, and each day I walk down to see where the river’s at. My last trip down there well, to be honest, I cried on the way back.
I’ve spent many days glued to the wall-to-wall coverage on television, and I’ve felt physical pain at seeing images of the beautiful and one-of-a-kind National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids being bombarded by torrential floodwaters.
“What can I do to help?” I’ve asked myself. The answer hit me today: I have the ability to help spread the news.
Many artists, musicians, and arts and culture organizations around the state have been impacted by the floodwaters not just here in Iowa City. We want to tell a few of their stories (there’s too many for us to cover them all), and then, Art Scene readers, it’s up to you.
Pick up the phone and call, donate goods, services, or money. Just know that Iowa’s cultural, artistic, and historical organizations desperately need your help.
Let’s show the nation just how much arts, culture, and history mean to Iowans. Let’s give our time, our resources, and our attention to help these organizations get back on their feet and shine. Cathy Wilkie
I first met Wendell Mohr at a gallery opening for another artist in Des Moines. Wendell was a sweet, gentle man who would engage anyone with polite and intriguing conversation. At that time, I hadn’t seen his work before. But after meeting him, I made a point of seeking out his artwork.
What I saw in Wendell’s paintings was more than scenery or landscape. His watercolors, I found out later, were from memory or from bits and pieces of places he’d been and imagined. He didn’t need to necessarily sit on a hill or street with his sketchbook or canvas to create his extraordinary cityscapes, seaports, locomotives and factories… places that may have never existed.
My wife and I later made it a point to attend a gallery opening Wendell was having a few years ago at Moberg Gallery in Des Moines. We promptly acquired one of his locomotive watercolors. And today, as his whimsical train whizzes by on my dining room wall, I can’t help but be saddened by his passing, but also thrilled that I was able to meet one of my all-time favorite artists.
Feb. 25, 1926
May 25, 2008
We’ll miss you, Sir.
Once a month, Cathy Wilkie, my editor, sends articles to me prior to each issue going to press. Most often, she’ll include a little note with each article giving me a heads up on anything specific. This month I noticed a comment that made me stop and take note.
“Rod: This one almost moved me to tears. It’s a sad statement on arts advocacy in Iowa. Cathy”
Her note was about Joe Jennison’s column this month, and the unfortunate lack of Iowa supporters on Joe’s recent trip to Washington, D.C.
I must say I, too, feel for Joe. But what bewilders me even more is the fact that Joe would have gone alone no matter what. Plus, I can guarantee that he didn’t keep this trip a secret, either. So where was everyone?
Sure, the cost of an airplane ticket is outrageous, but he was there for the entire state. Furthermore, if any of you have ever met Joe you would know that his enthusiasm for the arts in general as well as the arts as a whole across the entire state is exceptional, possibly fanatic. I have never had the honor of knowing anyone who does more for the arts in Iowa than Joe Jennison.
It’s too bad it seems he was left out in the cold in D.C. when he was out there fighting for all of us.
As well, Joe was one of the leading people for February’s Cultural Advocacy Day here in Des Moines. He does more in one week than many of the people I know who say they fight for the arts. Yet, he was taken aback by the lack of support he had out in D.C.
Joe’s right. If not us, who? I encourage all of you to send Joe an email and let him know you support him and the arts in Iowa. Let him know how you can help keep the arts alive.
Art Scene has been printed by The Des Moines Register since its first issue. They have always treated us fairly and gave us the best quality printing possible. However, with the recent rising gas prices to the apparent fall of our economy, The Register has asked us to make a change to our publication.
In recent years, The Register has been able to make small adjustments to our publication in an effort to not raise our printing costs, that most of you probably haven’t noticed. But we’re going to make a change in the coming month, that you will notice.
Newsprint and paper prices have risen right along with every other commodity we see on a daily basis. And, we will change our publication size in our own effort to avoid the need to pass along higher advertising rates to our committed and adored advertisers.
Furthermore, we have heard from a few of our readers over the years that they wished Art Scene was printed on a slick and glossy paper. Me too. But I must tell you, we deliberately chose newsprint in the beginning to ensure that our pricing for advertising had the most value possible.
Hence, in 2008 we have actually lowered our advertising rates by 20-25 percent. And now in order to ensure we hold true to our new pricing, we’ll make a change to our size.
Most of you won’t notice too, much, but we wanted to take a moment to let you know. And to those naysayers, someday we just might be able to be a “real” slick and glossy magazine. For now, we’ll stay as affordable as possible.
I love the arts, but I love motorcycles, too!
If you’ve been a reader of this publication for very long, you might have caught on to my affection for motorcycles. Hence, our cover story July, 2006, about outlaw bikers and their influence on famed artist, David Mann.
Well, I’m thrilled to tell you that we’ve created a new publication dedicated to my other passion, titled Throttler Motorcycle Magazine.
Throttler, debuting this spring, will be a publication dedicated to motorcycles and the people who ride them. From Harley-Davidson and Buell to custom built to Victory to Yamaha to Kawasaki to Suzuki, Throttler will be Iowa’s premiere publication of its kind.
It will have feature stories that explore the issues impacting Iowa riders, and unparalleled coverage of the dozens of rallies and events across the state each year. Throttler will be the motorcycle source to turn to in Iowa.
We’ll have accurate and up-to-date information on developments and trends in cycling, much akin what Art Scene does with arts in Iowa. We’re serious about giving Iowa riders and readers the finest publication of its type, loaded with professionally-written stories, high-quality photographs, and information they can use.
Throttler will feature four distinct categories throughout each publication: Harley-Davidson/custom-built, all brands of cruisers, all brands of street bikes, and all brands of dirt/motocross.
We hope some of you might be motorcycle lovers, too, and will embrace Throttler the same way you have Art Scene. Drop us a note if you have any interest, or if you might know of subject matter, or even a place we can drop it off once a month.
Ride hard, and make your mark. Roderick Kabel
“Creative Arts Economic Stimulus Package”
Some of you may have noticed a little change in our look. Every year or two I like to change our design for a fresh new feeling, without coloring outside the lines too much. And, as you can see, our pages are quite a bit cleaner with larger photos. We hope you approve.
Likewise every year or so, I like to throw a wrench into the works to mix it up a little. But this year, I tossed in the entire toolbox. What did I do? I lowered yes, you read correctly lowered our advertising rates by 20-25 percent!
I like to call it our “Creative Arts Economic Stimulus Package.” And I didn’t even need the House and the Senate to debate for weeks over this decision.
In the days of bankruptcies, foreclosures, failing businesses and an overall economic drop in about every industry, the arts can also experience economic woes. The fact is, just because the cost of living goes up, and the economy is swirling down the crapper, the arts, in every facet, are important to our sanity and to our lives.
As a business, organization, event organizer, or entrepreneur, people take the utmost care in planning where their promotional dollars go. After all, making the proper advertising investment helps assure that their business will continue to prosper and grow.
Art Scene is one of those investments that will help those in the arts succeed. And this is our own way of making an effort to stimulate the arts instead of raising our rates as most publications will do in 2008. We hope you approve.
Art theft 101
We recently received correspondence from Iowa artist Suzanne Stryker, and what she had to say shocked us.
“I need your help in catching the thief of my artwork,” she pleads.
It seems that Ms. Stryker, whose paintings were on exhibit at Entrée Café Gallery in Fairfield, has been struck by lightning twice a thief has stolen two of her ‘babies,’ as she refers to them.
“Normally, paintings aren’t stolen until the artist is dead and the painting is worth a few million!” she says. “The paintings were uninsured. This was an unusual crime the first time it happened, and certainly the second time. I feel slapped, yet deeply complimented, twice!”
The first painting is a colorful abstract acrylic painting about 14 x 16 inches, valued at $500. The second is a watercolor of a peach and red peony, measuring 10 x 12 inches, valued at $200. Images of the paintings can be seen at her Web site, www.paintyoga.com.
Her theory is that the thief isn’t a local. In a town of 10,000, she says that it would be hard for the thief to display or sell the paintings without them being recognized. She is pleading for the thief to return the paintings.
“I am not trying to trick the thief,” she says. “I want him/her to know that I will drop the charges if he/she returns the paintings just mail the paintings to Entrée Gallery, 203 West Broadway, Fairfield, IA 52556.
What she’s wondering, though, is why did the thief choose one of the paintings over a nearby, more traditional oil painting that was priced twice as high.
“Was this due to personal preference or professional incompetence? Art Theft 101 would tell you to steal the most valuable paintings,” she jokes.
We’re glad to see that Ms. Stryker, besides having a big heart by offering to wait to file charges, is maintaining her sense of humor throughout the experience.
To be, or not to be
Growing up in a small community, I was unsure that the rest of the world had any idea my small town was even on a U.S. map. The only certainty there was is the fact that the whole town was pretty conservative. ‘Conservative’ in a small town doesn’t always mean you’re a Republican. ‘Conservative’ means you wouldn’t pay over five bucks for a movie, and next year you might put down a little less herbicide.
It wasn’t until the last ten years that I started to examine my political heritage and future. Specifically, why I was what I was as far as the political party I agreed with and followed.
Simply put, I was what I was because that’s what my parents were, and I never took the time to educate myself with the differences between Democrats, Republicans and the other parties.
With the Iowa caucuses right around the corner and our presidential election a year from now, I thought I might assist our readers a little with some Web surfing. Now, I’m not one to use this publication as my bully pulpit for personal issues, but it makes sense that at the very least, I use it for a little more education.
Right is a list of the current candidates applying for our votes. No matter what political party you feel the strongest toward at this moment, take a minute to peruse their Web sites and get a feel for who they are.
We will have a new president. Will you be able to say you voted for “them?”
For a complete list of other parties go to our Web site and click on the “Pull Your Lever 2008” link at the top.
Fairfield has come of age
This month, editor/writer Cathy Wilkie explored Fairfield, their 1st Fridays Art Walk and the many facets of the landscape there. She perused the abundant galleries in the downtown square, and stepped the scores of hidden alley gems they offer. What she saw was a budding small Iowa town that casts a shadow across this state like they were a gigantic metropolis.
Personally, I’ve been there twice. The first by mistake (I was lost on the way to Keokuk), and the other in February during an Art Walk. Even though it was the dead of winter, the flowing hot chocolate kept my family warm enough to go through each and every gallery we possibly could. Besides, ending the night at George’s Pizza Restaurant filled our bellies and reminded us of the charming comforts of my own hometown, Manchester.
Fairfield was the first community to open up their eyes and arms to Art Scene. That’s also when I met my good friends Bill and Janet Teeple and Stacey Hurlin. They exuded the proverbial artistic open-mindedness that makes a person gravitate towards them. They opened up their town to us, and have been some of our biggest supporters to this day. They see art as an essential part of the quality of life just as gardening, bike riding, swimming, or sports seem to others. It’s what makes them feel whole, like the myriad of other artists and galleries in Fairfield. They feel that a creative community is a life well worth pursuing.
Now it’s time again for me to trek my family down highways 163 to 23 to 149 and to 34 (now you know the way from Des Moines). Especially, now that we can experience the new Fairfield Art and Convention Center and the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. And, of course, we’ll hit George’s Pizza Restaurant again Canadian bacon, sauerkraut, sweet peppers, and half with pineapple. (My kids don’t think pineapple should be on pizza).
The other day I received a phone call from a nice lady residing in St. Louis. She was asking where she could find Art Scene in her area. She and her husband had recently been on the Grant Wood scenic tour around Iowa and spotted Art Scene at a gallery in Cedar Rapids.
They had enjoyed their fourth year touring the Grant Wood hot spots and wanted to keep up with what’s going on in Iowa’s cultural landscape. So now, she’s a subscriber.
And here’s another fine fella:
“Dear Mr. Roderick Kabel,
I have been perusing your PDF versions of Art Scene on the Web and I would like to subscribe to the magazine. My wife, Anita Gilbert, and I are artists returning to Iowa after nearly 30 years of traveling and working mostly in Africa. We are setting up a studio in Spencer, Iowa. Your magazine provides the most definitive description of the arts in Iowa and we would like to use it as our guide to the arts in Iowa. Please let me know how I complete my subscription by making a payment.
Anthony Vodraska, Spencer, Iowa
And to this, I say Thank You. Thank you to our loyal advertisers whom continue to place their trust in us for their marketing needs as well as our numerous new advertisers looking at the best vehicle for making Iowans aware that there are more and more exciting businesses and places to explore here.
As well, a big Thank You to our readers. Without you we would be just another general interest publication cluttering up entryways and counters. And as you know yourself, that, we are not. Roderick Kabel
Grant Wood revisited
Year after year, I’m astounded to see the new ways Grant Wood has shaped America’s vision of the Midwestern landscape. His view of Iowa will forever be the quintessential visual reference to our way of life here.
This month, Emily Grosvenor writes about the many places to see Wood’s lasting legacy. Trips to Eldon, Anamosa, Stone City, and Cedar Rapids yield personal glimpses into Wood’s life something that not many of us can say we’ve experienced. However, each year, Wood enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to these ‘shrines,’ keeping Wood at the forefront of the art world, and remembered as one of art history’s masters.
One location I will personally trek to is Wood’s Cedar Rapids studio, 5 Turner Alley. Close to downtown Cedar Rapids, 5 Turner Alley is owned and operated by the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which houses the world’s largest collection of his works. The studio, which has been under renovation since February 2006, is more than just a place Wood lived. It was in this studio that Wood painted one of the world’s most famous works of art American Gothic.
There, one can peer out the very same windows he did though the view has changed dramatically over the years and get a sense of what it may have been like to be him. Many artists can identify with this feeling as they sit in their own studios, brooding over the next brush stroke, or pondering the meaning of life.
Imagine, just imagine, the what-ifs: will art fans make the pilgrimage to your studio? Will they pass through your town to see what all the excitement is about?
Thanks for reading.
Once again, Snap Decisions
August brings our second annual photo contests winners and runner ups. We asked seven friends of Art Scene to assist with the judging. Each judge was from a different region of Iowa and most work in different careers in the arts. From business owners to artists to a professional photographer and even the wife of a publisher. The judging is final and we hope this issue gives our readers a little something different. Not to mention giving Iowa photographers a vehicle to show their talent.
All of the entries submitted this year were outstanding making choosing the winners much too difficult.
Last year, I was surprised that my picks were so very different than the other judges. This year, many of the judges choose a lot of the same entries for winners, though. A good sign, I’d say. And maybe, just maybe, my eye for photography is getting better as well.
Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up. Prizes will be awarded in the next few weeks and winning entries will be posted on our Web site soon. The First Place winner in each category will receive one hundred bucks and First Runners-up will get gift certificates from The Art Store in Des Moines (www.shoptheartstore.com).
Maybe some of you have seen recent ads in Art Scene and around the state for our open position for a qualified advertising sales person. Well, we found one. Her, that is. Miranda Perdue has joined our team and has come out of the gate with both barrels blazing.
In one week’s time Miranda has made more progress than we could have hoped for. Wished for. Or, prayed for.
She as the illustrious words of Jimmy J.J. Walker says is DY-NO-MITE!
Cathy... is a culture-holic!
As a teenager in 1980s small-town Iowa Falls, I was literally starved for culture. The closest cities to me hinted that there was more, but my eyes opened wide as to how much culture there really is in Iowa when I moved to Des Moines to attend Grand View College.
At GVC, I hung with the students on my end of the campus the theatre people, the radio/TV gang, and the artists. There were performances and art shows to attend; there was always something going on in Des Moines. I loved it. I was in culture heaven. I even found my own ‘art’ there photography.
After college, I spent time photographing local musicians Larry Myer, The Mighty Plastisols, Jack Gallup, Dogtown and after kicking around Iowa for awhile, I landed in Iowa City, working for the (now defunct) alternative-weekly newspaper, the Icon, as office manager and calendar editor.
For a small-town wide-eyed gal like me, the sheer amount of calendar listings boggled me. It became my weekly itinerary: bands, gallery openings, readings by nationally-known writers… it was an incredible abundance of culture.
But how, I wondered, did these artists, musicians, and writers make money practicing their art?
In retrospect, I think I would’ve become a freelance writer sooner if someone would’ve taught me the business of being a writer. Instead, I’ve taken a lot of hard knocks as I’ve stumbled along the path to being an independent ‘artist.’
In the end, it’s paid off I get to combine my love of writing and my love of culture and now I’m in a position to do what I wish someone would’ve done for me: show that it’s realistic to make money with your ‘art.’
With that in mind, this issue is about arts as a business, featuring sage advice from veteran artists and profiles of Iowa’s young movers and shakers in the art world. They’re a savvy, dedicated bunch, and they prove that having big dreams, and sometimes a solid business plan, can pay off in the end. Cathy Wilkie
The world’s largest tenderloin?
While listening to CNN’s Pipeline internet broadcast the other day, I heard the word ‘Iowa’ mentioned. My ears perked up: the word ‘Iowa,’ I just knew, would be followed up by a political candidate’s brief stop here and their moronic attempt to ‘be one of us.’
Instead, I heard a Budget Travel’s reporter, Erik Torkells, being interviewed about his recent road trip through Iowa.
Torkells went on and on… and on, about how wonderful his trip to Iowa was. The great people he met, the demolition derbies, our small town courthouses, Pella, Sioux City, Fairfield, Jefferson’s Bell Tower Festival, Marshalltown, Gladbrook’s Matchstick Marvels museum and Smitty’s king tenderloin in Des Moines.
This is exactly what we need in a time when Iowa is getting little media attention aside from the upcoming elections. It’s bad enough that late night television
fodder consists of nothing but bad jokes about Iowa.
Check out this excerpt from Torkells:
“Then we go to the drive-in (which has also since closed, the way drive-ins tend to do). It's only my second drive-in ever, and I'm so excited by the prospect that I agree to see Cars while sitting in a car, even after we sat in a car all day.
We arrive early, and it's like a John Mellencamp song. Kids are playing catch in front of the screen, Eddie Money’s Baby Hold On is blaring out of the speakers, and the sunset is so pretty it looks like God has taken up airbrushing. Just when the quintessential midsummer night can't get any better, a big bug drifts down between us. We start to spaz out, and it lights up. I'm in Iowa, and it's heaven.”
Thank you, Mr. Torkells, for getting us Iowans ‘right.’
Go to www.budgettravelonline.com and type in Iowa to read Stop and Smell the King Tenderloin. Roderick Kabel
P.S. The World’s Largest Pork Tenderloin is actually at the St. Olaf Tap in St. Olaf, Iowa. I could only eat half myself. It’s ginormous!
Snap Decisions, deux
Art Scene is accepting entries for our second annual “Snap Decisions” photo contest. This is an open competition; no distinction will be made between professional and amateur photographers. I’m excited to say we’re already getting submissions.
The top three photos in each category will appear in print in our August issue. There will be a $100 prize given to the top photo in each of the five categories, and gift certificates to The Art Store in Des Moines will be awarded to the two runners-up in each category.
Entries must be submitted via email by 5 p.m., June 30. Only one entry per photographer is allowed in each category. Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The categories are:
• DEADLINE NEWS: A news photo or series of photos that shows a breaking news event, such as (but not only) crime, accidents, fires, arrests.
• SCENIC: Landscape scenery which may or may not include people or animals as a secondary emphasis.
• WILDLIFE: Photos with their principal subject of one or more animal, plants or insects.
• ARTISTIC: A photo that shows the creative side of the photographer, with any subject. (Photos may be manipulated with a computer in this category ONLY.)
• PEOPLE: A photo that has as its principal emphasis one or more persons, including individual portraits.
• BASIC RULES: The photo must be taken by the person who submits it, and he or she agrees that photos submitted may be published in Art Scene LLC, and on our Web site without compensation. As a condition of submission, the contestant affirms that he or she owns full rights to the photo.
• CONTESTANTS WILL RETAIN FULL RIGHTS TO THE IMAGE AFTER THE CONTEST.
For the complete rules and guidelines, please go to our Web site and click the link for the contest.
Ode to Meghan
Some time ago, I was contacted by a writer in Dubuque looking for work. She had the credentials, the connections as well, and the spirit I enjoy. There wasn’t much writing I could assign her at the time but, I very much enjoyed her previous work.
A close friend, Brice Johnson, publisher of the “Original” VUE365 newspaper in Dubuque, had already published a few of her articles and as I perused his past issues of the VUE365, this inquiring writer’s name kept popping up. My intrigue with her and her writings grew immensely.
Her first article that caught my eye was about the National Geographic photographer, Louie Psihoyos many of you should remember the article in Art Scene with Louie’s photo of Hunter S. Thompson on the cover.
The second article of hers that caught my eye was about comic book artists living in Iowa. Specifically, Phill Hester who lives in North English many of you should remember the article in last month’s Art Scene with the superhero on the cover.
As one can tell, writing and journalism has no time limit. Hence, why we re-published two stories from Dubuque’s VUE365 by this writer. Her stories needed to be heard by more Iowans, and that’s just what she did. She shared with us and we shared her with you.
Unfortunately for me, I never did met her in person, but have heard many grand things about her. Sadly, I will never get to meet her, though. She passed away suddenly a few months ago.
Meghan Hackett was 23 years old, and as I’ve heard, her infectious smile touched many people. It is truly a loss to all of us, and to her family, her fiance Jeff, to Dubuque, Dubuque’s Young Professionals Network, and last, but not least, Iowa.
However, her pen will be timeless. Roderick Kabel
Giving is falling out of style
According to Giving USA, a non-profit group that studies philanthropy, last year in the United States donations to cultural groups accounted for 5.2 percent of individual philanthropy, down from 8.1 percent a decade earlier.
And although 83 percent of adult Americans say they have contributed to a charity during the past 12 months, the Chronicle of Philanthropy says that donors were more likely to give that money to religious charities (35 percent), followed by groups that seek to curb hunger (34 percent), and organizations that deal with health issues (31 percent).
Now then, we can continue to pound the desks of our legislators, fighting over the dwindling funding, grant, and philanthropy crumbs available to arts and culture organizations, or we can start looking into alternative methods to fulfill our promise to future generations.
Let’s face it, when competition for dollars is between God, starving children, or $50,000 for a Wagnerian opera, it becomes quite obvious that the arts can no longer compete. It then becomes not a question of can we afford it, but rather how can we achieve the same illusion without spending the money. It is possible to get on with less, much less than we are, if we start looking at ourselves as partners with the business industry, rather than victims of a system that doesn’t understand our worth.
The answer is, of course, all around us in our cities, counties, and neighborhoods: partnerships.
Remember, it doesn’t cost millions of dollars to create great art. And, I can honestly guarantee you that the arts will survive, regardless of the size of our museums, concert halls, and annual budgets.
Let’s stop whining. There’s too much work to be done.
Change is a good thing
Yes, we said that the exhibition scene would return this month, but it will not. Sorry. What we should have told you last month is that we’re actually eliminating the exhibition scene. For a good reason, though more editorial. Trust me. Change is good, right?
Likewise, I’d like to remind you that we have an online calendar (that’s free to everyone) and most of Iowa’s exhibitions are already there. Many people are entering their entire year’s worth of events and happenings, too. So for those that will miss our exhibitions, please check out our online calendar to keep yourself abreast of what’s happening across Iowa.
And along with this change, we’re doing a little sprucing up on our cover and inside pages. Just a little. We’re taking our time and making a few
aesthetic changes that we think are beneficial and they just look darn
pretty. Besides, change is a good thing, right.
On to this month’s cover story. Andrew Brink brings us a glimpse into Des Moines’ theater world. Surprisingly to me with Des Moines’ large population one would assume that its’ theater scene is as large as its’ vibrato. However, as Andrew points out, there are numerous aspects to being an actor that many of us don’t realize exist. Such as Joseph Leonardi points out, “At times, there can be little to sustain us.” Which makes a person wonder if this is true throughout our state. Needless to say, it’s tough out there all over.
Oh! I almost forgot. For those of you who have missed our weekly newsletter Culture Flash, it’s coming back soon. Are you signed up? Roderick Kabel
Six, seven, eight…
Degrees of degeneration
When I started my career in publishing as a newspaper graphic designer, one of the first ads I created was your run-of-the-mill ad for a local business. But what made it a little special for me was that this ad was for a new microbrewery that had just opened in downtown Des Moines.
I remember the day when I joyfully wandered oer’ to my new watering hole. What sweet aromas, thou hast. Moreover, with this new brewery came some of the hippest names of beer I had ever heard, and along with these names came just as astonishing logoscool logos, larger than life and plastered onto the walls. The microbrewery sensation had just literally blasted onto the national scene with a one-two punch in the face.
So, upon looking through the ad specs and ad materials given to me, I noticed a matchbook. A matchbook with the brewery’s signature logo and colors on it. It was cool. But to be able to create this ad that I so wanted to be proud of, I needed more than a mere matchbook for artwork.
Off I naively went to my sales rep to ask for a better sample of the logowhich, to my surprise was all there was. Not even a menu to scan. Or a napkin I pondered a minute. Then two, about how I could obtain a better quality logo on which to build my ad.
Then it dawned on me that this logo had to be created by someone, somewhere. It wasn’t a miraculous conception that just appeared on the side of the brewery’s building. It did exist… I knew it.
Thus, after a little coaxing of my sales rep, I convinced her to ask the brewery manager for a digital version of the logo. Within a few hours a disk arrived with the logo. Shortly after that, my wondrous ad was printed and out the door to the client. There was much rejoicing.
I was in that same brewery a few weeks ago and noticed a poster they had hung on the bathroom wall. What caught my eye was that their logo was so badly bitmappedon their own poster!that I could hardly read it. I was appalled.
I thought, what in the world has become of this place? And it jolted me right back to the dilemmas that I deal with and have dealt with during my many years as a graphic artist:
Where is the original art? What? You want me to take WHAT from your Web site? And create an ad?
What I’ve seen over the past decade is a degeneration of graphic logos. Sure, there’s plenty of designers out there creating kick-ass logos. But what happens to them when it’s sold to their client? Think about it.
The artist drops off his or her disk to the business owner, who gives it to the manager, who then sends it to Mr. Fast Print for business cards and any other materials needed. Then, Joe Manager forgets to ask for the disk back from the printer. So when Bill the Owner gets hit up for advertising, the original digital logo has gone missing. Now, little Miss Katie Graphic Designer has to scan a matchbook to recreate Bill’s logo for his ad.
Plus, let’s not forget the variable of employee turnover. Can you imagine how many businesses have either fired or lost employees who were the only people who knew anything about the whereabouts of original logo artwork? Or, for that matter, who the hell created it for them in the first place? Logos can cost a lot of money, too!
Subsequently, here we are in a continuous cycle of creating and recreating. It’s not fun. I truly believe that we need to take better care of the graphic design aspects of the world as much as we cherish the finer arts.
So, please do yourself and Miss Katie Graphic Designer a favor. Keep a digital record of your logo that can be easily accessed and passed out to those who need it. Make it 300 DPI, high resolution and, for gawd’s sake, stop telling people to get logos from your Web site.
I didn’t know Mo Dana all that well. I wish I would have, though. The former executive director of the nationally ranked annual Des Moines Arts Festival (it ranked 4th in the U.S. this year) died Nov. 9, after an eight-month battle with cancer.
Early on, when Art Scene was just forming, I would often hear in artist circles that Mo wasn’t well liked. At the time I didn’t quite understand it. But I would soon enough.
It was always artists who grumbled about how the Des Moines Arts Festival didn’t allow enough Iowa artists into the event. And more often than not, fingers were pointed directly at Mo for being the culprit. It seemed that the proverbial conspiracy theorists actually believed Mo was so powerful that she could blacklist Iowa artists from being admitted into the festival.
That’s when I became more interested in Mo. I thought, “How in the world can one woman do this?” So, off I went, pen in hand, to confront Mo and break the story that it was trueMo didn’t like Iowan artists.
Anyone who met Mo, as I was able to do that day, realized quickly that hers was not a personality to take lightly. Although she presented herself as a hard-hitting, go-getter, underneath it all was an enormously likable person. Her smile set you at ease.
I got right to the point: “Mo, why won’t you allow Iowan artists into the Des Moines Art Festival?” And with a small shake of her head, she sat back in her chair and explained, very simply, that I was misinformed.
She had been given a job to do by the City of Des Moines, she said. That job was to re-invent Des Moines’ Art in the Park festival into an event of national caliberand she did. Much to her surprise, she took a lot of grief for her efforts from artists themselvesgrief that she shouldered year after year, knowing that the greater good emanating from the success of the Des Moines Arts Festival outweighed such unconstructive behavior.
At the festival’s conception, it immediately seemed that local and Iowa artists expected to be included. Well, why not? The name was the Des Moines Art Festival, right? So why not include every artist here? Maybe the name was incorrect or misleading, but the simple fact is that Mo did the job she was asked to do. It had nothing to do with where an artist lived, and everything to do with the creation of a nationally acclaimed attraction. An artist could be from Des Moines, Florida or Timbuktu. It didn’t matter.
It’s simple, really. If some Iowa artists were not good enough to be invited to the festival, well, they were not good enough to be invited to the festival. And now, the new director, who has the honor of succeeding Mo, inherits one of the greatest art festivals in the nation, but he also must put up with cry-baby antics and badmouthing from seemingly scorned artists who feel slighted. I mean, does anyone in his right mind believe a prerequisite in the application process for the director’s job is a desire to shun Iowa artists?
Every festival has judges that blindly evaluate art, knowing only the category in which the piece falls, not where it was created. It’s simple, you see. Like every other art festival or show around the country, the judging at the Des Moines Art Festival is fair and unbiased. Nevertheless, the complaints will continue... even after Mo’s passing.
And, if I may, even though I didn’t know her well, say that Mo was one of the fairest people I’ve met. She was honest, a straight shooter, and she deserves to be remembered for what she did for Iowa. Not what for she didn’t do.
Happy Holidays. Roderick Kabel
Memorial contributions can be sent to Mercy Cancer Center, in care of The Mercy Foundation, 1111 Sixth Ave., Des Moines, IA., 50314. Please call (515) 875-4848 for more information.