Filmmaker Vanessa McNeal casts a light into the murky depths of sex trafficking in Iowa.


An Iowa filmmaker's award-winning documentary about sex trafficking in Iowa will have its public premiere this evening (Tuesday, April 2) at the Des Moines Civic Center. All proceeds from the screening of the film "Gridshock" will benefit Dorothy’s House, a local facility for young victims of the crime.

Exposing disturbing realities—who the buyers and sellers are and how they remain hidden—the film was created by Vanessa McNeal, a survivor of childhood sexual violence who became a social worker as well as a filmmaker, as told in this story from dsm magazine. The 55-minute film features survivors, local and federal law enforcement, advocates, politicians, and a recovering sex addict.

Gov. Kim Reynolds is among political and law-enforcement dignitaries scheduled to attend. In addition to screening the film at 7:30 p.m., the event will feature remarks from VIP guests, exhibits of local advocacy organizations and a panel discussion with prominent members of law enforcement agencies.

"Most people don’t understand that sex trafficking is happening in our community," McNeal says. "I wanted to give the survivors a voice and bring light to this egregious crime. ... My purpose in my work is to talk about things that are difficult to talk about." She adds, "When we realize that sex trafficking is driven by the demand from buyers, the sooner we can eradicate it."

"Gridshock" has already won awards at the Mindfield LA Film Festival, scored in the top 10 percent of this year's submissions to the Utah Film Festival, and was selected for the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival.

Doors open at 7 p.m. and the premiere begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available through the Civic Center box office, online here.

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By Design presents dsmDining —

Chef Terrie Kohl's new cookbook includes recipes gathered over a lifetime, including some from her mother and grandmother.


By Wini Moranville

Chef Terrie Kohl’s life encompasses many food-related gigs: She teaches cooking classes via her home-based business, Country Club Market. She also offers baking services and catering and is a go-to food-pro about town: She has been featured on IPTV and "Iowa Ingredient," she’s been a food judge at the Iowa State Fair for almost 20 years, and she served on a judging panel for the Iowa edition of the "Great British Baking Show."

She recently added "cookbook author" to her list of culinary accomplishments. She has published "Bringing Friends & Family Back Around the Table," published through WriteBrain Custom Publishing, a corporate cousin of dsm magazine, both under the umbrella of Business Publications Corp. of Des Moines. Kohl describes the book as a legacy cookbook: It traces her food journey since childhood and includes recipes from both of her grandmothers and her mother, as well as many of her favorite contemporary recipes.

This month brings some opportunities to meet Kohl, learn more about journey, and buy a signed copy of her new book. Samples will be offered at most events.
• April 6: Starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Bake Shoppe in Windsor Heights.
• April 13: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hidden Treasures Gifts in Altoona.
• April 17:  From 6:30 to 8 p.m, Kohl will give a talk hosted by the Clive Chamber of Commerce and the Clive Library, which will include a demonstration of a signature salad and dressing. RSVP here.
• April 20: 1 to 3 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble at Jordan Creek.
• April 28: starting at 2 p.m. at Beaverdale Books.
More appearances are in the works. Follow Kohl on Facebook to find out where she’ll be next.

Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.

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Generations have been charmed by the musical comedy "Hello, Dolly!" The most recent version opens at the Civic Center next week.


Each time Broadway has said hello to "Hello, Dolly!," the show has earned a list of Tony Awards—in the original 1964 production and revivals in 1996 and 2017. That latest version scored box office records and rave reviews:
  • "Best Show of the Year." – NPR
  • "Distills the mood-elevating properties of the American musical at its giddy best." – Los Angeles Times
  • "Gorgeous." – Vogue
  • "A must-see event. A musical comedy dream." – Rolling Stone
The show's touring production comes to Des Moines next Tuesday, April 9, for a six-day run at the Civic Center through April 14. Tickets are $40–$174 at the box office or online at

Detail of artwork by Katelyn McBurney from a poster promoting the play "Gruesome Playground Injuries."


Expect both humor and horror in Iowa Stage Theatre Company's production of "Gruesome Playground Injuries" by Rajiv Joseph. The New York Times calls it "mystical, arresting, and provocatively amusing." The show opens Friday, April 5, and runs through April 14 at the Des Moines Social Club's Kum & Go Theater. 

Over the course of 30 years, the lives of the play's two characters intersect at the most bizarre intervals, leading the two childhood friends to compare scars and the physical calamities that keep drawing them together. They are played by Michael Ladell Harris and Maggie Jane Tatone, directed by Jodi Jinks.

The theater company cautions that this show is best suited to mature audiences, as it may contain depictions of violence, sexual content and sensitive topics. Ticket prices and showtimes vary. For details, click here.

The fun begins earlier with new hours starting this week at Noce Jazz Cabaret, featuring Max Wellman and other club favorites.


The hours are getting happier at downtown jazz club Noce. Beginning tomorrow—Wednesday, April 3—the club will open at 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday for a happy hour program with drink specials, live music and no cover charge.
What a great reason to leave work early!

Music will be provided from 3 to 6 p.m. by Max Wellman and a cast of guest performers. Additionally, mixologist Karli Sandos (Proof, Des Moines Social Club) has prepared a new cocktail menu. The Cheese Shop is preparing new snacks on order for Noce.

Appearances have changed over the year, but commitment to community theater remains a constant at the Des Moines Playhouse.


To celebrate its centennial, Des Moines Community Playhouse has launched the Century Club, an opportunity for patrons to support the theater with a goal to add $1 million for its endowment fund. 

The Playhouse is seeking 10,000 gifts of $100. Everyone who donates at least $100 will become a member of the Century Club, whether that payment is a single check or a five-year gift plan. Donors will receive exclusive lapel pins indicating their level of support. For details, contact the Playhouse or visit the website.

Artists Margo Nahas and Jay Vigon will share some of the flavors of their California years at Mainframe Studios Friday.


Mainframe Studios' monthly series of First Friday events has a Los Angeles vibe this week, from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 5.

Featured will be the creations of  artists Jay Vigon and Margo Nahas, who are resurrecting the popular "Made on Earth" Studio City store they owned in the '90s where every type of product was blazoned with unique characters the artists developed. Visitors will get a glimpse of personalities such as Clever Girl, Sleepy Kitty, It’s Good to be King, Pound Dog, Little Angel and Rat Dog on T-shirts, purses, Zippo lighters, patches, chairs and more. Prints and limited-edition T-shirts will be for sale.

The husband and wife team are also well known for designing famous album covers like Prince’s "Purple Rain," Van Halen’s "1984" and Fleetwood Mac’s "Tusk." Learn more from this story in dsm magazine.

Festivities include a special dinner menu by the Tangerine Food Company, music by the rock band English and, of course, over 65 artist studios to visit. 

Paintings by Mary Muller are featured through April 14 at Polk County Heritage Gallery.


Paintings by local artist Mary Muller are featured in the current exhibition at Polk County Heritage Gallery, continuing through April 18. An artist reception will be Thursday, April 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the gallery located in the Polk County public services building at 111 Court Ave.

Muller paints portraits and landscapes, which hang in Drake University Law School, Iowa State University, and private collections nationally. In her portraits, individual character is respected and preserved through her understanding of lighted form. "The application of lighted abstract forms to nature, and arranging them in balanced design has been the base from which I work," Muller notes.

The exhibition is titled "For the Love of Form" for good reason. As the artist explains: "The power of color and form becomes increasingly apparent to me because it is so influenced by the changes occurring in the atmosphere around it. I am in love with form and am especially drawn to pastel and oil because their opacity is perfect for establishing form. Portraits are a perfect vehicle for form, and I especially enjoy drawing out the inner sensitivity of the subject." 
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