What crazy crop is this, defying the uniformly green fields of corn and soybeans? It's gardening art, in the 2018 issue of ia magazine.


Party! Party! PARTY!!! There, now that we have your attention, we hope you can join us for a special event—
the unveiling of our annual statewide magazine, ia. We'll have free copies of the magazine for each of you at a reception Tuesday, Oct. 3, hosted by Wells Fargo Museum, downtown at 666 Walnut Ave. As with dsm unveilings, from 5 to 7 p.m. we'll enjoy hors d'oeuvres and beverages, fine company and interesting surroundings. And we'll reveal the new issue at 6 p.m. during brief remarks by Gov. Kim Reynolds. You'll also enjoy a performance by Ballet Des Moines. We sincerely hope you can join us.

In Progress: Drake Craftsman House Bedroom Remodel, Kitchen Expansion & Addition!
Talk about a total makeover! 1920s Craftsman gets the full treatment: master bath addition and kitchen expansion with a cozy sitting area around the fireplace. Relocating the laundry area to the main floor, adding a mudroom AND going outdoors to create a larger pool deck. ... Read more »


Kelly Marie Schaefer and Jonathan deLima play a married coupleand karate sparring partnersin "Company" at the Social Club.


Reviewed by Michael Morain

“Company” isn’t the easiest show the new Iowa Stage Theatre Co. could have chosen for its debut at the
Des Moines Social Club. The nontraditional musical tells a nonlinear story with a tough, non-sentimental score
by Stephen Sondheim.

But its focus on the mysteries of marriage make it a fitting choice for the group that emerged from the recent merger of StageWest and the Repertory Theater of Iowa, an arranged marriage prompted more by financial constraints than love.

“Company” itself was written in 1970it’s just three years shy of its 50th anniversaryand there’s still not much
to the story. “A man with no emotional commitments reassesses his life on his 35th birthday by reviewing his relationships with his married acquaintances and his girlfriends. That is the entire plot,” according to Sondheim’s own words in his 2010 book, “Finishing the Hat.”

George Furth’s script stitches together a handful of vignettes with just a few strands of narrative thread, and Sondheim’s ambivalent music and lyrics don’t offer much emotional guidance. Your heartstrings will remain

But still, you feel for the guy. In this modern-day version, directed by Brad Dell, the main character, Robert, is played by the charismatic Charlie Reese, a good singer and great actor who seems to have cornered the local market on roles involving anxious, thirtysomething bachelors.
To read the rest of this review, click here.

Coastal Design
The word coastal invokes feelings of sun, sand and beautiful blue water. Which is why so much of coastal design is rooted in the colors of nature – neutrals, blues, and browns. But even if you don’t want to feel like you’re living on the beach ... Read more »

by Design presents dsmDining —
Heavenly Asian Cuisine and Lounge serves popular favorites as well as less familiar dishes, such as quail eggs and braised lamb.


By Wini Moranville

Specializing in food from the Gansu and Sichuan provinces, Heavenly Asian Cuisine and Lounge opened this past weekend in Valley Junction. Shirley Burke, who owns the restaurant with her parents, says their goal is to offer authentic Chinese cuisine that’s “unlike anything we’re familiar with in the Midwest.”

Judging from a preview dinner last week, they’ve hit their mark. While the menu lists familiar items such as cashew chicken and Mongolian beef, the evening’s tasting buffet presented much less familiar fare. West Lake Beef Soup reminded me vaguely of hot-and-sour soup in its cornstarch-thickened glossiness, but the fresh ingredients—including peas, diced carrots and green onions—were startlingly bright in color and pleasingly delicate in flavor.

Silk Road Big Plate Chicken brought equally bright veggies, but much bolder flavors—including a windfall of those endorphin-releasing dried red peppers. The best part of the dish: hearty, thick, wide and chewy homemade noodles that were more akin to something my Iowa farm-wife grandmother would have made than something I’ve seen in a Chinese restaurant in these parts. They were wonderful—homey and foreign at the same time.

And I’ll probably never be able to pass up the Heavenly Grilled Fish With Spicy Sauce. The platter-sized, head-on barramundi arrived in a sizzling pan of spiced broth set over a hot plate. You and your dining companions serve yourselves fleshy chunks of fish off the bone; when it’s gone, you add various ingredients to the pan—such as sliced potato, fatty lamb, tofu and dried bean curd stick—allowing these to cook in the flavorful, bone-enriched broth.

Dish after dish followed suit, bringing wholly unexpected combinations, colors and flavors. Sure, some dishes confounded me a bit (e.g., a dessert of chewy, glutinous pastel-colored rice balls in a viscous, barely-sweet rice-wine liquid), but if you go here with a crowd of friends and order a table full of food, a few less-than-cherished oddities will be part of the fun.

Burke told me that part of her motivation in opening the spot was to offer a venue where locals could take visiting business execs and dignitaries from China. She lamented the dearth of such places while working in corporate America for many years. Hence, the elevated decor: Upscale without being stuffy, it’s pleasing, playful and modern, with joyful paintings evoking scenes of the Gansu province—the homeland of Burke and her family. The two chefs hail from China as well: one from Gansu and the other from Sichuan.

Heavenly Asian Cuisine and Lounge is at 225 Fifth St., West Des Moines; 515-274-9156. Facebook: Heavenly Asian Cuisine & Lounge.

Say Paw (pictured with daughter Esther) escaped oppression in Burma, arriving in Des Moines in 2012. Photographer: Ben Easter.


We at dsm are proud of Iowa’s long history of resettling refugees, who add rich cultural diversity to our city. The state welcomed about 700 refugees over the past year, mostly from Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Nepal, Burma, Iraq and Syria.

You can learn more about refugees and ways to support them, as well as celebrate their accomplishments, at the 2017 Refugee Summit Oct. 6-7 at Mercy College of Health Sciences (928 Sixth Ave.). Friday’s programs are geared toward employers, government officials, educators, nonprofits and community members. The keynote presentations are by Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American public official in the United States, who is serving in the Minnesota House of Representatives; and by Mark Grey, director of the Iowa Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration. On Saturday, refugees are invited to learn about local services and resources.

United Way of Central Iowa and the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa are hosting the summit. Find out more and register here. To learn more about refugees and their stories, read this story from the dsm archives. To meet refugee children who inspire with their perseverance and optimism, read this story, also from the dsm archives.

Filmmaker Kristian Day, based in Iowa and California, is the Interrobang Film Festival's producer. 


The Interrobang Film Festival, a part of the Des Moines Arts Festival for 10 years, becomes an independent free event Friday through Sunday, Sept. 29–Oct. 1, at sites in the East Village. The festival opens with a reception at 6 p.m. Friday on the State Historical Museum's rooftop terrace.

The festival grew out of a “strategic planning process,” says Stephen King, executive director of the Des Moines Arts Festival. “We’re excited by the response we’ve received and look forward to again contributing in a positive way to the quality of life and culture in Des Moines.”

More than 30 films have been accepted for free screenings during the daytime and evening hours of the festival. For a synopsis of each film, click here. For a list of showtimes, click here. For general information, click here.

Moonlight is delightful, of course, but a little supplemental illumination may be helpful at the upcoming Moonlight Seed Harvest.


Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Polk County Conservation invite you to join in a moonlit evening restoring the prairie at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt. The Moonlight Seed Harvest begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30.

It sounds like fun, harvesting native prairie seed by hand to support prairie restoration projects. Afterward, participants will gather around the campfire to enjoy s'mores and celebrate the arrival of fall. This is a family-friendly event, with no experience necessary. Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes, dress for the weather and bring a headlamp or flashlight. All other equipment will be provided. Keep in mind that you will be working in the dark and walking on uneven terrain.

Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt is located at 8700 N.E. 126 Ave., Maxwell, Iowa. Volunteers must register by Thursday, Sept 28. To sign up, click here. For more information, email

Sherrill Milnes returns to his alma mater, Drake University, this week for a series of free public clinics and lectures.


Renowned operatic baritone Sherrill Milnes and his wife, soprano Maria Zouves, will present a series of free public lectures and masterclasses at Drake University on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 28 and 29. Milnes, a 1957 Drake alumnus, and Zouves last visited Drake in 2006. Highlights of their events this week include:
• A lecture and Q&A session on “The Business of Singing” at 2 p.m. Thursday.
• A voice masterclass with Milnes at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
A voice masterclass with Zouves at 2 p.m. on Friday
• A lecture, “Sherrill MilnesMy Life on Stage," at 7:30 p.m. Friday. (A reception will follow in Levitt Hall.)
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