dsmWeekly: May 18, 2022
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May 18, 2022

Shade comes in many forms and spring is such a great time to plan an artistic statement that is unique to your family. Add functional charm to your home with an arbor, pergola or gazebo by the award-winning designers and builders at Silent Rivers. Read more.
From left: Interpreter Peggy Chicoine with Life Interpretation Inc., Suzanna de Baca, Kate Hightshoe and Abena Sankofa Imhotep at Tuesday night's Discover Diverse Des Moines event.

Experience Some of the City's Diverse Offerings

An energetic crowd of about 250 people joined dsm last night at Discover Diverse Des Moines, where seven community leaders let us in on their favorite places to enjoy the city’s diverse offerings. Moderated by Abena Sankofa Imhotep, director of Sankofa Literary and Empowerment Group, and Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Business Publications Corp., the event also included a performance by the always dynamic Isiserettes.

The panelists’ recommendations included the performing arts (Pyramid Theatre Company, Ballet Des Moines); outdoor spaces and attractions (the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Jester Park, Dale Maffitt Reservoir); buildings (the Harkin Center), and, of course, food and dining. Some food-related highlights:

Jen Carruthers, owner of 11 Eleven Productions and president of Capital City Pride, recommended Palm’s Caribbean Cuisine, which offers curbside pop-up orders and also can be found at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market. She’s also a fan of Chu Chu Donuts (580 S.W. Ninth St.), owned and operated by Cambodian immigrants. (Read more about Palm’s in this story from the dsm archive and about Chu Chu’s in this story in the current issue.)

Tar Macias, president of Hola America, loves Monarca Gourmet Paletas (9901 University Ave., Clive). The Mexican treat is similar to a Popsicle, but “super creamy,” Tar said. His favorites are the lime paleta with a slice of lime in the middle, and the avocado paleta, one that he said “pleasantly surprised me.” When you’re at Monarca’s, be sure to take a selfie in front of the colorful mural. He also recommended La Cuscatleca South (2580 Fleur Drive), a restaurant that serves a variety of Salvadoran and Mexican-inspired dishes; try the papusas.

Tej Dhawan, strategic initiatives officer for Principal Financial Group and co-founder of Plains Angels, encouraged the crowd to think beyond butter chicken and garlic naan (though we admit we love both!) when seeking Indian cuisine. His go-to spot is India Star (5514 Douglas Ave.), which offers a variety of seafood, lamb and vegetarian specialties, among other enticing dishes.

Thanks to all who attended as well as to our panelists, who also included Michael Egel, general and artistic director of Des Moines Metro Opera; Kate Hightshoe, assistant vice president and diversity officer of QCR Holdings and Community State Bank; Tiffany Johnson, producing artistic director of Pyramid Theatre Company; and Daniel Van Sant, director of disability policy for the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement.
Gonzalez as Hamilton (front), standing at the ready with his castmates. Photo: Joan Marcus.


Pierre Jean Gonzalez Stars as Alexander Hamilton

If you think you’re excited to see “Hamilton” at the Des Moines Civic Center this weekend, just imagine how excited Pierre Jean Gonzalez feels about performing in it. Playing the lead, Alexander Hamilton, Gonzalez says he feels humbled and honored to take on the iconic role. After a morning run and a meal at the Breakfast Club, he spoke to us about what it’s like being part of the legendary production and representing Latinx and queer communities onstage.

dsm: What draws you to the role of Alexander?
PJG: Our worlds kind of align in a lot of places. His ride is so human. The rise and fall, the vulnerability, admission of what he did wrong. To be able to tell this story and see so many people find something to connect to is really magical.

dsm: The first “Hamilton” show was in 2015. Why do you think the production is still so popular and meaningful, after more than seven years?
PJG: It’s some of the most beautiful work I’ve ever seen. I still get goosebumps watching it play out. I believe it’s not just the magical storytelling and music. It’s one of those stories where you can connect to every single character. And everybody is represented here; they see themselves in this show.

dsm: What do you bring to Alexander’s character that makes it your own?
PJG: I always bring my culture and upbringing into the show. I grew up in the Bronx, which is like the home of hip-hop, so I think I bring a lot of that hunger and grit. I also bring everything that I’ve been through as a gay Dominirican (Dominican and Puerto Rican). I bring my heart.

Echoing Hamilton’s own fierce advocacy for his beliefs, Gonzalez also strives to give opportunities to underrepresented communities in theater, such as Latinx, Black and queer artists. This passion led him to co-create DominiRican Productions with his fiancé, Cedric Leiba Jr. “If I can use the money that I make doing this amazing job to uplift and create opportunities for the people around me, I feel like that’s my purpose right now.”

Catch one of the five “Hamilton” showtimes this weekend, including matinees and evening options. Can’t make it? The show will run until June 5, with performances Tuesdays through Sundays. Tickets are available on the Des Moines Performing Arts website.

High Leg Sofa Designs vs
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Andrew Walesch at Noce (Friday, Saturday, 7 p.m.): Enjoy a night of the classics as Minnesota native Andrew Walesch performs “Songs of Sinatra” with his 10-piece jazz band. Tickets for both night’s performances can be found on Noce’s website.

The Buzz Run + Stylin Paws Downtown Dog Walk (Saturday, 7:30 a.m.): This free, social-style fun run (or walk) will take off from Fleet Feet Des Moines in the East Village on Saturday morning. Runners or walkers of all levels are welcome to participate, and dogs are encouraged. T-shirts and medals will be available for purchase, with all proceeds going to the Animal Lifeline of Iowa. Distances include a 6K, 10K and half marathon. Additional shorter distance options will be available too. Register for a walk here.

“A Thousand Acres” Sneak Peek (Saturday, 10:30 a.m.): Des Moines Metro Opera will host a special sneak peek of its upcoming performance of “A Thousand Acres” at the Franklin Avenue Library this Saturday as part of its Acres Unearthed series leading up to the July 9 premiere. The event will include a preview performance from a principal artist from the opera. See the event details here. Read more about the $1 million DMMO-commissioned production in this dsm story.

Des Moines Comic Con (Saturday, Sunday, 10 a.m.):
Calling all pop culture fans, Comic Con is back. Celebrate your favorite comics, TV, film, games and more in Hy-Vee Hall this weekend. Highlights include panel discussions with comic creators, artists and exhibitors selling collectibles and other merchandise, and celebrity guests such as Kel Mitchell (“Kenan and Kel”) and Will Friedle (“Boy Meets World”). Click here to view the full schedule and purchase tickets here.
AViD author: Jason Mott will discuss his latest novel, “Hell of a Book,” next Wednesday (May 25) at Central Library as part of this year’s AViD programming. Published last summer, Mott’s novel digs into the heart of racism and police violence, and what it means to be Black in America as an unnamed African American protagonist embarks on a cross-country book tour. “Hell of a Book” received the 2021 National Book Award for fiction. The program begins at 7 p.m. Visit to learn more.
Winefest event: Tickets are now available for Winefest’s Toasting Tuesday June 14 at the Des Moines Heritage Center. At this guided tasting event, Gateway Market’s wine and beer director, Nevres Sehic, will walk guests through eight Champagne and sparkling wine tastings, paired with appetizers from Gateway Market Catering. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets.

Upcoming show: American folk-rock duo Indigo Girls will take the stage at Hoyt Sherman Place May 24. They will perform songs off their latest album, “Look Long,” and other favorites. Also, $1 of every ticket purchase will be donated to One Iowa, which works to improve and empower the lives of LQBTQ Iowans. More information and tickets are available here.

New farmers market: Beginning June 8, the new Center Street Farmers Market will be held every Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Silver Oaks Senior Living parking lot in the Oakridge Neighborhood. The new market will accept SNAP EBT cards, and is a participant in the Double Up Food Bucks program. Vendors will include five Global Greens farmers from Lutheran Services in Iowa. Other vendors interested in participating should contact or submit an interest form. Iowa Stops Hunger is a Business Publications Corp. initiative to raise awareness of food insecurity and inspire action to combat it.

Salamone at Hoyt Sherman Place, filming a music video for her song "Anthem for the Dreamers."

Iowa Musician Amplifies Indigenous History

Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Last year the Des Moines violinist Genevieve Salamone received an Iowa Arts & Culture Resilience Grant through a program the Iowa Arts Council designed to help artists, filmmakers, musicians and writers adapt to the challenges of the pandemic.

And that’s what Salamone did. But the pair of music videos she produced demonstrate resilience in the face of a much older ordeal: specifically, the lingering trauma caused by centuries of discrimination against Indigenous people like herself.

A member of the Huron-Wendat Nation, which is based in what is now Quebec, Salamone plans to premiere her two new videos during “A Night of Resilience” at 7 p.m. May 21 at xBk Live in Des Moines. The multimedia concert will feature fiddles, drums, piano, spoken word, an aerialist performance and a few songs from “Catharsis,” Salamone’s first original album, which she released last year.

It was one of that album’s numbers, called “Brave,” that led to the new videos, which blend Indigenous and Western musical themes. Read more about Salamone and her musical projects, on the Iowa Arts Council
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