ia: The best of Iowa arts and culture
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Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Vivek Vilasini's large-scale photo "Between our shore and several others ... Study after 'The Calling of Saint Matthew' by Caravaggio" is one of 63 Indian artworks on display in Clarinda. Photo: Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum


Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

“Art of India” offers exactly what its title promises: a mix of new artwork from across the vast country of 1.4 billion people.

But the exhibition’s location in Clarinda, a town of about 5,500, is a bit more surprising—at least for folks who’ve never set foot in the Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum. It opened seven years ago in a beautiful 1909 library building and presents all sorts of worth-the-drive shows and events.

The Indian exhibition, on display through February (and online in a slick interactive tour), draws from the private art collection of the museum’s founders, Karen and Robert Duncan.

The artwork from across the Indian subcontinent shows that with globalization, “doors opened for artists to compete for international fellowships, art fairs and gallery exhibitions," according to a curator's note. "Those enriching experiences have led to greater understanding of the world’s cultures, histories and contemporary art.”

Doors opened for art fans, too, even in small-town Iowa.
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A still from "Frozen Out," a short film created by two Iowa City filmmakers reflecting on an immigrant's struggles with mental health.


Two Iowa City filmmakers won a Student Academy Award and a $5,000 grant during the 48th annual ceremony presented virtually last week by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The five-minute experimental film, called “Frozen Out,” reflects on an immigrant’s struggles with mental health. It was written and directed by its star, Hao Zhou (pronounced How Joe), a graduate student in film and video production at the University of Iowa, and produced by Iowa City filmmaker Tyler Hill. In a statement, Zhou said the award is the most prestigious competitive prize for student-made films in the world.

Zhou and Hill’s work has already attracted attention in Iowa. “Frozen Out” was selected for the sixth season of “The Film Lounge,” which will air statewide on Iowa PBS in January 2022. “The Film Lounge,” an annual series that showcases Iowa films, is produced in partnership with the Iowa Arts Council and Produce Iowa, both divisions of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Watch the trailer here.
Des Moines-based artist Jimmy Navarro likes to jam out to painting landscapes in their current state. Here he’s capturing a scene at Badger Creek State Park near Van Meter. Photo: Duane Tinkey.


This story appeared in our newest edition of ia magazine. Read it here.

Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

If you’re painting outside and the temperature dips below freezing, mix some vodka into your paints to keep them loose. If it’s hot out, take a battery-powered fan. If you’re in a kayak, secure your easel with a few bungee cords.
Oh–and always take bug spray.

These are the sorts of tips you can learn the hard way, from personal experience, or from the growing swarm of outdoor painters who will happily share their stories from the coldest/hottest/windiest/buggiest day they ever spent trying to capture a moment on canvas.

Nobody knows exactly how many Iowans paint outdoors—or en plein air, to borrow the French term—but more than 600 follow a Facebook group called Iowa Plein Air Painters (pronounced plen as in pen). A half dozen Iowa towns host annual competitions, including Dubuque and Keosauqua, plus there’s the Iowa State Fair’s annual competition.

Read the rest of the story here.
Winterset Cidery will host a Halloween Party and costume contest on Oct. 30. There will be plenty of ciders, including hard ciders, for drinking. Photo: Winterset Cidery


Check out these ways to have fun for Halloween:

Dia de lose Muertos (Des Moines): The Des Moines Art Center has been celebrating the traditional Mexican holiday honoring the dead the past few weeks. Right now, you can check out the ofrenda—an altar paying homage to lost loved ones. Through Saturday, you can pick up activity kits for children, which includes a list of Latino authors to read about.

"Ghostbusters in Concert" (Cedar Rapids): Orchestra Iowa will present a showing of "Ghostbusters" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Paramount Theatre. The orchestra will play the score live while the film plays on the screen. Tickets start at $18.

Halloween Party (Winterset): Enjoy live music, cider and the Madison County countryside at Winterset Cidery's Halloween Party, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. The Retro Gold Band will provide the tunes. There will also be cash prizes for both individual and group costumes. Admission is $10 per vehicle, up to six people.
"The Nutcracker Ballet" is a time-honored tradition at Stephens Auditorium, going on 40 years. Photo: Stephens Auditorium


It's not too early to make plans for the holidays. Iowa State University's Stephens Auditorium in Ames has a few performances to mark on your calendars.

"The Nutcracker Ballet" (Dec. 11-12): Tickets went on sale last week for this holiday tradition, which has taken the Stephens Auditorium stage every year since 1981. More than 200 local dancers from surrounding central Iowa communities participate with guest principal dancers performing the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Tickets start at $25. There are three showtimes: 1 and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 11, and 1 p.m. on Dec. 12.

Martina McBride (7 p.m. Nov. 28): Country singer Martina McBride, winner of 15 major music awards, will stop in Ames for her "Joy of Christmas" tour, featuring her favorite Christmas music backed by a local orchestra. Tickets start at $25.

Lindsey Stirling (8 p.m. Dec. 1): Violinist and entertainer Lindsey Stirling will perform songs from her two Christmas albums, "Warmer in the Winter" and "Christmas Album." Stirling's “Carol of the Bells” single is still the only instrumental song to ever reach the Top 10 at AC Radio, and it hit No. 1 on Holiday Radio in 2020. Tickets start at $35.
These four buddies went golfing every year for 50 years, the subject of a documentary, "The Foursome." From left: Darrel Collins of La Crescent, Minnesota, Gary Peterson of McGregor, Bob Rotach of Waukon and Herb Collins of McGregor.
Photo: Wavelength Productions


Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

When four buddies from Waukon finished a round of golf back in 1969, one of them said, “We should do this again.”

And so they did. Every year. For half a century.

That’s the gist of the new documentary “The Foursome,” which was produced by the Emmy-winning filmmaker Jenifer Westphal. She grew up in McGregor, learned to golf from her dad and has fond memories of the annual Waukon Golf Tournament.

She lives in Philadelphia now but returned to Iowa to capture the story of her father and his friends on film. Produce Iowa, the state film office, helped connect her crew to local resources here and welcomed them back during the pandemic for screenings outside at golf courses across the state.

Since then, the 30-minute film has been charming its way through the festival circuit, including this month’s Sioux City Film Festival, where it won an audience choice award. You can now watch it for free online.
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