New Publications, Ballet Video, At The Table Update
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November 3, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Working and schooling from home, this family is grateful that amongst all the suprises of 2020, their Zen home remodel surrounds them in beauty, functionality, and the good vibes that accompany sustainable remodeling choices.
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The cover of the November issue is a closeup of rutilated quartz, by jeweler Marisa Adamson (see story here). “I had someone tell me it looks like a ‘rainbow in a cave,’ which is kind of an anomaly but meaningful this year, with the rainbow being hope and the cave being 2020,” Adamson says. Photo: Joelle Blanchard.


Last week was a busy one for us here at dsm: We celebrated our first-ever virtual Dinner Party, a delightful event featuring a three-course dinner from Bubba. (Don't miss the next one on Jan. 14, when we release the January/February issue.) We also unveiled two new publications: the November issue and Iowa Stops Hunger.

November issue: While the pandemic persists, we hope this issue serves to inspire you. Inside, you'll find stories like this one, about a local artist who pushes boundaries, or this one, on how to host a safe party this fall. As always, there are pieces on dining, shopping and more. Also, check out the special section on weddings.

Iowa Stops Hunger: Part of a yearlong companywide initiative, the Iowa Stops Hunger publication tells stories of food insecurity in our state—those affected by it and those trying to make a difference. The issue covers the history of food in Iowa, local programs and the inspirational tales of individuals filling a need. You'll also find resources if you're interested in helping out.
    The innovative COMFORTAIR chair is now on sale. Plus - sit in it for one minute for a chance to win a home entertainment package.
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    Is the story of "The Nutcracker" just a fantasy? Maybe not, as 5-year-old Margaux Milne discovers. Videographer: Stefan Hansen.


    This 90-second video warmed our hearts so much—especially given this year, especially given this day—that we decided we simply had to share it with you.

    Because of the pandemic, Ballet Des Moines will be unable to perform the perennial holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” in person this year (though it is offering a variety of Nutcracker-related virtual experiences; find details here). That fact made the company’s creative director, Jami Milne, start pondering how she could help “our dancers to be seen—if not onstage, [then] in a way that keeps the magic alive.”

    She turned to videographer Stefan Hansen, Des Moines Ballet company dancer Bobbie Lynn Kandravi and “the only tiny dancer I knew would be safe to shoot based on quarantine behavior … my daughter, Margaux,” she says.

    Many readers may remember 5-year-old Margaux from the cover of our July/August issue; the unabashed joy that photo exuded generated more response than any cover image in recent memory. In this video, Margaux continues to evoke the enchantment of childhood and Milne continues to capture it. Enjoy.

    Aaron Byrd of Eat Streets DSM has opened a new venture, Sugarfoot Mobile Bar, catering to events. Photographer: Bob Blanchard.


    Writer: Karla Walsh

    My, what a difference four months makes! In case you missed part one of our At the Table updates, here it is. This is part two, recapping what’s new and next with our At the Table brand owners. Stay tuned for the next new edition on Nov. 24.

    Maya Ridgeway of Curly Girl Cakes and Cookies has returned to school in a hybrid model and is balancing life as an eighth grader with playing volleyball and baking. “I’ve received out-of-state orders and have now shipped to about six different states. I’ve also taught my two older sisters how to ‘flood’ cookies, so they can help,” Ridgeway says. “Coming soon, I plan to add some new menu items, including something for your furry friends!”
    Discover the current menu and watch for all updates on the
    Curly Girl Cakes and Cookies Facebook page.

    For Rachelle Long of Chellie’s Sugar Shack Bakery, the pandemic has actually helped her business progress. Outgrowing her home commercial kitchen, Chellie's Sugar Shack Bakery landed in a new home: the Kitchen at the Hall.  “We are now licensed to bake there and offer curbside pickup. I’m looking forward to preparing orders for the upcoming holiday season in the Kitchen, as we feature our sweet potato pies made from scratch,” Long says. To see her current offerings and to find out how to place an order, visit

    Aaron Byrd of Street Eats DSM (which is now serving lunch again across the metro—watch for location announcements on Facebook) took on a project during the past few months: opening a new business venture.

    He bought a 1977 horse trailer “in rough shape” (check out a
    before photo here), cleaned it up and converted it into a mobile bar. Sugarfoot Mobile Bar is a dry-hire bar, so clients source the alcohol and the Sugarfoot team will provide the mobile facility and bartending staff. Byrd and his team will consult with the client to develop a custom menu and provide all cups, napkins, specialty syrups, garnishes and bar decor.

    “We provide a personal experience and rustic-farm aesthetic for private parties, weddings, corporate events, showers, movie night concessions with popcorn machines and more," he says. "Really, the sky's the limit on what we can do to make a party extra special."

    Email to inquire about availability.
    Lefty's Live Music's five-year anniversary fell on the same day as the pandemic lockdown, March 17. Owner Anne Mathey says it's a touch of irony in the bleak reality of live music.


    Writer: Allaire Nuss

    Anne Mathey started Lefty’s Live Music after several Des Moines venues closed during the winter of 2014. Mathey and her business partner, Erik Brown, filled the void with a new multi-genre, 300-capacity venue on University Avenue near Drake University.   

    Today, Mathey says she fears there will be a similar “armageddon” of creative spaces.

    “You’re already seeing it,” Mathey says. “Vaudeville Mews has closed their doors and everybody else is struggling. Entertainment and music is kind of the worst industry to be in right now.”

    Lefty’s has been able to stay open through various means, including the generosity of others: After lockdown began in the spring, the venue reached its GoFundMe goal of $5,000 in just four days—more money than they ever received in federal aid, Mathey says. “We’re definitely lucky to have a community around us that cares about music," she says. “But it’s hard to try and ask people to give you something when you know everyone else is hurting.”

    As the pandemic persisted, the venue needed more to stay afloat. Beyond dipping into personal savings and selling to-go drinks, Lefty’s rented out part of its space to Hazel’s Smoke and Vape shop. Livestreams have been an additional source of revenue, with initial broadcasts drawing between 2,000 and 3,000 viewers, Mathey says. Along with the support of donations, Mathey observed another silver lining to online music: “[Livestreams] not only help us, it also helps the artists, the bands, get their music and their art out there.”

    But as time wore on, virtual shares and views started to go down, corralling the venue back toward in-person programming. The path to reopening late this summer was slow and littered with regulatory obstacles, like when the city mandated that bars had to temporarily close in late August. Now capacity is limited to 60 people, and everyone must wear masks and be seated at distanced tables.

    Mathey says Lefty’s is lucky to even have weekend performances, a stark comparison to the six or seven shows per week in pre-pandemic times. But even with numbers and revenue down, she tries to keep a positive perspective.

    “Even before COVID happened, running a venue isn’t really a money business, it’s a heart business,” Mathey says. “You don’t get into music to make a bunch of money. You get into it because you love it.”

    Mathey attributes much of Lefty’s survival thus far to the support of the surrounding Des Moines community, from those who donated early on to those who are buying tickets today. “It always seems like somebody’s willing to step up when we need it, so we’re really lucky and blessed to have that community with us,” she says.
    Antwain Clarke chatted about his creative process and art career on the latest dsm CultureCast podcast.


    Writer: Luke Manderfeld

    Antwain Clarke grew up in Jamaica and moved to Des Moines on a whim—he had never visited the Midwest before, but was looking for "something different." Even after moving, he still felt a calling to his home as well as to nature. Many of his drawings are inspired by Jamaica, as Clarke explained on the latest dsm CultureCast podcast.

    "It's like fantasy. I haven't seen anyone draw like me," he said. "It's highly detailed because of the simplicity of the media. It speaks to the technical competence. And that has always been my focus. So I kind of like to show off what I can do with a pencil."

    His inspiration "really is back home, in Jamaica," he said. "I love the history and heritage. When you drive across the country, it is endless inspiration."

    Clarke is also hyper-attentive to details. For example, he spent months studying the anatomy of an alligator to perfect the shape and size of one of his portraits.

    "My creative process is very slow," he said. "I feel like work needs time to ferment. It needs to time to grow. It usually starts with me reading. I am a nerd. I love to read science and watch YouTube videos. I'm totally, totally obsessed with what the Caribbean looked like pre-colonization. ... I read, I see the image and I translate that onto paper."

    Over the last few months, Clarke has been shifting his focus to creating natural art in unexpected places, like underwater arrangements in water tanks, called acroscapes. The switch was intentional because, for someone who draws so much inspiration from nature, it felt odd creating on paper made from trees, he said.

    You can find out more about Clarke on his Instagram and by reading this story from the dsm archive. You can subscribe to find more interviews like this at Apple Podcast, Spotify and more.


    "I've got good news to share. Yes, I said good news."

    That's how Stephen King, executive director of the Des Moines Arts Festival, started his email to us last week. We're all about welcoming good news these days, and King provided some: "Many artists and creative entrepreneurs are looking for new opportunities and ways to adapt their practice. After months of planning,  approvals, and funding successes, we are officially launching Artist INC Des Moines."

    Artist INC, established in partnership with the Mid-America Arts Alliance, is a professional development program that will provide an opportunity for Central Iowa artists in all disciplines to learn more about the business side of the industry. Starting March 8, 2021, 25 participants will take part in training seminars that address the business needs and challenges artists face.

    The program is "a game-changer for Iowa’s creative sector and answers the call from the Capital Crossroads Vision Plan and the Regional Cultural Assessment to strengthen the creative economy," King told us. "It also marks the formalized step toward advancing our organization’s strategic priority to serve as a cross-discipline artist service organization."  

    Mid-America Arts Alliance is a nonprofit regional arts organization that supports artists, cultural organizations and communities throughout a six-state region (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas). Des Moines is the first community delivering Artist INC outside of that region.

    More information and details about the program can be found here. Applications will be available Nov. 16, 2020, through Jan.15, 2021.
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