Learn the simple secrets behind this and other dazzling images in the July/August issue of dsm magazine, available today.


Join us this evening (Tuesday, June 26) to celebrate our newest issue and the latest addition to Jester Park. We look forward to seeing you between 5 and 7 p.m. at the new Jester Park Nature Center, 12130 N.W. 128th St., Granger. You'll get a special preview of the facility, which doesn't open to the public until August. Dress summer-casual, so you can stroll the grounds and enjoy some nature. We'll have brief comments and learn about the Nature Center at 6 p.m., when we pass out our new issue.

If you will build it, they will come…
... If you build it with a joyful passion for the arts and a focus on sustainability, then add in lots of desirable perks, they will come and have a magical experience! Enjoy this fun look at the exclusive Silent Rivers VIP Club for patrons of last weekend’s Des Moines Arts Festival. ... Read more »

By Design presents dsmDining —

Steamed buns—Vietnamese meatball, spring pea falafel, and General Tsao chicken.


By Wini Moranville

With half-price pizza, wine and draft beers from 3 to 6 p.m., chef Nic Gonwa of Eatery A has long snagged the early diner’s affections. This past spring, chef Joe Tripp at sister restaurant Harbinger introduced his happy hour menu. Together, the two chefs are, in my view, the kingpins of this city’s late afternoon/early evening sips-and-bites scene.

Tripp says he plans to change the menu frequently. "Expect lots of hands-on snacks, like pork rinds dusted with maple-sriracha powder, heritage chicken legs with kohlrabi slaw, and always some sort of homemade dumpling."

On my visit, the menu offered wild onion pancakes, blue crab and avocado toast, pork confit eggrolls, steamed buns, tapioca and pecorino fritters, as well as the aforementioned pork rinds and homemade dumplings (both astoundingly good, by the way). Each item was priced at $5, except the steamed buns, which hardly broke the bank at three for $7. They were so tasty they made us giddy with gratitude.

While you could probably make a meal of these delights, I’ll be enjoying them the way Venetians enjoy cicchetti and Spaniards savor tapas—as light snacks to go with that ease-you-out-of-the-workday sip—a "meet for drinks and see what happens next" kind of occasion.

Regarding that mood-lightening sip, front-of-the-house manager Rae Doyle says, "We always offer a white, pink, red and sparkling, and the wines will change occasionally." The light, fresh, perfect-for-summer sauvignon blanc/colombard blend from the Côtes de Gascogne was about as pleasurable you’ll ever get for $5 a glass.

One $5 cocktail feature is also offered. This, too, will change often. "We try to always match the mood of the day—cool and refreshing when it’s hot and sunny, warming and whiskey-based on a dreary day," Doyle says. Indeed, the cucumber-mint gimlet on the 90-degree afternoon of our visit more than hit its mark.

The happy hour menu is served every day from 4 to 6 p.m. Harbinger is at 2724 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-244-1314;

I was so excited to work with my client Wendy on designing her new home…I had helped her furnish her last home so we already had a design relationship established when they built this new custom home. ... Read more »

Olson-Larsen Galleries presents dsmArts —

Sara Gartland keeps her singing in Czech as the water nymph Rusalka, with enormous vocal and emotional range.


Reviewed by Michael Morain

If you feel a southeasterly tug over the next few weeks, it might be the moon in the Des Moines Metro Opera’s gorgeous new take on "Rusalka" in Indianola. It lights up the stage and seems to pull the tidal title character with almost as much power as her doomed love.

Technically, Rusalka is a water nymph, but her fairy tale flows like "The Little Mermaid." She falls in love with a human prince, trades her voice for a human body and then crawls ashore to catch her man. But don’t expect a happy ending: This is opera, after all, and the grim and bloody finale departs from the Disney version that lets Ariel off the hook.

Here, under Chas Rader-Shieber’s imaginative direction, the powerhouse soprano and company favorite Sara Gartland crosses the border into a disorienting new world. Every inch of Jacob Climer’s creamy white set is covered in hand-painted blue toilethink of Laura Ashley on steroidswith a double set of furniture that appears to sink into the stage for the underwater scenes and stands upright in the prince’s palace. But the two worlds don’t look very different, at least on the surface.

The contrasts are clearer in Climer’s costumes. He drapes Rusalka and her water-goblin father, Vodnik (bass Zachary Hayes), in sheer, shimmery shreds and upholsters the humans in overstuffed Victorian finery. At one point, the prince (tenor Evan Leroy Johnson) dons a red military jacket with more ornaments than most Christmas trees, while the foreign princess (soprano Laura Wilde) glides in wearing a yellow dress with mutton-chop sleeves as big as whole sheep. Servants in black tuxedos set the banquet table in a routine (choreographed by Isaac Martin Lerner) that rivals "Be Our Guest," from that other Disney classic "Beauty and the Beast."

The differences between Rusalka’s two worlds are also apparent in Antonin Dvorak’s score, which includes some of the nature-inspired themes he scribbled in his notebook during his summer vacation in Spillville, Iowa, in 1893. A rippling harp and fluid strings stir up Acts I and III, which take place in the lake, while polished brass fanfares and dance tunes dominate the palace scenes in Act II. Conductor David Neely’s amphibious orchestra navigates both realms with a lyrical touch.

Singing in Czech, with English supertitles, the cast is terrific. Hayes is magnificent as Rusalka’s protective dad, especially when he bellows at her in the first act. (Coincidentally, he was high and dry last year as nasty Claggart on the ship in "Billy Budd.")

Johnson’s dashing prince is worthy of Rusalka’s affection and ably carries the unusual solos that would have been love duets if she hadn’t forfeited her voice. Wilde makes a formidable foreign princess, a fiery foil to Rusalka’s chilly beauty.

And of course, there is the witch Jezibaba, whom mezzo-soprano Jill Grove plays with a brash swagger and a big fat cigar that somehow smokes underwater. (Must be the magic.) She adds some levity to the drama and casts one of the coolest spells you’ll hear in any language. But careful there, kids, don’t try it at home: The Czech equivalent of "Abracadabra!" is "Cury, mury, fuk!"

Even with such a deep bench, though, the real star is Gartland, who sings Rusalka’s plaintive "Song to the Moon" with a voice as big and lustrous as its subject. (It’s one of Renee Fleming’s signature arias.) The role requires an enormous vocal and emotional range, and Gartland delivers on both counts. You can feel what she feelsher longing, her homesicknesseven though she might have gills.

It occurred to me during Friday night’s performance that in real-world terms Rusalka could be an undocumented immigrant – willing to leave everything she knows, unable to speak a new language, even accused of stealing a good job. It’s a wonder nobody builds a seawall to keep her out.

But that’s what fairy tales do, right? They tell the truth in a roundabout way. They derive their magic less from surprise than recognition, where a water nymph sings to the moon and you know exactly what she means.

"Rusalka" repeats on July 1, 3, 6 and 14, in rotation with "Die Fledermaus" and "Flight" through July 15 at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola. For tickets and a full schedule of events, visit


Please don't miss the opportunity to
reward the local mentors, civic leaders and role models who have influenced you by nominating them to be honored as one of our 2018 Sages Over 70. Through their creativity, talent and vigor, such people have helped our community grow and flourish.   

At dsm, we pay tribute to these remarkable achievers every November in print and in ceremonies. To nominate a leader you know, complete this nomination form by July 1. The nominee needs to be age 70 or older and should meet the spirit of these criteria:
  • Has demonstrated leadership through decades.
  • Has contributed and still contributes to the betterment of the community.
  • Has been a role model and mentor to others.
Thanks for helping us recognize our community's finest mentors, leaders and philanthropists.

"Multimedia" is almost inadequate in describing this production of video, digital painting, photography and live musical performance.


We were captivated recently by a production created by Gustav Art, the collaboration of artists Scott Kaven and Ben Schuh, at Mainframe Studios. Titled "Mixture," the installation featured "projection mapping" that incorporates responsive digital imagery with fine art and music by saxophonist Tommy Doggett. We hope the brief video clip above will give you some sense of this fascinating project.

Valeria Avina and Hunter Menken get colorful in "Tempest-Tossed Tales," to be presented three times on Sunday.


The local production company Iowa Shakespeare Experience marks the 10th anniversary edition of its Summer Festival with three free shows indoors and outdoors this Sunday, July 1. The innovative new show, "Tempest-Tossed Tales" by local playwright Lorenzo Sandoval, focuses on Shakespeare's magical creature, Caliban, from "The Tempest." Executive Director Robin Heinemann says the show is enjoyable for all ages. It includes music by the Grinnell band "Calle Sur."

This year's "festival in a day" format presents these free performances:
  • 12:15 p.m. indoors at Mainframe Studios, 900 Keosauqua Way; seating provided.
  • 4 p.m. in the Des Moines Social Club's Kum & Go Theater, seating provided.
  • 7:30 p.m. outdoors in the Courtyard at the Des Moines Social Club. Bring picnics, beverages and chairs. The Social Club Wine Bar will be open.

The brand existed long before Lin-Manuel Miranda gave much thought to Alexander Hamilton, but the musical has given Federalist wines a fresh shot.


Here's an inside tip about an inside sip: When long-awaited "Hamilton" opens at the Civic Center tomorrow, listen for a cork pop in addition to the hip-hop. Wines served during the show's 19-day run (ending July 15) include two California vintages from the Federalist brand. The company has jumped on its natural tie to the show, recently adding "Dueling Pistols Red Blend," memorializing the duel in which (spoiler alert!) Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded by Vice President Aaron Burr. It's all in good fun, so enjoy the show—and a glass.  

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