Here at dsm magazine, we are pleased once again to share the annual list of civic leaders to be celebrated as  Sages Over 70. They'll be the toast of the town in November, when we honor their accomplishments in print and in an elegant reception Nov. 8 in the ballroom of the new downtown Hilton hotel, where each will share insights into their remarkable approach to life. In addition to success in their own careers, each has contributed significantly in the personal development of others, in the growth of Greater Des Moines and in support of charitable causes and institutions. This year's sages:

  • Simon Estes, internationally acclaimed operatic baritone, teacher and philanthropist.
  • James Hubbell III, real estate developer and philanthropist.
  • William C. Kimball, business and civic leader.
  • William Lillis, attorney, advocate and fundraiser for community development.
  • Patsy Shors, civic leader, nurse, entrepreneur and advocate for women in business.
  • Catherine G. Williams (who will be 104 in November), a mentor and a trailblazer in Iowa social services, both professionally and as a prominent volunteer.

Watch our website (, this newsletter and our Facebook page for more information about these remarkable individuals and the Nov. 8 event to honor them. Tickets to the event are already available here.

Top 6 considerations to maximize your outdoor living spaces Landscaping and outdoor design is a vital aspect of a beautiful home, increasing both property value and enjoyment of your home. Time to rethink your outdoor space? Here are six tips from the team who has been creating magnificent, functional outdoor spaces for 25 years. ... Read more »

By Design presents dsmDining —

An elegant on-site celebration of farm-to-table awareness results in a pretty pricey picnic at $246 each. Photo: Neringa Greiciute.


By Wini Moranville

Founded in 1999 by artist and chef Jim Denevan, Outstanding in the Field (OITF) is a culinary caravan that travels throughout North America and beyond, making stops in places where good food is grown or harvested. For each event, the staff partners with local chefs and food producers to stage multicourse feasts, which are shared at long, communal tables. Settings have included farms, gardens, ranches, groves and seashores.

The roving restaurant will pop up at Grade A Gardens in Johnston at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1. This will be OITF’s third stop at Jordan Clasen’s five-acre farm (the most recent was in 2016). Clasen grows organic fruits, vegetables and flowers, which he sells at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market, through his CSA and to local restaurateurs. The chef for the event is Jonathan Baker, recently named executive chef at Centro, with Derek Eidson (former executive chef of Centro, now headed to Django) consulting. Barntown Brewing is supplying the beer, while Claypool Cellars of Sonoma County is the featured winery.

Promotional materials for the event describe Outstanding in the Field as "a traveling celebration of people and place," and indeed, it seems a potentially soul-stirring way to connect with the land and those whose skills and hard work nourish us. Yet such a connection comes at a steep price: $246 per person, after the ticketing fee and sales tax. Tickets can be purchased via the website Outstanding in the Field.  

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Olson-Larsen Galleries presents dsmArts —

Some color and personality have replaced a row of industrial white posts on this stretch of East Grand. Viva la difference.


By Michael Morain

Every summer in Paris, when the city heats up, the mayor’s office hauls in a few tons of sand to create artificial beaches along the Seine. The city sets up deck chairs, volleyball nets and potted palms for both the tourists and the locals who don’t escape to the actual coasts. The idea started in 2002 and has grown into an annual tradition.

Here in Des Moineswhich is French, of course, for "the moines" we don’t have a pop-up beach, but we do have a beachy boardwalk. The new pastel-painted block of East Grand Avenue, between Fifth and Sixth streets, calls to mind saltwater taffy and the touristy places where you can find it. Pink and blue wooden benches and flower boxes have replaced the rows of plastic white spikes that divided the bike lanes from other traffic.

Volunteers installed the project last week as part of the Better Block initiative, which started in suburban Dallas and has spread to cities across the country. The basic idea is to improve neighborhoods by inviting the public to dream up a list of featureslike a playground, say, or a small stageand then enlisting volunteers to build them on the cheap, without waiting for the funds or permits that permanent changes would require. Then, if folks like the pop-up stuff, they’ll be more likely to build the real thing.

The verdict is still out on East Grand, but it’s growing on me. By now I’ve walked and biked and driven it and can tell you it’s an improvement on the plastic spikes, which make the rest of the street feel like an obstacle course. The new features don’t solve the tight corners or the rush-hour traffic jams between East Grand and the interstate, but the streetscape is just strange enough to get people to slow their roll and look around.

A few nights ago, a mother and her toddler son sat on one of the painted benches. A pair of skateboarders rolled through. Farther west, people filled the patio at Zombie Burger and the smaller pocket patios that have quietly filled the spaces by Lime Lounge and Della Viti.

It’s all part of what the French call "la belle vie," or the good life. Maybe next year we can build a beach.

In addition to providing a breathtaking spectacle, balloon pilots compete for prizes at the National Balloon Classic, beginning Friday.


For nine days each summer, spirits are lifted and imaginations soar with the sight of almost 100 colorful hot-air balloons rising from a field near Indianola. It's the National Balloon Classic, a 30-year annual tradition, occurring this year July 27 through Aug. 4. The action takes off Friday, with balloons lifting at 6:30 p.m. and the Nadas onstage below, at the Memorial Balloon Field, two miles east of Indianola on Iowa Highway 92. Admission is free in the mornings, $5 in the evenings (free to ages 6 and under). Details are available here.

Captivating, painterly images of botanical subjects are a specialty of Molly Wood, one of 13 photographers in an upcoming exhibit.


Not one but two events are coming up this weekend at Olson-Larsen Galleries in Valley Junction. An exhibit of art photography opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 27. And a panel discussion with several of the artists, moderated by Des Moines Art Center curator Laura Burkhalter, begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 28.

The work of 13 photographers will be featured in the the exhibit, including Molly Wood, the subject of this story from the current issue of dsm magazine. Saturday's panel discussion includes nine of the exhibiting photographers. Organizers say public participation in the discussion is welcome.

Air quality may take a dip, but the quality of life soars when attending Smoke Out Hunger this Sunday afternoon.


Smoke Out Hunger, the tastiest of fundraisers for the Food Bank of Iowa, returns to Brenton Skating Plaza downtown Sunday, July 29, from noon to 3 p.m. It's a sweet and simple deal: Support the Food Bank, enjoy all the barbecue you can eat (prepared by local pitmasters and restaurants) plus tasty craft beers, for $40 ($10 for ages 6-12). Want more for you money? There's live music, lawn games and picnic table board games. For details and tickets, click here.

One silhouetted upraised fist hardly hints at the happily rowdy behavior brewing in Delbert McClinton's crowd at Hoyt Sherman Place.


By Larry Erickson

As managing editor here at dsm, I justify the personal cost of some concerts and shows as valid but not tax-deductible "professional expenses." And as a guy of a certain age, I’ve made a point in recent years to attend concerts by performers whose music I have long appreciated. It’s been a mixed bag, from Jimmy Buffett, age 71, and Bob Seger, 73, to Kris Kristofferson, 82, and Willie Nelson, 85. So I wasn’t surprised Friday to see that a thoroughly mature crowd turned out for Delbert McClinton, 77, at Hoyt Sherman Place.

Given their age, the very few people who couldn’t stay in their seats during the first half of the show made me smile. (I usually go all curmudgeonly when I’m seated behind such fans, stuck watching the back of a bad dancer rather than the better side of a good entertainer.)

But after the intermission, age lost its grip on the rest of Friday's crowd, too. Unable to sit still any longer, they were on their feet, joyously dancing in the aisles and at their seats, singing along and reveling in McClinton's distinctive style of blues/southern rock-meets-jazz. Even I, with all my ancestral Nordic stoicism, found myself tapping my toe and clapping along. (This from a guy who was once called "a tough audience" in a chat with singer Alice Cooper, who had noticed my restraint earlier in the second row at his show.)

I’m told that younger audiences sometimes leap to their feet in the cramped rows of Hoyt Sherman, but rarely. I’ve never seen it happen there.

So the memory of Friday night put me in a good mood all weekend—happy that McClinton still "has it," tickled that a mature audience can still erupt so jubilantly in response, and reassured that we need not "go gentle into that good night." Instead, we can rock out of here—even the staid (but toe-tapping) Norwegians among us. 

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