Joni Mitchell sang "I've looked at clouds from both sides now" but she never saw them like this view with Iowa native Peggy Whitson.


Three of our favorite lesser-known nonprofits are presenting awards at events this weekend, and one of them is out of this world.

Iowa astronaut Peggy Whitson will receive the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award at the Ray Center's All-Star Partner reception, which starts at 5 p.m. Friday, April 13, with cocktails followed by dinner and fundraising auctions.
The Ray Center annually recognizes Iowans who demonstrate six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. The event will be held at the Ron Pearson Center adjacent to Hy-Vee's corporate headquarters in West Des Moines. Tickets are $250. Click to learn more.

The Young Women's Resource Center's annual gala—5:30-9 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at the Ron Pearson Center—begins with a social hour and silent auction followed by dinner and a brief program that includes celebrating the organization's 40th anniversary and honoring the 2018 Louise Noun Visionary Woman community member award and Woman of Worth client awards. A live auction concludes the evening. Admission is $125 ($65 for ages 35 and younger). For tickets and more information, click here.

And, if you have tickets, remember that the ninth annual One Iowa Gala on Friday, April 13, will honor the accomplishments of advocates for LGBTQ equality. We're happy to report that all tickets have been sold, with proceeds to support One Iowa's quest for full equality for LGBTQ individuals in the state.

Support YWRC: Bid online to win this Silent Rivers custom table!
Designed by the Silent Rivers Woodshop artisans to reflect the uplifting mission of Young Women’s Resource Center, the feminine strength of this hall table is anchored with a powerful self-assertive base from which everything else begins to confidently taper upward. Bid on this and more! ... Read more »

By Design presents dsmDining —

White curtains diffuse a soft blue light in the updated dining area of Spash Seafood downtown.


By Wini Moranville

A recent visit to Splash Seafood Bar & Grill made me want to return very soon. Here’s why:

• Refreshed decor: While some diners (including me) originally admired the bold and surreal circa-late-'90s ambiance, there’s no denying that the decor had become dated. Now, the brazen dining room mural has been replaced by a subdued sheen of white curtains, backlit by soft blue lamps. And what a difference that has made! The effect is graceful and refined, while leaving the dreaminess of the giant aquariums intact.

• Oysters: There truly is no better place in town to enjoy raw oysters. Whether from the East Coast or West, the ice-cold bivalves consistently bring the vivid sweet-salty-funky appeal I crave. 

• Jet-fresh seafood: I’m never disappointed by the freshness and sparkle of the fish here. Conveniently, two of my favorite entrees on the menu also happen to be two of the least expensive: The miso-marinated salmon with edamame salad ($28) and the swordfish meuniere ($29) make dining here on a weeknight seem like less of a splurge, especially when you consider my next point …

• No corkage fee: There’s never a corkage fee here, and that’s a generous touch for such a high-end place.

• Birthday deal: Sign up for Splash’s newsletters, and you’ll get a free entree (up to $25 off) during the week of your birthday. Sign up here.

Splash Seafood Bar & Grill is at 303 Locust St., 515-244-5686;

Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.

A Modern Casual Living Room
I’m currently in the process of redesigning our living room and thought I’d share my ideas with you…I’d love any feedback you have to give! ... Read more »

Yayoi Kusama is the subject of a film that will be shown free, exploring her distinctive personal and artistic styles,


Learn more about artist Yayoi Kusama in a free screening of the film "KusamaInfinity" at the Fleur Cinema at 1:30 p.m. April 22 and repeated May 2 at 7 p.m. The events are a collaboration between the theater and the Des Moines Art Center.

Both showings of the 80-minute film will be followed by remarks from Art Center curator Laura Burkhalter, who will speak about Kusama’s four furniture sculptures in the Art Center’s collection as well as the newly added bronze titled "Pumpkin (L)" to the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. This film is related to programming for the exhibition Yayoi Kusama.

Kusama was born into a conservative family in rural Japan and  made her way to America after World War II. "KusamaInfinity" explores her determination to become a world-renowned artist. Admission to the screenings is free, but reservations are required. Click here to reserve your seats.

Olson-Larsen Galleries will feature artists Laura Berman, a printmaker from Kansas City, whose "Strata 12" is shown above; Mary Merkel-Hess, a well-known fiber artist from Iowa City; and Des Moines native photographer Ken Smith.


Art and merriment are on tap Friday, April 13, at Historic Valley Junction’s Spring Gallery Night. Eight galleries will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. featuring new work by regional, national and international artists. In addition to the galleries, other Valley Junction shops and restaurants are open extended hours for the event.

The galleries of Historic Valley Junction offer original artwork, custom jewelry, ceramics, glass, furniture, folk art,  fine-art reproductions and more. Participants, all on Fifth Street, include:
  • 2AU Limited sells one-of-a-kind, fine jewelry, accessories, and contemporary art.
  • AOK Antiques/Atomicblond Mid Century Modern Gallery Loft specializes in art sculpture lighting, antiques and furniture.
  • Artisan Gallery 218 is a contemporary fine art gallery featuring Iowa-made original art.
  • From Our Hands is a craft gallery with work by artisans from the U.S. and Canada.
  • Gravitate Coworking Valley Junction is a workplace community that displays the work of local artists.
  • Kunzler Studios offers art classes and has a gallery that displays art in a variety of media.  
  • Olson-Larsen Galleries is a contemporary art gallery representing over 60 regional artists. On Friday,  the gallery will open a new exhibit showcasing works by Laura Berman, Mary Merkel-Hess and Ken Smith.
  • Vino 209 Wine Cafe is a cozy wine cafe that displays the work of local artists.

"A Monumental Journey" in downtown Des Moines will stand 30 feet high when completed this summer.


Site work has begun for the public art sculpture "A Monumental Journey," which will be dedicated in July. The site is Hansen Triangle Park, bordered by Grand and Second avenues. The world-class public art project, designed by acclaimed artist Kerry James Marshall, honors the legacy of African-American lawyers who founded the National Bar Association in Des Moines in 1925 after being denied membership in the American Bar Association. Their efforts had a profound and permanent impact on our nation at a time that excluded African-American lawyers from mainstream society and the legal profession. "A Monumental Journey" will memorialize this historic achievement.

Want to watch the sculpture's installation process? You can see it online here.

Phillip Chen has used his art to address the cultural isolation of minorities in American history.


Phillip Chen, a professor of art at Drake University, has been awarded a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.

Chen, who teaches courses in printmaking and drawing, is one of only 173 Guggenheim Fellows and the only Iowan to be honored in 2018; about 3,000 people applied for the prestigious honor. He's only the second Drake faculty member in the history of the grant, given annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in New York. Past recipients have included author James Baldwin and composer Aaron Copland, among Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

"My printmaking over these many years has been influenced importantly by inter-disciplinary studies," said Chen, who has taught at Drake since 1996. "As a Guggenheim Fellow, I am most deeply honored in being associated with not only highly accomplished visual artists, but writers, scholars, and scientists."

Born in Chicago, Chen is descended from generations of sojourners and immigrants who labored under the force of anti-Chinese bigotry and the Chinese Exclusion Act. In his ongoing series of prints, he activates the dismantling of categories to redress historical events. His prints have been exhibited in numerous locations nationally and internationally and are held in major public collections throughout the country.

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