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ia: The best of Iowa arts and culture
MARCH 25, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
 
Produced in partnership with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
 
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Gabi Torres opened an art studio in Clinton earlier this year, GBArt Studio & Gallery. Photo: Ari Lewerenz.

IN CLINTON, ARTIST SEES A BLANK CANVASS

Writer: Michael Morain
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs


Gabi Torres has been busy these days. The Clinton artist opened an art studio and gallery in February, hosted its first art class this past Sunday, and has been painting ever-larger commissions after her artwork appeared in British Vogue and House & Garden magazines. She is sending work for upcoming shows in Paris, Madrid, Genoa and Milan.

“It’s just been poppin’. I don’t know how else to put it,” she says.

Her journey back to her hometown was a long one. The artist, 42, earned an MFA in poetry in New York, spent six years in South Korea, and crisscrossed the United States on a 100-day road trip to some national parks and “hipster cities”—Asheville, Austin, Portlandbefore landing back in Clinton.

“We just started looking at houses on a whim and realized all the things we like are right here,” she says.

She got into painting a few years ago, when she was polishing off a poetry manuscript, and realized how much she appreciated the art form as an outlet for creative expression and a tool for healing. As she puts it, “art can create a safe space to work stuff out.”

Soon enough, her painting projects started taking over her house. So she rented a 1,300-square-foot space near the river and opened GBArt Studio & Gallery, where she displays abstract and contemporary artwork by local artists and teaches students of all ages to create some of their own. Her first class was for a family with kids in grade school. (To book a class, email her at gabibirdartist@gmail.com.)

Next she'd like to establish a residency program to host artists who could live in Clinton for a few months, free of charge, and help the community create public art.

“There’s so much opportunity in Clinton right now,” she says. “I think we’re entering a Golden Age here, a real renaissance.”
 
 
The Wieting Theatre in Toledo will reopen in late April after sustaining damage during last year's derecho.

WIETING THEATRE REOPENS FOR ANOTHER ACT

Writer: Montana Smith
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

There was even more drama than usual last summer at Toledo’s Wieting Theatre. Like most of the town, the historic building took a direct hit from the derecho, when 140 mph winds tore apart the roof, damaged some plaster inside and knocked out the power for days.

Fortunately, volunteers cleaned up the mess and received a federal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, through the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, to help with repairs not covered by insurance.

So by the end of April, the 109-year-old property on the National Register of Historic Places will reopen for movies and other programs, at a limited capacity.

“Repairing this national historic property is critical so we can reopen to offer opportunities to our diverse, low-income community,” says Michelle Evans, the theater’s treasurer.

Meanwhile, the theater is hosting a local high school production of the comedy “Noises Off.” The students are recording it on the Wieting stage so they can project it, drive-in style, April 8-10 in the parking lot at the local elementary school.

Other community arts programs—online and in person—are in the works for the spring and summer. Check online for details.
 
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This painting is featured in Davenport's Figgie Art Museum's "For America" exhibition, available to view online or in person. John Frederick Kensett, "The Bash-Bish" (1855); courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

ART MUSEUM SHOWCASES VIRTUAL ART, EVENTS

The Figgie Art Museum in Davenport has hosted a number of exhibitions and events over the past few months, both in person and virtually. Currently, there are five exhibitions available to view online, including its main showcase "For America," which has more 90 works created by some of the most well-known American artists between 1810 and 2010, such as Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, John Singer Sargent and Andrew Wyeth.

The museum also has virtual events planned through April. At 1 p.m. tomorrow, Figgie is partnering with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for a virtual tour. And at 6:30 p.m. on April 8, the University of Iowa Dance Company will perform on the virtual stage to celebrate the "For America" exhibition. Find the full list of events here.

The Figgie Art Museum offers full tours online. For those interested in visiting in person, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday.
 
 
Oskaloosa's Lamberson home, built in 1951, is one of seven Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes in Iowa.
Photo: Iowa Architectural Foundation


TAKE A TRIP BACK TO THE 20TH CENTURY

The Iowa Architectural Foundation will continue its virtual home tours series next month, featuring four homes with the midcentury modern design style that was popular between around 1945 and 1969. The event, "Mid-Century Modern Homes of Iowa Tours," takes place April 26-29, with a live Q&A with the homeowners at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 1.

Houses include Oskaloosa's famed Lamberson home (pictured above), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and restored by the current homeowners. There's also a home in Indianola, designed by architect David Block, who will join for the tour; a home in Des Moines, designed by architect Amos Emery; and a second in Oskaloosa, designed by Steffen Stoltz Nelson Architects.

Admission to the five-day event, which you can buy here, is $48. Tours will be released one day at a time starting on April 26.
 
 
Stephens Auditorium will continue is slate of online shows, helping to host the national performance of "Rock of Ages." Photo: Rock of Ages Hollywood

'ROCK OF AGES' FEATURES ON THE VIRTUAL STAGE

I wanna rock—virtually! Iowa State's Stephens Auditorium in Ames is hosting a one-day online showing of "Rock of Ages," a Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical showcasing popular songs from the 1980s, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 24.

A bevy of Tony Award-nominated performers (many of them from the original musical, which debuted on Broadway in 2009) will make appearances, including Constantine Maroulis. Laura Bell Bundy, Kerry Butler and others. The show will be broadcast from the Bourbon Room venue in Los Angeles.

Tickets start at $27 and include live as well as on-demand viewing for 24 hours following the show. Buy your spot here to ensure proceeds benefit Stephens Auditorium, which has been partnering to host a number of virtual shows across the country.
 
 
A Harvey Wallbanger, which includes vodka, Gilliano and orange juice, is one of the many cocktails at Ken's, a Prohibition-style speakeasy bar in Des Moines. Photo: Ken's

DRINK UP THESE COCKTAILS AROUND IOWA

Warmer temperatures are here. Bars across the state are opening with safety protocols in place. Now's a good time to grab a quick cocktail at these speakeasy-style spots.

Iowa Taproom (Des Moines): While you wait for a seat upstairs at this East Village spot, check out Ken’s, the not-so-secret basement speakeasy. Try cocktails like Bootlegger’s Breakfast, County Line Transfer, Dilley’s Printing Press Punch and Hot Buttered Rye. (215 E. Third St.)

Cellar 626 (Ames): In the back of Cyclone Liquors (enter through the beer cooler door), the Cellar is a classy lounge garbed in modern decor. The cocktails, twists on classics, are named for current and former employees: The Stan is an Old-Fashioned with an ice ball, the Hannah is a vodka basil smash, and Mercer Style is an Italian margarita. Expect heavy pours. (632 Lincoln Way)

R.G. Books Lounge (Cedar Rapids): Open the door in a bookcase wall to enter a dimly lit room with more books. Play the United Nations card by ordering an Irish Russian in Cancun (Patron coffee liqueur, Stoli, cream and Bailey’s). Or stick to one country with the French (Stoli Razberi, Chambord and pineapple juice). For domestic bliss, try RG’s Sazerac (rye, absinthe, bitters, sugar and lemon twist). (3611 First Ave. S.E.)

 
 
 
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