Wine and Dine Week, new Pyramid show
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January 11, 2023

Check out this gazebo we designed and built to replace an old trellis. This enchanting space creates an outdoor gathering area while offering privacy from the street view.
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Purveyor in the East Village will offer Spanish seafood and chicken thigh paella during Winter Wine and Dine Week.

4 Dishes at Winefest’s Winter Wine and Dine Week

Writer: Karla Walsh

Be it due to budgetary resolutions, diet challenges or hiding out from the cold, the six-week span between the new year and Valentine’s Day is a notoriously quiet one for restaurants. Natasha Sayles, executive director of Winefest, and 11 restaurateurs are on a mission to inspire you to step out and dig in. As part of Winter Wine & Dine Week Jan. 22-28, chefs from the East Village, Ingersoll Avenue, Ankeny, Sherman Hill and beyond are offering creative, seasonal prix-fixe menus to draw us in. Each restaurant will offer optionalbut highly recommendedwine pairings for each of their three or four courses.

“All of the participating restaurants have been an integral part of Winefest in 2022. We love uplifting our partners that support us all year in so many ways,” Sayles says, explaining the inspiration for this first-time event.

Of course, diners win too. “I hope people book a table at a restaurant that they haven’t tried before, or experience something different at a familiar favorite,” Sayles says. “The restaurants have done an outstanding job of creating unique dishes, and the wine pairings will be a delightful complement.”

I’ve already reserved my spot to dine at Mulberry Street Tavern; the tikka sauce-topped salmon with Grenache Blanc-based Central Coast white wine blend sounds too stellar to skip. Peruse all the menus and learn more on the Winefest website. Then check out more combos that caught my eye:

503 Cocktail Lab and Tasting Room: In an entree duo that would make Julia Child proud, this new-in-2022 East Village gem is offering Beaujolais with Beef Bourguignon. The meat is braised in red wine and served with roasted vegetables, mashed Yukon potatoes, plus pickled onions and herbs to balance the richness.

Bubba: At this downtown Southern restaurant, cozy up to a bowl of cornmeal gnocchi with smoked ham shank and black-eyed pea ragu alongside a barrel-aged California red blend.

Purveyor: Pretend like you’re dining in the Mediterranean at this East Village provisions shop and wine bar. After sharing charcuterie and before a spread of creations from Nik Pugmire of Doré Bakery, split a platter of Spanish seafood and chicken thigh paella, which is becoming a signature special at Purveyor. Enjoy it all with your choice of their house red, white or rosé.

"Lysychansk Gymnasium" (2022) by Scott Charles Ross, 42 x 42 inches. Lysychansk is a city in Ukraine that was assaulted and captured by Russians last year.

New Exhibit to Help Ukrainians in Iowa

Writer: Christine Riccelli

When Russia invaded Ukraine last Feb. 24, artist Scott Charles Ross found himself “totally glued to the news. … The [war] really struck me in a way that nothing had ever before.” Haunted by the war’s brutality and as a way to do something to combat his distress, he began sketching scenes he saw in the news.

Nearly 11 months later, he’ll debut “Ukraine ’22 Project,” a series of 11 paintings plus the drawings they’re based on, at an exhibit opening Friday at Moberg Gallery. The reception, from 5 to 7 p.m., will include comments by Ross; Suzan M. Pritchett, a Drake Law School professor and an expert in immigration law; and Ukrainian students, among others.

The exhibit’s goal, Ross says, is to boost awareness of the war and the plight of Ukrainians as well as raise money to help displaced Ukrainians in Iowa. The paintings won’t be for saleinstead, Ross and Moberg are securing sponsors for the worksbut the drawings will be available to buy. All proceeds from the sales and sponsorships will help fund Drake Legal Clinic's newly established Humanitarian Legal Fund, which will support displaced individuals. After the two-week run at Moberg, the exhibit will travel to colleges, museums and other venues throughout the state.

Ross' evocative black and white works depict, for example, grave markers, bombed-out buildings and abandoned churches. He says his initial drawings included people, but he removed them to more vividly “show loss and the absence of life, the emptiness. … I found myself getting emotional … and tearing up as I worked on [the project].”

Moberg Gallery is at 2411 Grand Ave.; for more info and to see images of Ross’ works, visit the gallery’s website.

Reading in Public grand opening (Saturday, 9 a.m.): This local bookstore has been spotted selling in farmers markets and coffee shop pop-ups, but Saturday marks the official opening of the Reading in Public Bookstore + Cafe brick and mortar. See the shop’s brand-new space and browse the bookshelves while sipping on tea or coffee from their cafe. Check out their online store until then, or read about owner Linzi Murray’s favorite book of 2022 in this dsm article.

Botanical Blues (Sunday, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.): Visit the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden for two live jazz shows featuring blues band Major Blues and the Mugshots performing in the conservatory. Guests can wander the grounds as they enjoy the music, or take a seat and watch. Tickets will be sold at the door on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Access Matters - A Benefit Cabaret (Sunday, 5 p.m.): Local musician Napoleon M. Douglas tells the origin story of City Voices Des Moines–a nonprofit community-centered music education program–in this performance at Noce. The two-act show is told through the lens of the student whose story sparked the idea. Purchase tickets here.

Trendy plantscapes: Local interior designer Hunter Frescoln (pictured) recently opened a new showroom for his garden company the Trendy Gardener + Plantscapes at 1905 E.P. True Parkway in West Des Moines. The showroom features more than 60 varieties of plants, including about 40 subspecies of philodendrons. Learn more about Frescoln, the shop and services offered in this Business Record article.
Bravo gala: Bravo Greater Des Moines announced it will present Ballet Des Moines and the Iowa Asian Alliance with Spotlight Awards, as well as honor Kyle and Sharon Krause with this year’s Bravo Award during its annual awards gala Feb. 4 at Hy-Vee Hall. Tickets and corporate sponsorships are on sale now.
Creative support: The Des Moines Arts Festival announced it is expanding and launching new programming and tools to support creative entrepreneurs and the creative economy. These expansions include a new organization, ARTSwork, which will focus on professional development and capacity building for independent artists of all disciplines, and a professional development series in partnership with the Iowa Center for Economic Success called Creatives’ Breakfast Club. Read more from the official news release in this Business Record article.
January unveiling: Join us Jan. 17 at Stew Hansen in Urbandale for our first unveiling party of the year as we reveal the cover for our January issue. Plus, get the first look at the new issue while enjoying snacks and drinks. The event is 5 to 7 p.m., with a short program and distribution of the magazines at 6 p.m. Register for the free event here.
The cast of "The Piano Lesson" includes Daron Richardson standing in the back; Clifton Antoine, Larryah Travis and Colo Chanel in the top row; Ryan Collier, Tiffany Johnson and Aaron Smith in the middle row; and Emmett Phillips in front.

'The Piano Lesson' Explores Family Legacy

Writer: Christine Riccelli

August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “The Piano Lesson” will open Feb. 3 at Des Moines Community Playhouse. A co-production between Pyramid Theater Company and the Playhouse, the show chronicles the story of the Charles family, who in 1936 are at odds with one another over the fate of the family’s prized heirloom piano. The brother, Boy Willie, wants to sell the piano to buy land once worked by their enslaved ancestors, while his sister, Berniece, wants to keep it as a way of preserving family history.

“What will resonate with the audience is that this is a beautiful story about family and legacy,” says director Ken-Matt Martin, a co-founder of Pyramid who now lives in Chicago and has produced and directed shows across the country over the past six years. “You don’t have to belong to any particular culture or race to want a family legacy to pass down. [This show] is a reminder that family and community, not material things, are what get us through when it feels like the world is falling down around you.”

“The Piano Lesson” isn’t all serious, though, Martin emphasizes. “August Wilson is funny, and the cast is hilarious; they’re doing brilliant work,” he says. Ghosts and magic appear in the show as well, he adds: “I’m leaning into that element. We’re doing some really exciting things technically.”

The play is special to Martin and the cast—some of whom are longtime Pyramid actors—as the opening marks 10 years to the day when Pyramid did the reading for its first show, “Fences,” also an August Wilson play. “This is a really nice moment for the company, which has weathered the pandemic and has done stellar work over the years,” says Martin, whose directing schedule is booked through mid-2024 with shows at regional theaters throughout the U.S. as well as off-Broadway.

He adds he’s long dreamed of staging “The Piano Lesson” at the Playhouse and approached former artistic director John Viars about the idea more than a decade ago. “I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life for this [opportunity]," Martin says. "I feel at home back here with the actors I know and love. Of everything I have going on right now, I’m most excited about this.”

“The Piano Lesson” runs through Feb. 19; find more info and get tickets here.
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