Stained-Glass Exhibit, Gursha Ethiopian Grill, Farmers' Market
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February 23, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Judith Schaechter, "Beached Whale" (2018); courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery, Harlem, and the artist. The work, which the Des Moines Art Center has bought for its permanent collection, features a belly-up, dead whale with a man-made net wrapped around its body.


Writer: Christine Riccelli

Over the years, Judith Schaechter has received wide acclaim for her groundbreaking work in bringing stained glass into the 21st century. Within moments of stepping into the Des Moines Art Center’s new exhibit, “The Path to Paradise: Judith Schaechter’s Stained-Glass Art,” you realize that that almost feels like an understatement.

Hung from the wall in light boxes, the 45 riveting panels assuredly are unlike anything you’ve seen—or probably even imagined. They mesmerize with their vivid colors, complex compositions, layered patterns, and bold and often startling subject matter, ranging from the quotidian (pre-wedding jitters) to the disturbing (insanity, rape, infanticide) to the darkly funny (Satan on a toilet).

Whatever the specific subject, though, the juxtaposition of agony and ecstasy is a common thread in Schaechter's work, as are hope and redemption, concepts she has explored throughout her 40-year career. “You can have light only because it exists in the context of darkness,” she said in a phone interview from her Philadelphia studio. “I don’t want to depict only the dark side of humankind—that’s not even interesting. What’s interesting is how to transform what’s difficult into what’s bearable, understandable and meaningful—how to transform despair into hope.”

Females are often the central characters of her work. “I’ve always been interested in human figures, specifically females,” said Schaechter (pronounced Shec-ter—“rhymes with Lecter, as in Hannibal Lecter, which is how people remember it,” she said with a laugh). The purpose “isn’t to further the feminist agenda. I am who I am, and I want to identify with the characters in the work, so they tend to be female.”

Schaechter said she doesn’t strategize the specific themes of her work. “I’m not inspired by any one thing but try to let [the subjects] develop organically and intuitively,” she said. Indeed, the exhibit’s works were influenced by an intriguing array of historical and contemporary sources, including the Big Bang, an English Gothic rock band, the Romanov dynasty, comics, medieval altarpieces, New Orleans jazz funerals, a 1992 Supreme Court case.

Once a subject starts to emerge in her mind, Schaechter begins the long and complicated process of making the stained glass, starting with a series of sketches. At the exhibit, take the time to view the short video on her fascinating creative and technical process.

The difficulty of the work occasionally has made Schaechter briefly flirt with leaving it behind. “But stained glass—it’s love for me,” she said. “I fell in love with it 40 years ago,” the result of discovering that painting, which she was studying at the Rhode Island School of Design at the time, wasn’t for her.

Today, “as a craftsperson working in a medium that’s supposedly dead, I’m happy people are taking the time to take a look at my work,” she said. “I’ve never tried to make my work satisfy market trends. My philosophy is that I’m not that special, and so if I’m interested in [a particular topic], maybe others are, too, and maybe we’ll find each other.”

The exhibit runs through May 23. Admission is free, but because of the safety protocols in place, reservations (which can be same-day) are requested; click here to make yours.
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Salah Salah (left) and Sophia Omar are two of the people behind Gursha Ethiopian Grill.


Writer: Karla Walsh

Roughly translated from Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia, Gursha means “welcome” or “let me feed you.” That’s exactly what owner Salah Salah and his head chef, Ethiopian Sophia Omar, aim to do by opening Gursha Ethiopian Grill in the Drake neighborhood.

Salah, who is Somalian-Egyptian and also owns Hilal Grocery in the same area, would often receive queries from customers about what local restaurants serve African cuisine. Realizing he had very few answers, Salah decided to help fill that gap, opening Gursha's doors on Jan. 19. Similar to a Chipotle or Subway model, you begin by choosing your base: injera bread or rice.

“In Ethiopia, injera bread comes with every meal. It’s kind of like a tortilla in Mexico,” Salah says.

Then you choose two of 10 vegan or meat topping options for the build-your-own selection, or opt for a combo plate to sample five small-sized portions. Veggies are fresh, spices are warm and takeout is easy. And all are welcome.

“American, African ... this restaurant is for all. We’re already receiving feedback from all over,” Salah says. So far, that feedback includes raves like “When I am rich, I will special order blanket-sized injera so I can snack while watching TV."

Give Gursha a go 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday at 2316 University Ave. Learn more and see the menu here.
Tigers are just one of many animals featured as lanterns at the upcoming Wild Lights Festival.


Blank Park Zoo
will host the Wild Lights Festival, which will feature more than 35 handcrafted, animal-shaped Asian lanterns, April 1 through May 31.The event has toured across the country, showcasing lighted creatures such as tigers, rhinos, swans and even dragons.

“This amazing festival is designed to wow you, and it’s unlike anything that has been in Iowa before,” Anne Shimerdla, the zoo's president and CEO, said in a statement. “Incredibly talented artisans design and fabricate lighted displays that incorporate Asian themes into a festival of light and culture.”

The goal of the event is to kick off Blank Park Zoo's 2021 summer season with a fun event, Shimerdla added. Nightly attendance will be limited and face coverings required.

Public tickets go on sale Thursday for $20 per person; $18 for zoo members. The Wild Lights Festival will run from 7 to 10 p.m. each night. Learn more on the Zoo's website.
    Large crowds at the Des Moines Downtown Farmers' Market are gone—for now. The event returns in 2021 with safety protocols in place.


    Writer: Michael Crumb
    Business Record

    The Des Moines Downtown Farmers' Market is back in 2021, but with some changes designed to keep patrons and vendors safe.
    The season will begin on May 1 and will be scaled back to only include local vendors providing fresh produce and farm and artisan packaged food. It will return to the Historic Court District with social distancing guidelines in accordance with Centers for Disease Control recommendations.

    According to a news release, about 110 vendors are expected, about half the number of a traditional Saturday market before the pandemic. Vendors will be spaced farther apart, and patrons will be encouraged to maintain a 6-foot distance from one another. Masks will also be required for all vendors and customers. Customer traffic will be limited to one-way paths to ensure a safe shopping process.  

    The Downtown Farmers' Market was effectively canceled last year, replaced by a drive-through market in the summer and fall months. Read more details in the Business Record's report here.


      If you have children who like to cook or need a fun at-home activity, here's a chance to do it for a good cause. The annual Cook for a Cause, which encourages children and teenagers to make food and donate it to those in need, begins in March. The event is run by Real Food 4 Kids, which is accepting homemade meals as well as monetary donations. Registration is due by March 1.

      Real Food 4 Kids will provide recipe ideas, directions and help with logistics. All meals will be distributed to school-aged kids and their families through local schools. You can also make a monetary donation by March 22. Funds will be used in partnership with the Justice League of Food, which helps teach previously food-insecure children how to cook to help others in need.

      Learn more about Cook for a Cause and how you can help here.

      For more ideas on how you can help fight hunger, consider attending our next Iowa Stops Hunger virtual event, "Suddenly Hungry," hosted with our sister publications the Business Record and ia magazine, on March 11. Experts and front-line workers will discuss challenges they continue to face and provide ways you can help to help Iowans in need. Registration is free.

      Iowa Stops Hunger is an 18-month Business Publications Corp. initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa.

      A touch of lavender oil helps induce sleep, something many of us struggled with last year.

      3 WAYS TO LEVEL UP IN 2021

      Writer: Karla Walsh

      It’s February, and while that means we are almost two months into the new year, you still have plenty of time to start on those goals. Although resolutions can be motivating in some ways, they also can quickly zap the joy in our lives if they’re restrictive, rather than additive. (For example, “I’m going to stop eating chocolate,” or “No carbs after noon.”)

      “It seems that people end up being disappointed as few resolutions are actually achieved,” says Jami Haberl, executive director of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. “It’s almost like we all know that we are going to fail, so the minute we get off course of that resolution, it’s a lost cause from day one.”

      To set yourself up for resolution success, Haberl recommends starting with one small change you can tackle in a month. If you master it for four weeks, it’s more likely to become a habit.

      “And instead of beating yourself up if you have an off day, shake it off and remember tomorrow is a new day and you can start again,” she says.

      Above all, Haberl says, “find something that is fun. You’ll be more likely to actually achieve that resolution if you don’t pick something you hate. Being healthy shouldn’t be punishment; it should be positive.”

      With that in mind, here are three ideas for resolutions that don’t suck—and that actually add abundance and goodness to your life. And remember: If you fall off track, you don’t lack discipline. You’re human.

      Find three ways to level up in 2021, from our January/February issue.
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