Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

ACE Foundation / Flickr

The University of Northern Iowa's Jazz Hall of Fame has a new inductee - Roger Maxwell. Maxwell is a talented trombone player, in addition to a teacher and composer. He's also a trailblazer and advocate for the African-American community in Iowa. 

During his childhood in Marshalltown, segregation was very real. He couldn't go to the pool, except for a two hour period on Sunday mornings, and blacks weren't allowed to stay in local hotels. 

"We just accepted the conditions. We knew where we could not go, and we just accepted that," he says. 

MarKaus, Des Moines based artist

Des Moines based hip hop artist MarKaus (@MarKausMF), his record label, and the Des Moines Social Club are collaborating to produce a hip hop festival in Des Moines to highlight the Iowa hip hop scene. After reading that, you might be thinking, “Iowa has a hip hop scene?” It does, and it’s growing.

John Pemble

A new art exhibit with works by troubled teens about social justice issues is now in a downtown Des Moines gallery. The effort is organized by ArtForce Iowa, a non-profit group working with teens going through the court system.  The centerpiece was created this spring in a classroom at the Polk County Juvenile Detention Center.  

Photo by John Pemble

For 20 years, the Red Cedar Chamber Music ensemble has been led by a husband and wife dedicated to performing classical music they commissioned in rural venues like the community center in Central City.  This is a town with less than 2,000  people near Cedar Rapids. On a Friday night, 50 people are listening to Red Cedar perform a new piece by Stephen Cohn titled “Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight.”  

 

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

When Prince’s death followed just two months after the death of David Bowie, some music lover’s bemoaned that the year 2016 was cursed. Indeed, both deaths seemed to cause an outsize outpouring of grief from across the U.S. and around the globe. Doug Gentile, associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University, says while both figures were undoubtedly influential to all generations, part of that grief has to do with when fans first discovered it.

Courtesy of UI Special Collections

The historic Brinton collection almost got lost to the sands of time, or, less poetically, the dirt of the landfill.

“Some of it was in boxes labeled ‘Brinton C-R-A-P.’ It seemed that the future was in doubt,” says Michael Zahs, the man who saved the collection.

Ben Kieffer

Since 1967, over 1,400 writers from more than 140 countries have taken part in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, often referred to as the “United Nations of writers.”

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with several of this year’s writers who attended a welcome party in Iowa City earlier this week. They share poetry, their hopes for their time in the Midwest, and the struggles and inspiration they have brought with them from their home countries.

Peter Tea / Flickr, Licensed Under Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode

Rock icon Prince died April 21, 2016 at his home and studio in Minneapolis. He was 57.

Since the news of his death, fans from all over the country gathered to play his music, including Des Moines native Corey Taylor, frontman for the bands Slipknot and Stone Sour who played "Purple Rain" and "Little Red Corvette" at Minneapolis' First Avenue Club.

The student art exhibit that just went up in Drake University’s Harmon Fine Arts Center crosses the intersection between art and the natural world. It’s the result of work created in a class called Planets. 

Drake associate art professor Angela Battle is pawing through an untidy box of display materials as she searches for things by which student artwork might attach to a gallery wall.

“See all the stuff required to hang an exhibition," she says. "Where are they?”

When Luke Benson started approaching other music lovers in the state about his idea for the Iowa Music Project, he did not anticipate that the end result would be a showcase where he and a committee would be trying to pick fewer than 30 songs from more than 250 submissions. 

"We were hoping for maybe 100, and we got that many in the last week alone. It was a tremendous response," says Benson. 

Paul Starnes

While it wasn't written about the Vietnam War, the song "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" by The Animals became an iconic song at the time, and now signifies the era.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Craig Werner and Doug Bradley, co-authors of the new book, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam Warwhere they explore the role of music in connecting veterans both during combat and after they returned home. 

Kata Rokkar / Flickr

Marc Maron, comic and host of the popular podcast WTF, is coming to Iowa as part of the Mission Creek festival. He'll be performing at the Englert Theatre on Friday night. In this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe spoke with him about vulnerability, the impact success has on creation, and the quality of his phone line.

Lee Wright / Flickr

State Sen. Matt McCoy from Des Moines, co-chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Capitals Appropriations Subcommittee, said last week that lawmakers don’t back Gov. Terry Branstad’s proposal to spend $65 million to demolish part of the 234,000 square foot state historical facility and renovate the rest. He’s proposed an alternative plan.

Photo Courtesy of Peter Aguero

Peter Aguero, Moth GrandSLAM champion and instructor for the Moth Community Program, started telling stories for The Moth in 2007 after finding a community at an open mic story slam in New York City. 

"I put my name is the hat, and I got picked. I told a terrible story," he says. "It didn't have any structure, and it didn't make sense. After that, the producer said 'that wasn't great, but you should come back.'" 

He went back because of the community. 

Iowa photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier and Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt of the Pines are working together on a new project that merge art, music and a concern for a blighted rural landscape. Wilcox Frazier says the collaboration began when the three connected on their Iowa roots.

“If you grow up as an artist or a musician, you see this rich cultural heritage in Iowa and you begin to wonder as your travel around how things became the way they are. For us, this is a longing for home,” he says.

Clay Masters

When it comes to Daylight Saving Time in the spring, there are two camps of people - the ones who hate it and the ones who don't mind. Iowa Public Radio Morning Edition host Clay Masters says he doesn't necessarily hate the time change, but it isn't his favorite time of year. 

"When I started hosting Morning Edition, I knew the hours I was signing up for," he laughs. "It took some conditioning."

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Hip-hop artist Dahlak Brathwaite was arrested after being caught with magic mushrooms as a youth.  During a show he calls Spiritrials, he raps about his arrest and how he was treated by the criminal justice system. 

"The way the criminal justice system is set up, if you are caught with drugs, you are labeled as a drug addict who needs help," he says.

Photo Courtesy of Pyramid Theatre Company

Pyramid Theatre Company, which intends to feature black actors and draw from plays by black playwrights, is announcing their opening season in Des Moines this summer. Ken Matt-Martin, founder and executive director of the company, says a company with this mission is needed.  

courtesy of the The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

Wacky costumes, ukuleles and confetti are not usually a part of orchestral performances. The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra is trying to change that, and they’re touring Iowa this week. Age Pryor, the band's co-founder, says that when the group got started, they were really just a ukulele jam band meeting at the local cafe. 

Christina Lynn Johnson, / Wikimedia Commons

His instrument was small, but his persona was not. Herbert Khaury, known as “Tiny Tim,” was born in New York in the late 30s, became a star in the 60s and later moved to Iowa for a time before he died in 1996.

Justin Martell, author of a new biography about Tiny Tim, says that he first became aware of the musician at a Halloween theme park.

Photo Courtesy of the Institute for Figuring

The Paleozoic Era is the last time a coral reef existed in Iowa. Now, with the help of some dedicated crocheters, a coral reef, or an approximation of one, will be in the state once again.

Margaret Wertheim is the co-creator of the Crochet Coral Reef. First created in her native Australia and now spread to 35 cities in 12 countries, complex coral reefs are woven from yarn by groups of volunteers in imitation of a rapidly dying natural phenomenon.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

The list of extracurricular activities for kids these days is almost endless, but for many years opportunities to sing, dance, act, and perform excluded kids with special needs. And when those kids become adults, those opportunities are even harder to find.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Doctors and nurses in military hospitals after World War Two saw the benefits of music.

They watched their patients improve under its sway. In recent years, scientists have shown it has special powers as we grow older. 

It doesn’t take musician Bill Connet long to win over his audience at Wesley Acres retirement community in Des Moines.

Elaine Aronson

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Cydney Kelley, a screenwriter in Los Angeles who writes for the new sitcom, Zoe Ever After.

The show debuted on January 6th and stars actress and singer Brandy Norwood as a newly single mom and business woman in New York City.

Kelley grew up a long way from New York City and Hollywood, in Cedar Falls. In this interview, she talks about how she made her way from the Midwest to the City of Angels, and she paints a picture of what it's like to write for television.

TEDx MidAtlantic / Flickr

Before Iowans make up their minds before caucus night, Jose Antonio Vargas wants them to consider a few more perspectives. The founder of Define American, a non-profit organization dedicated to pushing forward the conversation around immigration, he decided to bring that discussion to Iowans through film.

"The conversation is way too simplified. We don't have enough context and we don't have enough facts. The goal of this festival at its core is to really humanize the issue and to present a vast array of stories. There isn't one immigrant story."

Lottery Winner Bought Ticket in Onawa, Iowa

Jan 15, 2016

Out of that $1.6 billion dollar Powerball jackpot drawn earlier this week, there were eight $2 million winning tickets nationwide, one of which was bought in Onawa, Iowa at a Casey's gas station.

"If you think about it, this jackpot was growing for more than two months until it was finally won on Wednesday in the drawing. The Iowa lottery sold about $34.2 million in Powerball tickets. In fiscal year 2015, the Iowa Lottery only sold $52.2 million in tickets," says Mary Neubauer, Vice President of External Relations for the Iowa Lottery. 

Photo Courtesy of Alyssa Leicht

If you dreamed about running away to join the circus, it’s not too late. In fact, you don’t even have to run away. There’s a growing community of circus performers right here in Iowa. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Felicia Coe and Laura Ernst, who are the co-founders of the Iowa Circus Academy in Des Moines. 

They are offer circus fitness classes for beginners, flexibility classes, and more advanced courses as well. 

Still rendered by Josh Larson

In 2010, Colorado video game developer Ryan Green's one year old son was diagnosed with cancer. To cope with what eventually became a four year struggle with the disease, he channeled his creative energy into an interactive project about what it’s like for his family to be in this situation.  This was around the time he met Des Moines game developer Josh Larson. Larson says they quickly realized they had a shared vision of what video games could be.

The subject matter of comic books goes far beyond the Marvel and DC superheroes we all know.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about how black women are represented in comics and graphics novels, as well as their influence on the industry, with Deborah Whaley, the author of Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels and Anime.

Stanford University’s marching band generated quite a load of controversy at the Rose Bowl last week when they played the FarmersOnly.com jingle, and brought a giant cow onto the field  then proceeded to tip it. But the band is known for trolling its opponents and has upset scores of fans at three out of the last four Rose Bowls.

During this hour on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band Director Kevin Kastens about Iowa’s performance at the Rose Bowl and about marching band styles and culture across the country.

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