Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

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.

Lake Superior State University in Michigan has been issuing its "Banished Words List" since 1975.  The wordsmiths there now have over 800 entries on their list of overused, tired and shopworn words and phrases. 

Photo Courtesy of Dave Pittman

Thousands of Iowans are attending the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California tomorrow as part of Rose Bowl festivities. Three of this year’s floats are designed by Iowan Dave Pittman. He’s employed year round as a float designer and says companies sponsoring floats are spending up to half a million dollars on the event. 

Deb Zeller

A bronze statue stolen from downtown Sioux City will return by next summer, with some repairs and a new pedestal, which is designed to be more secure. So secure that Sioux City Art Center won't give too many details on the new mount for "Goddess of the Grapes." 

"Well if I told you, it wouldn't be a secured design," laughs Al Harris-Fernandez, director of the art center. "It's just something that will give us more to attach the sculpture onto so that it can't be easily removed." 

Photo Courtesy of Angie Hansen

With our 24 hours news cycle, it’s easy to get caught up in the crisis of the day. While all that is going on, however, individuals everywhere are making a difference by performing acts of kindness that will never make it into a newscast. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with a handful of Iowans touched by remarkable acts of kindness in 2015.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

In 1990, Steinway artist, pianist, and composer Dan Knight had organized an in-house choir at the University Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. Knight says one song struck them as special.

"Right in the middle of this particular song, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, there was this most amazing moment. It was kind of like, all of a sudden, something just kind of took off and the choir and the piano became one and we all just kind of went somewhere else. It was transformative."

After the song, a chaplain from the hospital approached him.

courtesy of Alex Braidwood

Have you ever wondered what a healthy lake sounds like?

Iowa based sound artist Alex Braidwood has. While he was working as an artist-in-residence for the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Regents Resource Center, a biological field station and nature preserve in Northwest Iowa, he devised a way to listen to the water.

He’s taken data being collected by a buoy floating in Lake Okoboji about water temperature and oxygen levels and has assigned each of the data points tones.

Bruno Bollaert / Flickr

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Karen Impola and Barney Sherman to look back at some of the best things to come out of the year in folk and classical music.

anjanettew / Flickr

The idea of giving someone a wonderful gift is joyful, but in reality gift giving can be tremendously stressful.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on the art and power of gift giving. She talks with gift expert Harry Liebersohn, author of The Return of the Gift: European History of a Global Idea, about the history of the gift exchanges and the place they hold in our culture. He refers to gifts as “the emotional language we used to bind ourselves together.”

There’s been a lot of great music released this year, and on this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa Public Radio Studio One Tracks hosts Mark Simmet and Tony Dehner about the best new independent and alternative albums of 2015. Then, we get an update about the best in new blues from Bob Dorr, who hosts Blue Avenue, Backtracks and Beatles Medley and is leader of The Blue Band.  

Mark Simmet’s list of best new tracks in 2015

Flickr / Pictures of Money

For nonprofit organizations in Iowa and around the country, today is “Giving Tuesday,” a day marking the unofficial start of the charitable-giving season. But before you give, it’s wise to checkout a charity’s credentials.

Photo by John Pemble

The national tour of the musical The Bridges of Madison County launched last weekend at the Des Moines Civic Center.  The story is based on the popular novel published in the 90s about a traveling photographer who is sent to Winterset to shoot the bridges for a magazine. He meets a married farm wife and the two fall in love during a week long affair. 

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Jazz is American music. It was born in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century, and it continues to evolve. During this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about Iowa's jazz scene in the past, present, and future. 

Roger Higgins, World Telegram staff photographer

For 65 years Charlie Brown has been getting kites stuck in trees, missing footballs, and getting hit by baseballs.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Karen Johnson, director of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, about why Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang still resonate with audiences, as well as the enduring legacy of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, 15 years after his death.

"He was always authentic," says Johnson about Schulz. "He said to many people, 'To know me is to read the strip; everything I am goes into that strip.'"

Photo by John Pemble

The chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts has concluded a two-day visit to Iowa, which included conducting research for the NEA's future.  In a Town Hall-style meeting in downtown Des Moines last night, NEA Chairman Jane Chu said she'd just met with Iowa arts leaders to help write an infrastructure report.  It will assess what resources will be required to expand a community's arts sector as part of the NEA’s new initiative called Creativity Connects.

John Pemble

The National Endowment for the Arts was created in 1965 under the Johnson Administration. NEA Chairman Jane Chu has been in office for a little over a year, and during that time she has traveled to 30 states. Chu is currently in Iowa, her first visit to the state as Chairman. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Chu about the NEA's current focus, the division's 50th anniversary, and whether we should be encouraging young people into a career in the arts.

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation / Wikimedia Commons

Every once in a while we hear about a child musical prodigy who can play an instrument better than most of us could ever dream of playing.  Few of these prodigies become adult stars, but Chris Thile is an exception. 

Thile started playing mandolin with the band Nickel Creek when he was only 8 years old, and he won his first Grammy at age 16.  Today, he fronts the band Punch Brothers and has been named a MacArthur Genius. Starting in early 2016, he’s going to be taking over as host of A Prairie Home Companion for Garrison Keillor.

Courtesy of Joseph Firecrow

Joseph Firecrow remembers growing up on the reservation and listening to the elders play the flute. He started learning the instrument when he was 18 and says a true Cheyenne flute player hasn’t mastered the craft until he can both play and make a flute.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa-based magician Nate Staniforth wants to bring wonder back to the modern world. He’s been practicing magic since he was about 10 years old and is on a mission to encourage people to embrace the unknown.

“Whatever happens at a magic show is tapping into something that fundamentally human,” he says. “If you perform at a kid’s party, it’s the adults in the back that are watching most closely. I think that’s because it reminds us of something we’ve lost… a sense of wonder, maybe.”

Alfred A. Knopf

Jane Smiley, who grew up near St. Louis, graduated from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and taught English at Iowa State from 1981 to 1996, has completed her "Last Hundred Years" literary trilogy with the final volume "Golden Age" (Alfred A.

Terry Gilliam spent the first 12 years of his life in Minnesota, but he would go on to become the one of the most beloved entertainers in British history.

He is one of the founding members of Monty Python and the man responsible for the art and animation that defined the look of the group.  He has a new memoir out, called Gilliamesque: A Pre-posthumous Memoir.

When asked how he feels about imitators, or people who have been inspired by his work, Gilliam says he feels proud.

Iowa State University College of Design

The act of making art can be powerful on a personal level, but it can also be a powerful force in a community. 

"Public art is like locally grown food," says Tom Stancliffe, art professor and sculptor at the University of Northern Iowa. "There's value in having the people around you shape the space."

Gretchen Dehner

Walter and Wagner Caldas grew up in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Their parents introduced them to classical music, urging them to stay away from drugs and violence. That push was the start of a remarkable journey.

"We started by ourselves," says Walter Caldas. "People would make fun of us. But then, this guy in Brazil started teaching music for the kids in the community, so they don't go through the same pattern of drug dealing and stuff. So that made it a little easier for us; we are not alone."

Sculpt Siouxland

Someone has stolen a bronze statue from downtown Sioux City. The city’s Art Center discovered "Goddess of the Grapes" was gone on Tuesday from it's 4th Street location, after doing an inventory of all the public art sculptures it maintains.

The roughly 20-inch statue depicts a young woman holding grapes, standing on her toes and reaching towards the sky. "Goddess of the Grapes" is owned by the nonprofit Sculpt Siouxland and maintained by the Sioux City Art Center.

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