Arts & Culture

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The murder of a gender fluid teenage in Burlington has brought attention to the treatment and resources available for transgender students and their friends and teachers in Iowa. Iowa Safe Schools is hosting the first Transgender Education Summit in Iowa on November 17th in Des Moines, and Executive Director of Iowa Safe Schools Nate Monson says that its hard to get an estimate on how many trans students are attending public school in Iowa. 

In the 1500s, the largest settlement in the United States was in Northwest Iowa. It was a settlement of more than 6,000 residents from various Native American tribes. A new documentary Good Earth: Awakening the Silent City tells the story of the once great city in Lyon County. 

"It's part of a national historic landmark," explains the film's director Kelly Rundle. "If you think about the year that we are depicting in the film, which is around 1650, Boston had maybe 2000 residents, and Good Earth had between 6-10,000 residents 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Actors huddle around microphones as foley artists create sound effects with musicians. They are performing a scene about a teenager running away from gunfire in Burundi. This is Pang!, a three-act play presented as radio theater on a stage at CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids.

Image courtesy of Witching Hour Festival

Iowa City native Dan Perkins, aka Tom Tomorrow, is the creator of This Modern World, a weekly political and satirical cartoon which has been a mainstay of the alternative press for more than two and a half decades. He says that the country's tense political environment lately has been challenging in many ways, and the speed at which news is made is particularly difficult. 

Image by Rob Holysz

Hari Kondabolu, a New Yorker and first-generation American of Indian descent, is an awarded comedian who has a problem with the negative stereotypes of southeast Asians and Indian people in the media. He explores that frustration in his new documentary “The Problem with Apu,” which highlights the effect of the character on his life growing up. 

Author Sarah Miller remembers first reading the Little House on the Prairie books when she was in 4th grade. She says when she went back to reread them as an adult, she saw there was more going on than she picked up on as a young adult. 

"I thought about Ma. I read a scene where Laura wakes up and Ma is sitting by the window and has a pistol in her lap," she says. "If you're the lady in the rocking chair, it's your job to make everything safe and cozy. And you don't know if it's all going to work out that way."

iowa city
Kris / flickr

The Trump administration announced Thursday it is leaving UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organization, but Iowa City still expects to keep its designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon says he is "profoundly disappointed" by the decision, but he does not believe this will change Iowa City’s designation.

"Our relationship is directly with UNESCO as a city," Kenyon says. "The designation was conferred upon Iowa City by UNESCO directly, so I don’t see a way that this would have an impact on that."

Courtesy of Tracy Peterson

Johnson County has declared that from now on, Columbus Day will be recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Iowa City has also made the proclamation - joining dozens of cities across the U.S. in doing so.

In this News Buzz edition of River to River, Ben Stanton talks with Tracy Peterson, an Iowa City resident who has been pushing for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Day since the 1990s.

Image courtesy of North End Update

Every Friday at 4PM, North End Update's live Facebook show shares good news about an area of Waterloo that normally is portrayed in a negative light. Upon tuning in, you hear their signature "Boomshakalaka!"

Joshalyn “Rocki” Johnson and Cheryl “Chaveevah” Banks Ferguson are the duo behind the show. 

You may have noticed during this pledge drive that we had some new music beds that we used as we were taking a minute to talk about how wonderful it feels to support Iowa Public Radio financially. If you heard any of those and thought, "huh, I like that, wonder what song it is," we've got your back. 

Martin St-Amant / Wikimedia Commons

For her newest book, author and traveler Lori Erickson went in search of places where she felt something special. In her new memoir, she visits holy sites all over the world and says that Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God is similar to what "St. Augustine might have written if he was born a Lutheran in Iowa."

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, she talks with Charity Nebbe about her travels.

Drake University

The Metro Arts Alliance of Greater Des Moines is ending operations after nearly 42 years, citing a lack of grant funding. 

The alliance is perhaps best known for arts education programming and the annual Jazz in July series, which celebrated its 35th year this summer.

Executive Direct Angela Ossian wouldn't say whether the drop in funding was from government or private sources, or both.

Deb Zeller

A 20-inch bronze statue in Sioux City has been stolen for the second time in as many years. “Goddess of the Grapes” was reportedly taken sometime around the end of June from the downtown area, though the Sioux City Art Center waited until July 17 to report the theft to police.

Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa.

A new online collection of primary source materials from Iowa and U.S. history is up and running as of today. The Primary Source Sets contain 174 items, including photographs, maps, audio recordings and documents.

The online collection was created for K-12 educators who are now required to teach Iowa history as part of their curriculums, though anyone can access the materials.

Flickr / Phil Roeder

This year, the Iowa State Fair’s youngest thrill seekers will be able to enjoy rides and games away from the faster, taller, scarier rides that are geared towards older children or adults.

Thrill Town is designed for the families who are still pushing around strollers. The idea is to create a calm, kid-friendly atmosphere that’s away from attractions like the "Haunted Mansion" or "Spaceroller."

Steve Gibbons

December of this year marks the 60th anniversary of the premiere of The Music Man on Broadway; it was written and composed by Mason City native Meredith Willson.  In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores what the musical says about Iowa and why the music and story have remained popular.

First, we visit the Des Moines Community Playhouse, which has one last weekend of performances of their production of The Music Man.  We hear from actors Brad Church and Katy Merriman who play Harold Hill and Marian Peroo.  

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Around the 4th of July in Iowa, more than 4,000 Iowans are employed as pyrotechnicians setting up, wiring, and tearing down fireworks displays.

J and M Displays, a company based in Yarmouth, sells many of the professional fireworks that are lit across the state. Monte Whitlock leads a professional pyrotechnics crew for J and M Displays and sells fireworks. He urges people to keep in mind the folks who are lighting the displays on the 4th.

Bravo Greater Des Moines

As the annual Des Moines Arts Festival gets underway, an arts support council is releasing an economic impact study. The results are meant to show the arts contribute to more than just the quality of life.

The study for the organization Bravo Greater Des Moines was conducted by the national group Americans for the Arts. It shows the arts are a $185 million industry in Central Iowa and employ nearly 5,700 full-time workers. The executive director of Bravo, Sally Dix, says the arts play a serious economic role.

Iowa State University College of Design

This program originally aired on October 14, 2015.

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."

International Jugglers' Association

The 70th International Juggler’s Association Festival is set to take place at Cedar Rapids’ Paramount Theater on July 10-16th. The festival will include technical training workshops, a juggling history museum, a youth showcase performance, and a free ‘learning zone’ for aspiring jugglers.

The festival will open with a Welcome Show on Tuesday and close out with a show by the Cascade of Stars on Saturday, which is comprised of professional juggling and circus acts from around the world.

Chad Pregracke, president of Living Lands and Waters, a river clean up and educational organization, has a different kind of project that's going on display at the Figge Art Museum this month.

For nearly 20 years, he’s been traveling along the Mississippi and other rivers around the United States to clean up waste. During that time span, he’s collected a lot of things, like bowling pins, bowling balls, claw foot tubs, and a hand full of messages in a bottle.

Joyce Russell/IPR

An Iowa author’s book about Governor Branstad’s long tenure in office is being translated into Chinese by a Beijing publisher.  

Newton author and former newspaperman Mike Chapman wrote Iowa’s Record Setting Governor: The Terry Branstad Story in 2015.  

Two Chinese publishers expressed an interest in translating the book.

Screenshot: Iowa Public Television's "Greetings From Iowa"

Iowa Public Television has unveiled their new digital-first series "Greetings from Iowa."  In this Talk of Iowa conversation, host Charity Nebbe talks with IPTV Producer/Director Tyler Brinegar who developed the series and IPTV's Digital Content Manager Taylor Shore.  

iowa city
Kris / flickr

Iowa City has been selected to host a meeting of the world’s UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Delegates from all over the world will be in town for a three-day meeting in 2018. Past meetings have been held in Barcelona, Dublin and Heidelberg, Germany.

City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon says it’s an opportunity to show off Iowa City and highlight what makes it a City of Literature.

Fredrik Rubensson / Flickr

In 1964, just weeks away from graduating from Grinnell College, Dennis Maulsby decided his best option after college would be to voluntarily enter the military. After returning from the Vietnam War almost five years later, he channeled his war experiences into various creative outlets, ultimately pursuing writing poetry. He self-published his first book, Remembering Willy, and All the Others, and received silver medal awards from veterans associations. His latest book, Free Fire Zone is a collection of short military stories.

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

A Republican proposal to get rid of Iowa’s Art in State Buildings program sparked a contentious debate in the Iowa Senate Thursday.  

The program sets aside a small percentage of the cost of state building projects to commission onsite paintings and sculpture.  

GOP lawmakers say they’ve heard a lot of criticism about the artworks on campuses, at rest stops, and around the capitol complex.  

Since the program began in 1979, art work has been included in some 160 state buildings

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

A program to encourage the installation of art in Iowa’s public buildings is on the chopping block at the statehouse.  

A Republican-sponsored budget bill eliminates the Art in State Buildings program enacted under the leadership of Republican Governor Robert Ray back in 1979.   

Works of art can be  viewed  at more  than 160 public buildings in Iowa, many of them by Iowa artists, as a result of the program that captures  one-half of one percent of the cost of public buildings to commission paintings or sculptures.  

Lit City Episode Ten: Forgotten by History

Apr 13, 2017
IMDb

Like the title character of her 1933 novel Miss Bishop, Iowa-born author Bess Streeter Aldrich is finally getting the recognition she deserves. Although she wrote 14 novels and countless popular short stories, Aldrich was long forgotten... until recently, that is, when her hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa decided to name an elementary school after her.

D Sharon Pruitt / Flickr

According to professor of psychology, Marianne Lafrance, our hair plays a bigger role in our lives than we might think. She says there is a psychological impact of having a bad hair day. 

In her research, Lafrance found that a majority of people are inclined to have lower self-esteem on bad hair days.

Michael M. Huang/Studio Reserved

In Iowa there are hundreds of old schools, post offices, and churches that sit vacant. Some of them have been given new life as apartments, or as makers spaces and hubs for creativity. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Michael Wagler of Main Street Iowa. We also check in with several Iowans who have been working to reimagine these old buildings. 

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