Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

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.

Djh57 / Wikimedia Commons

There’s a new music festival, Hinterland, in Des Moines this summer, and other communities in Iowa are looking to get involved in the summer festival scene. This year marks the third anniversary of Fairfield’s “Fairfest,” a free weekend series of concerts and the Gentlemen of the Road Tour is stopping over in Waverly this weekend.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Examples of public art are appearing across Iowa in parks, on street corners, and in the lobbies of office buildings. Sculptor Bounnak Thammavong has been commissioned to create a piece that will be seen by thousands of travelers passing through the Des Moines International Airport.

On a late spring afternoon, Thammavong melts aluminum using a welding torch in his garage-turned-studio behind his house in Swisher.

History lessons about World War II often focus on places where battles were fought, but a new play examines the conflict’s effect on life in a small town.  The story for “Bonds of War” centers around real events and people working at the Adair County Free Press in Greenfield, Iowa during the 1940s.  It’s written by Des Moines author John Busbee.

Courtesy of the Justice Corps of Iowa / Facebook

With comic books, science fiction, and superheroes, geek culture is having a moment. Phil Hester, a comic book illustrator and author from North English, Ia, says that is due to its traction in mainstream movies.

“Now all this stuff that you couldn’t dream of looking real, sounding real, and moving in a real way, now can be done on screen. That has opened it up to a sea of people that wouldn’t be caught dead walking in a comic book store.”

John Bollwitt

Traditional, big American breweries are in the midst of a global identity crisis. Meanwhile, craft beer microbreweries in the U.S. are flourishing like never before.

Clay Masters / IPR

Around the start of the new millennium, the eyes of the nation turned to Omaha, Neb., and bands like Bright Eyes and its label Saddle Creek Records. As it often does, the spotlight has flickered elsewhere in the search of what's next. But Omaha's music scene is still going strong: there are a number of new albums coming out this year with ties to the Midwestern city.

Emily Woodbury

When you put together your perfect playlist, how much of the music comes from your youth?

A new study says that most people stop seeking out new music around age 33, and some people believe that our most important cultural tastes are set in our teen years.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Twenty-one months of construction on a public space in downtown Des Moines is nearing completion.

Cowles Commons – once known as Nollen Plaza – has been undergoing a 12-million-dollar renovation since September of 2013.

Des Moines Performing Arts, which operates the Civic Center across the street from the Commons, has been leading the project.

Its president and C-E-O Jeff Chelesvig says there were some structural design elements that slowed reconstruction.

Lindsey Moon

Last summer Beth Howard hosted her last pitchfork pie stand in Eldon at the American Gothic House. This year, she's reviving the stand, but this time she's opening up shop on the other side of the world. 

Howard will be hosting around 1,200 people at U.S. Embassy in Thailand on the fourth of July this summer as one of her last stops on her “World Piece” tour. She’s leaving Tuesday to travel the world in search of the best pie recipes and will be teaching pie making classes along the way.

Photo by John Pemble

This week the Des Moines Symphony Youth Symphony finished learning Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons for a concert incorporating dance, visual art, and science.  Music and collaboration are at the core of this performance.  The students started their journey last fall by collaborating with one of the world’s most accomplished violinists, Anne Akiko Meyers.

Photo by John Pemble

In 1907 John Wayne was born in a modest four room house in Winterset, but a few years later his parents moved him from Iowa to California where Wayne flourished as a movie actor.  Since the 1980s, Wayne’s birth place has been open for tours but in 2008, organizers committed to expanding the experience by building a museum.  They hired Chicago Tribune travel writer and reviewer of western books, Brian Downes to be the executive director and head fundraiser.  

Courtesy of Nick Dawe

A cappella singing has come a long way since its roots in cathedrals or a barber shop quartet, as exemplified by the new film Pitch Perfect 2. Lee Nelson directs choral activities at Wartburg College and says it’s a constantly evolving genre.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

 Two runners are nearing the finish line on a goal to complete a full, 26-point-two mile marathon in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

On the way to Corning in the southwest part of the state, 49-year-old Dennis Lee stops at a sandwich shop to load up for a long run into a strong head wind.

“I’ll have a foot-long sausage, egg and cheese on flat bread,” he orders

The temperature is unusually cold for early May, and there’s a threat of thunderstorms, so Lee knows he’ll need energy.

“Typically we burn about 35-hundred calories during the run,” he says.

littlemalba / Flickr

Sigal Barsade, professor of management in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, says the secret ingredient to a happy workplace is cheaper than free beer or ping pong tables--it's love.

"In the unit in which there was more affection, caring, compassion and tenderness among employees, we found there was greater employee engagement, better job satisfaction and teamwork, less employee withdrawal, less burnout, and less hard measures on absenteeism."

Courtesty of Jane Sutter Brandt

Jane Sutter Brandt remembers when her grandfather’s soda fountain in Burlington was still serving pineapple and cottage cheese for 15 cents and a tuna sandwich for a dime. She writes about the family’s business in her new memoir Sutter’s Sodas Satisfy: a Memoir of 90 Years of Sutter Drug Company.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Short poems, essays and pieces of fiction are going on display at 13 libraries across the state. It's a project designed to connect the public to literature from a collective of artists known as Grin City.

Photo by John Pemble

Steven Kennedy regularly plays “Suite del Recuerdo” by Argentine composer Jose Luis Merlin during his concerts.  It’s one of the pieces he learned in 2006 while preparing his senior college recital. “I’ve kept it around because I still love it and it’s probably one that I get the most compliments from,” says Kennedy.

Photo Courtesy of the artist

Rocky Votolato is a Seattle Washington-based Singer and Songwriter. He got his start in music more than twenty years ago in a punk band with his brother Wax Wing. After it disbanded he started performing solo. He took a break from writing and his latest record, “Hospital Handshakes,” has a similar sound to his old material. 

A couple years ago Votolato thought he was done with music. He wasn’t very proud of his last record, Television of Saints, and he decided to get a job; that ultimately didn’t work.

Alana Tamminga Photography

Students at Decorah High School have lost friends in recent years, some to accidents, some to suicide. Senior Rebecca Haars saw that her fellow students were hurting and vulnerable, so she decided to do something to help. She brought the Raw. Honest. Loved. project to Decorah.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with Haars and Alana Tamminga, the woman behind this powerful project.

South Dakota Historical Society Press

Laura Ingalls Wilder completed the original draft of her autobiography, Pioneer Girl, in the spring of 1930. It was never published, but it led to one of the most beloved series of books of all time.

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography is finally in print. Editor Pamela Smith Hill has painstakingly researched that original draft, sharing light on the events that Wilder wrote about, and painting a picture about a remarkable family that lived through momentous times.

IPR's Pat Blank

The month of April means tax time and for the past 50 years, in one Northeast Iowa town there’s a tradition that’s almost as reliable. It’s the Shell Rock Spring Swing Show.

Bob Goodfellow / Riverside Theatre

In her new one-woman show, Housebroken, actress and playwright Megan Gogerty uses sarcasm and humor to describe the process of buying a new house.

On this segment of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Gogerty about the show, as well as her career as a solo performer.

Photo by John Pemble

The Iowa Caucuses are less than a year away and politicians with presidential aspirations are visiting often.  California politician Samantha Clemons is visiting Iowa’s Capitol to seek inspiration. After gazing the artwork in the large reverberant rotunda, she pulls out her phone and makes a job offer to someone to run her Iowa campaign for president.

Sadle Hernandez / Flickr

In 2015, nearly everyone has a camera in their back pocket. Is there still a need to employ photographers? 

David Guttenfelder, an Iowa native who grew up in Waukee and was named Time’s 2013 Instagram photographer of the year for his coverage of everyday life in North Korea, says 'yes.' Good photographers just have to integrate cell phone camera into their professional work.

“I started just carrying my phone as my second camera to be creative,”  Guttenfelder said. 

Mama Jan Smith / flickr

Fifty years ago The Sound of Music hit the big screen, and people all over the world fell in love with the von Trapp family.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Sofia and Amanda von Trapp. Along with their brother and sister, they are carrying on the family legacy, but not quite in the way you might expect. 

Photo by John Pemble

March 21st, 2015 was the 330th anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s birth, a prominent composer of classical music. On Saturday across the world, his life was celebrated through performances in unexpected public places, including one on the steps of Iowa’s former Capitol in Iowa City.

Photo by Dean Borg

The Sioux City Art Center is saying goodbye to its famous guest with public farewell parties.

Jackson Pollock’s “Mural” exhibit closes April 1st.  The Art Center is hosting “Arrivederci, Pollock”, Saturday, March 14th, followed by a University of Iowa Alumni reception for the famous work of art on March 21st. The University of Iowa owns the painting which is moving to Venice, Italy for an exhibition “Jackson Pollock’s Mural: Energy Made Visible” on April 22nd.

Have you ever wondered which songs your state representative puts on repeat?

Iowa Public Radio’s Bob Dorr asked himself that question after State Representative Scott Ourth from Warren County reached out to him through social media.

Julia Davis / Iowa Public Radio

The annual Russian Guitar Festival in Iowa City will focus on Ukrainian music this year in light of the recent turmoil in the country. 

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