September 2011

In This Issue
No More Starving Artists? No More Excuses!
Grant Funding Update
Folk & Traditional Arts Grant Reaches Southeastern Iowa
The Art of Communication: A Central Iowa Folklife Journey
Poetry Out Loud Overnight Camp Oct. 8-9 in Des Moines
Mason City Beautifies Historic Downtown with Dahlquist Artwork
Iowa City's Pheasant Hill Park Features New Public Art
Living the Arts: Aaron Hilliard
Art Educators of Iowa Fall Conference
NEA Magazine Highlights "Creative Placemaking in Rural America"

Sept. 17: No More Starving Artists III Conference, Cedar Rapids.






Artist Directory 

(Iowa Artists: an easy way to let the public know about you!)


Iowa Public Art Artists Registry 

(For Iowa artists who create public art and

are seeking public art commissions)



Iowa Arts Council Mini Grants. Due first business day of each month, for projects in the arts.


Big Yellow School Bus Grants (transportation funds for arts field trips)



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TOPNo More Starving Artists? No More Excuses Not to Attend This Great Conference!

Time is running out for your chance to network with other Iowa artists and participate in workshops conducted by national and regional experts during "No More Starving Artists III."


The conference will take place Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 at CSPS/Legion Arts in Cedar Rapids. Students! A discount price of $30 has been added just for you. IAC Roster artists! Contact Sarah Ekstrand to receive a discount code for a $45 registration fee. Regular registration is now $55 and can be made at


See a complete schedule and find more information at





Grant Funding Update
The Iowa Arts Council (IAC) has announced funding decisions for all pending grant programs that were delayed due to the extended legislative session. These include IAC Major Grants as well as June, July and August Mini Grants, in addition to Iowa Community Cultural Grants (ICCG) and Small Operating Support Grants (SOS). Initial funding notifications have been sent to all grant applicants via email with official hard-copy notifications to follow. Funding for Big Yellow School Bus grants will continue to be made available; however applications for EZ-123 funding will no longer be accepted. 


For FY2012, grant programs administered by the Iowa Arts Council Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs sustained an approximate 10 percent budget reduction when taking into account reduced appropriations from both the Iowa Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. These reductions will be reflected across grant programs administered by the IAC, including the Cultural Leadership Partners (CLP) program.


A brief summary of recent grant funding decisions:


  • IAC Major Grants: $229,832 awarded to 29 applicants

  • Iowa Community Cultural Grants (ICCG): $182,380 awarded to 14 applicants

  • Small Operating Support Grants (SOS): $33,939 awarded to 17 applicants

  • June/July/August Mini Grants: $17,400 awarded to 18 applicants


Iowa Arts Council staff has appreciated the continued patience and understanding of our constituents during this delayed granting cycle. Please watch for a complete list of grant recipients coming soon.





Folk & Traditional Arts Grant Reaches Southeastern Iowa  

As part of its partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Iowa Arts Council was awarded $40,000to continue a multi-year, statewide survey documenting cultural traditions in southeastern Iowa. The Folk and Traditional Arts Partnership Funding also supports implementing related programs in western and north central Iowa.


This 11-county regional survey will build on documentation from three previous years of survey work by the IAC and its field researchers. The southeastern Iowa survey component will encompass regional ethnic, religious, farm and waterways traditions, as well as foodways, old time music, quilting, auctioneering, and others. Ethnic and religious cultures to be included are African American, Croatian, Irish, Italian, German, Guatemalan, Hmong, Lao, Nigerian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Scottish, Swedish, Vietnamese, Welsh, Amish, Catholic, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, and Presbyterian. To highlight its Folk and Traditional Arts programming, the IAC will seek to organize gatherings for western Iowa quilters at local arts agencies and museums, as well as explore plans for a regional polka event.  


Please contact Iowa Arts Council Folklife Coordinator, Riki Saltzman, or (515) 242-6195 if you have recommendations for traditions, groups, or individual folk & traditional artists to be documented in Keokuk, Washington, Louisa, Muscatine, Wapello, Jefferson, Henry, Des Moines, Davis, Van Buren, or Lee counties.


The Art of Communication: A Central Iowa Folklife Journey
By Laura Marcus Green


During FY11, the National Endowment for the Arts funded the third year of the IAC Folklife program's multiyear survey to document Iowa's folk & traditional artists. Folklorist Laura Marcus Green, who tracked artists in central Iowa, writes of her experiences from this past year.


"Where words fail, music speaks" reads a mural in the Bondurant home of Julie Moss, who performs old-time gospel and popular songs in senior care centers. Julie's mural speaks to one of folk art's most consistent qualities: its capacity to communicate. As the central Iowa folklife survey closes, I am struck by the dedication, expertise, and beauty embodied in central Iowa traditional arts.


In Des Moines, Kayan (Burmese) weaver, dancer, and musician Mu Law explains that people sing to express feelings they dare not say aloud. She plays a traditional song for friends at a parting. "If you leave me, go away from me but don't forget me. Miss me, too. Think about me forever. We are used to being together." These lyrics ring true: some of Mu's family and friends still live in the Thai refugee camp where she spent 20 years.


In Perry, the Gonzalez Brothers compose songs about life in the U.S., drawing on Mexican trio music they heard on the radio growing up in Guanajuato. Des Moines-based old-time fiddlers Weldon Gourd, Lori O'Hern, and Ben McClure span three generations of a tradition in which old tunes find new meaning as they move through time.


Quilters read fabrics, colors, and patterns to determine a quilt's origins. Martha Klatt of Perry believes that during the Depression, her mother's generation brightened their homes with flowers and butterflies pieced in cheery yellows, pinks, and greens. Contemporary quilters still express themselves through their work. Martha stitched childhood scenes into a quilt that commemorates her late brother.


At Veach's Shoe Repair & Custom Leather in Ankeny, you'll see three generations of saddle making and leather working, as Cary Veach continues a family tradition. Farrier Scott Kelber drives his mobile set-up within a 50-mile radius of his home in Rhodes. His understanding of horses is vital to this age-old trade. In Des Moines, Tai Dam artist Noi Hoang's woodcarvings relate his life's story-from images he made for Lao Buddhist temples during his youth, to tourist carvings he made in a Thai refugee camp, to the 19th-century American covered wagon he carved, honoring pioneers of an earlier era.


Many of these artists will participate in the Iowa Arts Council's Folk & Traditional Arts Roster and other programs through which they can share their heritage and talents with audiences statewide.


Laura Marcus Green is an independent folklorist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The central Iowa Folk & Traditional Arts Survey was funded through generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Green gratefully acknowledges the assistance and hospitality of the traditional artists, colleagues, and community members who made this work possible.



Poetry Out Loud Overnight Camp Oct.  8-9 in Des Moines 

High school students interested in honing their poetry writing and performance skills are invited to a special overnight camp Oct. 8-9, 2011, at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.


The Poetry Out Loud Overnight Camp will immerse students in an intense poetry experience while working with some of Iowa's best poets and performers, including Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander. A variety of workshops will help students develop their poetic voice. There will also be a "Midnight Storytelling Flashlight Tour" of State Historical Museum exhibits.


Swander is the current Iowa Poet Laureate and author of numerous books of poetry, non-fiction and drama. Her most recent book of poetry is called "The Girls on the Roof," which she has adapted to the stage with puppeteer Monica Leo of the Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre Company. Swander is the recipient of major awards including the Whiting Award and a National Endowment for the Arts award. She is a Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University.


In addition to Swander, workshops will be presented by:


  • Yvette Zarod Hermann, adjunct professor of English at Des Moines Area Community College and IAC teaching artist, director and actor with the Des Moines Social Club

  • Maureen Korte, IAC storyteller and State Historical Museum staff member

  • Jennifer Pytleski, IAC Teaching Artist and Educational Theatre Masters Program graduate of NYU

  • Daron Richardson, spoken word artist from Des Moines


The camp is open to students entering 9-12 grades as well as recent graduates. Participants will arrive at 5 p.m. Oct. 8 and leave at noon Oct. 9. Registration is $35 and includes pizza on Saturday night and a hot breakfast Sunday morning. The State Historical Building is at 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines.


Space is limited. Contact Dawn Martinez Oropeza, Iowa Arts Council Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, to register or for more information.




Mason City Beautifies Historic Downtown with Dahlquist Artwork
The city of Mason City unveiled its new Federal Avenue Streetscape and held a grand opening event for the restored Historic Park Inn over the Labor Day weekend.


Iowa artist David Dahlquist designed decorative metal tower sculptures and has been involved with a lot of the other artwork on the streetscape as well. The city received Vision Iowa funds for beautification and restoration of the Historic Park Inn.


Dahlquist's metal sculptures are located in a pedestrian plaza just steps from the hotel. More green space, unique lighting possibilities and additional parking were among the design ideas for the Federal Avenue streetscape in discussions from January 2010.


The ideas were presented by artists and landscape architects associated with Renaissance Design Group (RDG) in Des Moines, a consulting firm.


"In 1910, this was a very active street," artist David Dahlquist told the Mason City Globe-Gazette at the time. "I think that this streetscape is trying to get some of that activity back."


The Historic Park Inn Hotel, together with City National Bank in Mason City, Iowa, were designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and completed in 1910. The design greatly influenced architecture in Europe and is as striking today as it ever was. The Park Inn Hotel is the last Wright designed hotel in the world, and a complete renovation, including restoration of the distinctive brick and terra-cotta fa├žade as well as art glass windows has restored the Prairie School building to a functional hotel.


In 2008, Mason City was awarded $9 million in Vision Iowa funding to aid the estimated $34 million project. In 2006, the city was named one of Iowa's Great Places, a program administered through the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.



Iowa City's Pheasant Hill Park Features New Public Art

Some colorful mosaic artwork has made its appearance in one of Iowa City's neighborhood parks, thanks to a collaborative project between the City of Iowa City and local students.


Located in Pheasant Hill Park in the Washington Hills neighborhood, the project features a woodland walkway comprised of 10 concrete pillars and a bench, all covered in multi-colored glass mosaic tiles. The project was designed and constructed by students from City High and Hoover and Lemme Elementary Schools, and highlights the creativity, imagination, and talent of students from the surrounding neighborhoods.

The art project, based on the theme, "Characters of the Imagination," was created for the Washington Hills neighborhood and funded through the Iowa City Public Art Program at a cost of about $16,600. It was finally dedicated July 21 after three years of work. Designs were created by the elementary students using a woodlands creatures theme, and were then translated into mosaic by art teacher Jill Harper and her City High art students. Many of the students' names appear in lettered beads throughout the work.


Harper and her students may be working on another public art project at the Grant Wood Bike Access, pending city council approval in September.


View more photos of the artwork

Living the Arts: Aaron Hilliard

Aaron Hilliard is a native of Des Moines who became a TV writer living in Los Angeles and is now moving back to the Midwest. Yardhill is his comedy production company, producing web series, short films, podcasts and more. Hilliard will be a presenter at No More Starving Artists III Sept. 17.


Tell us a little about your work.
I'm mainly a TV comedy writer/producer. The past few years I've been working toward creating my own show, but so far I've always worked as a second lieutenant on other peoples' projects. Creating my own independent web series has become a way to experiment with comedy ideas in a less expensive and (therefore) less restrictive platform. Some of the webisodes or the characters in them have become the basis for TV pilot scripts. Showing off a finished product (a web series or short film) is a great way to "flesh out" a concept and sell it to network executives who are bored reading a million scripts a week.

How did you end up in L.A., and now back to the Midwest?
I went to undergraduate film school at Wesleyan University. When I graduated, my film studies classmates were going to New York or L.A. to start movie careers. My writing partner and I wanted to jump into writing comedy professionally, and at the time, comedy movies were in a dismal state of boring-ness. TV seemed more exciting, so we jumped into that world. Since Los Angeles has about 75 times as much TV production as NYC, it made sense to settle out west.

My wife and I have never been huge fans of Los Angeles, and have always hoped to some day live a "bicoastal" existence. We'd set up a comfortable life in some non-LA part of the country, and I'd commute to Hollywood only when necessary. We hadn't expected to start that life quite so soon, but she got accepted to Veterinary School at the University of Minnesota this year, and it provided the kick in the pants we needed to launch out of California.

What do you tell friends about your home state?
I've always been a booster for Iowa. I shot my senior thesis film at my high school, and brought a crew of east coast kids out to spend a week in Des Moines. I'm currently working on a TV pilot set in Des Moines, and in a perfect world I might just talk somebody into letting me shoot it there. Generally, everyone I've lured to Iowa over the years has become a big fan, and many of my friends have made repeat trips.

Who's your favorite Iowa artist?
Sticking with what I know... Jane Espenson is a fantastic TV writer from Ames. She's worked on some of my favorite shows in the past decade, including "Battlestar Galactica" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." She has a blog about writing for TV:, that I find enlightening and entertaining. As I transition to larger TV projects with big budgets and sweeping themes, there's something comforting about knowing that a woman from my neck of the woods has traveled that path to such successful ends.

What does the phrase "Live the Arts" mean to you?
In my early 20s, I temped at a lot of boring office jobs. I'm sure some of my coworkers loved their work, but I realized that many of them were just "working for the weekend." They spent 40 hours a week doing pushing paper around a desk, and only really "lived" for a few short hours on Saturday and Sunday. I knew that I didn't want that kind of a life, wanted to take pleasure in the thing I did for the majority of my waking hours. I am well aware that this is a luxury, and maybe not an attainable goal for a lot of folks who are scraping by to put food on the table. But socioeconomic advantages acknowledged, I was able to establish a lifestyle that reverses the equation: I enjoy writing and directing comedy for about 40 hours of the week, and spend a smaller fraction of time dealing with drudgery (ie. driving across Los Angeles for meetings that will lead nowhere). In this lifestyle, "weekend" doesn't really mean much. I'm as likely to work on a Saturday as I am on a Tuesday, but the "work" is imagining things and polishing jokes. Sure, there's writers' block and days when I don't feel like being funny, but generally my work feels like play. It's something I'd want to do whether I got paid or not, and I'm tickled to call it my profession. I think that's what "Live the Arts" means to me: setting up a life that is functional (pays the bills), but creative.

What did you do last Friday night?

I packed a U-Haul and started driving to Minnesota.




Art Educators of Iowa Fall Conference
Each Fall, art educators from across the state congregate to share ideas, be inspired, make art, and revitalize with their peers. Art Educators of Iowa will hold its 61st annual three-day conference, "Creativity in the City: Twenty-first Century and Beyond," Oct. 7-9, 2011 in Des Moines.

Two noted researchers and writers will discuss their work with the creative process: Dr. Jonathan Feinstein from the Yale School of Management and Dr. Gary Gute from the University of Northern Iowa. Feinstein and Gute will be featured Friday at the Creativity Luncheon and Panel Discussion.

Numerous breakout sessions will offer something for everyone. To see a complete conference schedule, register and find more information, visit


NEA Magazine Highlights "Creative Placemaking in Rural America"
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the United States has turned from a mostly agrarian, rural country into an urban, industrialized one. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, only about one-fifth of the population live in rural areas today, even though those lands comprise more than three-quarters of the country and are a major source of the nation's resources, culture, and traditions.

NEA Arts, the quarterly magazine of the National Endowment for the Arts, takes a look at the creative approaches rural residents have been taking with the arts to improve their communities in the most recent issue. 

Read about the Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota where art is used in a health clinic to promote the Native culture as well as for its healing properties. And in North Carolina, HandMade in America has shown that the traditional arts are a viable, important part of the local economy as well as the local culture.



The Iowa Arts Council is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.


The mission of the Iowa Arts Council is to enrich the quality of life for Iowans through support of the arts.


The vision of the Iowa Arts Council is that Iowans recognize the arts are essential to their quality of life.


The Iowa Arts Council aims to empower Iowa's leaders in strengthening community life through the arts and provide leadership in stimulating a healthy arts environment.

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