Riverview Artist Salon: Gathering the creatives

Riverview Artist Salon Iowa's art community is one of the best kept secrets in our state. And it's a secret the Riverview Artist Salon is trying to share. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

A grassroots art organization kicked off its 2018 calendar of events Saturday night with the Riverview Artist Salon hosting “RAS10” inside the University of Iowa Pappajohn Center in downtown Des Moines.

Local artists had paintings on display along with live poetry, music and keynote speaker Siobhan Spain of Mainframe Studios.

Valerie Van Horne was an organizer of “RAS10” and the founder of the Riverview Artist Salon, which last year hosted nine “Salon” events at the Des Moines Social Club for Iowa creatives of all disciplines. More are scheduled for 2018.

We asked Van Horne about that event, but also about the Riverview Artist Salon and its grassroots art community.

Our Q&A is below:

Talk about Saturday night first off…

VVH: I always include Community Outreach in Riverview Artist Salon programming.  It’s important to spotlight organizations that reach out to our communities through the arts, many of whom have never been heard of or people know little about.  In the past I have had representatives from:

  • The Des Moines Art Center
  • Des Moines Music Coalition, Music for All Ages
  • Des Moines Ballet Residency Program
  • ArtForceIowa
  • Area515
  • Iowa Print Conservatorship
  • Metro Arts Alliance
  • Chicken Tractor

Having Siobhan speak about her and Justin Mandelbaum’s work in launching Mainframe Studios is a testimony to the flourishing creative community in Des Moines.  Mainframe Studios provides affordable studio space to creatives of all disciplines as well as space for nonprofit creative organizations.  She provided listeners with an overview of the project, where they’ve been and where they’re going as well as fielded questions from the audience.

How do you hope these type of events impact the art community?

VVH: Our mission with Riverview Artist Salon is to elevate the status of creatives living in our city and state and provide a center for networking, public engagement, new ideas, personal development, and artistic growth.  After each event, I hope this mission is fulfilled, that it has made an impact on attendees.  I’m pretty sure most times it does.

Iowa has so many amazing and talented Creatives and I want everyone to know about them. I want to make them “Rockstar’s” and “Famous.”  At the end of every Salon, if one-person say’s ‘Thank you for doing this’ or ‘This was great’ or ‘I’m glad someone is doing this’ then I have accomplished what I set out to do. I have fulfilled my mission.

When can we expect another Salon?

VVH: RAS10 was a Special Edition event as it was held away from the Des Moines Social Club.  I have a very special partnership with the Des Moines Social Club and have hosted the last nine Salons under their roof.  Riverview Artist Salon will return to the Des Moines Social Club in April, with more events scheduled for June and October.

Salon’s are typically held on weeknights, from 7-9 p.m. Programming starts at 7:30 with a welcome and introduction, then I introduce our poet/writer for the evening.  They have 15 minutes then I’ll introduce another speaker who will also have 15 minutes.  

It can be a Creative who advocates for something through their work or Creatives advocating for the arts.  From there the program leads into Community Outreach for another 15 minutes. and Creative Showcase. This can be a group of Creatives or a solo creative where the stage and microphone are theirs to do with as they please. This is the keystone/highlight of the evening and lasts 30 minutes.  

Are other communities in Iowa hosting events similar to this?

VVH: The arts community in Des Moines is alive and well and growing rapidly.  There is a creative event happening almost every day of the week.  Des Moines has fantastic music venues filled with Iowa musicians playing every weekend. Our musical talent is off the charts, we’re the next Austin is something I’ve heard a lot.  

Our visual arts are eye-opening. So many talented individuals fill The Fitch, The Crane, Mainframe Studios, Area515 and more. It’s crazy insane and a super exciting phase in Des Moines growth.  More communities can certainly do this.  All they need is one or more passionate individuals who want to tell the world about the wonderful creatives that live amongst their midst.  Matt Kargol and his wife are doing this in Oskaloosa.  Nash Cox is spreading the word in Chariton and supporters in Jefferson roll out the red carpet for artists each year.  Every town and city in Iowa has creative talent. All it takes is someone to be their champion, their town crier, their promoter and with a little help from the internet, local news, organizations, businesses, schools, etc.

Anything is possible.

For more information on Iowa’s art and music scene…

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