Launching Pad

By Vicki Ingham

Some 195 artists from locales as far-flung as Vancouver, British Columbia, and Indialantic, Fla., will show and sell their works at the Des Moines Arts Festival June 27-29 at Western Gateway Park. But you’ll find works from four Des Moines artists as well, including painter Ben Schuh, who credits the festival with launching his career as a full-time artist.

After graduating from Grand View University with a degree in visual arts, Schuh was accepted in the festival’s Emerging Iowa Artists program in 2005 and 2006. That juried program is open to Iowa residents currently enrolled in or recently graduated from a visual arts program at a U.S. college, university or art school. “Sales from those first two years allowed me to go for it professionally,” Schuh says. In 2007, he was juried in as a professional. “The Arts Festival also helped me develop a huge collector base here in Des Moines,” he says.

Schuh’s current work explores themes of supporting all things local. “Anything I can do to challenge people to support local business, local farmers, local arts, I do,” he says. That includes the subjects of his paintings—the Des Moines skyline, his friends’ livestock and produce, RAGBRAI riders—and the places he displays his work, such as restaurants, bars and shops around town, as well as art fairs and festivals throughout the Midwest.

Other Des Moines-based artists returning to the festival are sculptor Linda Lewis, mixed-media artist Gene Brown and painter Chris Vance.

Hours: June 27, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; June 28,11 a.m.-10 p.m. with fireworks at 10 p.m.;  June 28, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Find more details here.

Pictured on the home page:  Ben Schuh, “Welcome Home,” acrylic on watercolor paper.


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