What We’re Doing in May and June

Soprano Michelle Johnson and bass-baritone Kevin Deas will make their Des Moines Metro Opera debut this summer when they perform the lead roles in “Porgy and Bess.” The show opens July 1 at Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola. 

1.

Des Moines Metro Opera is gearing up for its groundbreaking 50th anniversary Summer Festival with its Golden Gala June 11 at Krause Gateway Center. Tickets are $300 per person for the black-tie affair, which includes dinner, arias performed by DMMO artists, live music and dancing. 

DMMO is also presenting a series of events called “Acres Unearthed,” inspired by the world premiere July 9 of “A Thousand Acres,” a newly commissioned production based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jane Smiley. Highlights: a sneak peek preview performance June 4 at the Des Moines Central Library, and a photo exhibit of Iowa landscapes by Amee Ellis opening at Polk County Heritage Gallery June 27. 

In addition to “A Thousand Acres,” the Summer Festival includes “Porgy and Bess” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The three shows will be performed July 1-24 on a rotating basis at Indianola’s Blank Performing Arts Center. In addition, DMMO and Pyramid Theatre Company will present “American Apollo” at the Des Moines Art Center. 

For details on shows and other events, go to dmmo.org. 

2.

Art Week Des Moines returns for its eighth year June 17-23 as a run-up to the Des Moines Arts Festival. For the first time, Group Creative Services is coordinating the event, and they’re planning to make it “louder and prouder, especially showcasing artists’ power as creative problem solvers,” says Group’s Ryan Hanser. 

The refreshed event will be structured as a neighborhood circuit; each day, arts-related activities, performances and projects will take place in a different area: downtown, the Avenues, Valley Junction, Drake/Dogtown, Franklin, Highland Park/Oak Park, and Columbus Park. 

At press time, specific activities were still being planned, but past Art Weeks have included live mural painting, performance art, gallery hopping, exhibits, studio tours, parades, plein air painting and much more. Find updates at artweekdesmoines.com. 

“Pieces of My Heart”
3.

We’re excited that Des Moines Performing Arts is adding to the city’s growing dance scene. DMPA will present “Pieces of My Heart,” a contemporary dance theater performance, June 9-12 at the Des Moines Civic Center. World-renowned choreographer Sonia Dawkins debuted a short excerpt of the piece in 2017 with Philadanco; DMPA is supporting Dawkins to complete the work into a full-length production. 

Featuring professional dancers, actors and musicians, the one-act show is based on seven unpublished love poems by playwright August Wilson. The work explores the challenges and joy of love, Dawkins told dsm, adding that she hopes the audience “takes away a feeling of love from the [performance]—love you have for yourself, love for one another. The ‘Pieces of My Heart’ are the pieces of anyone’s heart.” 

For more details and tickets, go to dmpa.org.

“Static Noise” by Chris Vance. Go to MobergGallery.com to check out more of Vance’s art.
4.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Des Moines Arts Festival will take over Western Gateway Park June 24-26. Some 190 artists from across the country will show and sell their works in mediums such as painting, drawing, mixed media, sculpture, jewelry, fiber and more. 

We’re happy to see some of our favorite artists returning—Chris Dahlquist, Ella Richards, Matthew Hemminghaus and Chris Vance (pictured to the right), among others—and we’re eager to check out those who are new to the juried fair as well. 

In addition to the splendid art, the free event will include a film festival, interactive children’s activities, local, regional and national live music acts, plenty of food and drink, and more. We’ll see you there; in the meantime, find updated details at desmoinesartsfestival.org. 

5.

We’re inspired by the collaborations happening across local arts organizations, including “Buffalo Women: A Black Cowgirl Musical Dramedy,” a co-production of Pyramid Theatre Company and Des Moines Community Playhouse. The musical, June 19-July 2 at the Playhouse, chronicles the story of a previously enslaved Black woman searching for her daughter, who had been taken from her. Along the way, she meets other Black women who are all on their own journeys; they share advice and love with one another. 

For more info, including showtimes and tickets, go to dmplayhouse.org.

6.

Capital City Pride’s 30 Days of Pride returns for the second year June 1-30 with a packed schedule of events at venues throughout the city. Attend workshops, go on a scavenger hunt, cheer on the Cubs, see a comedy show, and sing along with Broadway tunes, among other activities. 

Pride Fest June 10-12 in the East Village is part of the overall event. The weekend will include a parade, fun run, two stages of outdoor entertainment, and more. Headlining acts are the Brooklyn-based indie-electronic duo Matt and Kim on June 10 and singer/songwriter Todrick Hall on June 11. Find details at capitalcitypride.org. 

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