May/Jun: Out and About

Deep Dive

Few people on earth have spent more time underwater or seen more marine marvels than the award-winning photographer Cristina Mittermeier, who takes a turn in Des Moines Performing Arts’ Explorer Series on May 13 at the Des Moines Civic Center. She grew up in a landlocked city in central Mexico but has spent most of her life on (and under) the high seas. With degrees in both fine art photography and biochemical engineering, she founded the International League of Conservation Photographers and has used her camera to educate, advocate and inspire. She was named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, in 2018, and has collaborated over the years with Disney, Time, CNN and her husband, Paul Recklen, with whom she founded the nonprofit SeaLegacy to champion environmental causes around the world. dmpa.org

Photo: Cristina Mittermeier


On the Road Again

After a memorable concert last June at Water Works Park, the one and only Willie Nelson returns May 25 for another visit to the Lauridsen Amphitheater. The 91-year-old Texan — winner of a dozen Grammys, member of multiple halls of fame, advocate for legalized weed — is the most famous of this year’s solid lineup in the park’s Field Daze Music Series. See also: Cake on May 11, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss on June 11, and Brantley Gilbert on July 11.  firstfleetconcerts.com

Photo: Pamela Springsteen


Full Blast

When the double-whammy hurricanes Irma and Maria howled through the Caribbean within two weeks of each other in 2017, the Des Moines Art Center curator Mia Laufer recalled the childhood trips she took every summer to see her grandmother in Puerto Rico. In the years since, climate change has stretched the Atlantic hurricane season to a full six months, from June 1 through Nov. 30, with storms that start faster, churn harder and wreak more havoc than ever before. So how has that influenced everyday life across the Caribbean’s 700-some islands? How are folks grappling with the worrisome “new normal” in places where the aftermath of each new storm lays bare the messy legacies of colonialism and political corruption? To find out, Laufer has assembled an array of contemporary Caribbean artwork — a painting on a FEMA tarp, a small ship assembled from scraps — for an exhibition called “Hurricane Season” from June 8 through Sept. 22.

It’s the storm before the calm: “Caribbean Dreams,” a show of still-life photos by the Jamaican-born artist Samantha Box opens Oct. 12. desmoinesartcenter.org

Image: Teresita Fernández (born 1968). “Caribbean Cosmos,” 2020. Glazed ceramic. 96 x 192 x 1 1/4 inches. Forman Family Collection. © Teresita Fernández; Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, London, and Seoul. Photography by Elisabeth Bernstein.


Go Play Outside

Why should kids have all the fun? Along with its usual lineup of youth camps, Polk County Conservation also offers Adult Summer Camp Retreats, when grown-ups can spend a day in the great outdoors. Campers can hike for a few miles, learn about nature and make some new friends along the way. The first retreat is June 8 and starts at the new North Shore Recreation Area at Easter Lake. The second retreat is Aug. 10 at the Jester Park Nature Center. Register online by June 5 or July 29, respectively. polkcountyiowa.gov/conservation

Photo: Polk County Conservation


Buckle Up

Within minutes this past winter, racing fans snapped up all 25,000 tickets for the Iowa Speedway’s inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race, the Iowa Corn 350, set for June 16 in Newton. The June 15 Xfinity Series, just a step below NASCAR, sold out in March. But if you still want to see (and hear) cars rip around the 7/8-mile track at 130 miles per hour, a few tickets for the ARCA Menards Series on June 14 were still up for grabs in April. Outside the track you’ll find fan zones, kids’ activities, souvenir trailers and, most likely, some big-time concerts. At press time, the speedway’s promo team was still waiting on a green flag to announce the concert headliners. iowaspeedway.com

Photo: NASCAR

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