Contact Buzz: Create your heart out across Central Iowa

Allegra Hernandez performs at the Gas Lamp during the GDP Music Festival on Saturday, April 23, 2022. The 2023 GDP Fest returns on April 15; news broke on Feb. 13 that the Gas Lamp will close in July 2023. — Alyssa Leicht/Little Village

Few countries have monetized making an annual expression of love more than America. Thankfully, true love does not place the almighty dollar as the main ingredient for its most alluring recipe.

The arts offer a myriad of avenues to explore variant facets of love. Just as the beauty of nature is always around us, if we take the time to appreciate it, exploring love in the arts always holds a bounty of discoveries and rewards.

Artistic creation is a two-fold process: the action of creating art, and the reaction from those to whom it is shared. This love of creation and love of experiencing is the foundation for a richer, more contributory life.

Marc Chagall said, “Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing.” Children provide the earliest such expressions, joyfully displayed in homes on the ubiquitous refrigerator gallery. The youngest are immersed in paints, drawing, music, reading — all creative stimulants that provide that early seed of artistic love.

Most of us started our creative journeys this way. Those seeds remain in us, awaiting proper encouragement to continue growing. Loving the arts needs to be nurtured and embraced as we age, while societal influences try to squelch this.

“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. So do it,” was the directive given by Kurt Vonnegut, University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumnus. Its powerful message is a reminder for us to break out the paints and brushes, to sing in the shower, to dance in the streets, to write in a journal. Your actions capture moments of love. Whether shared or not, they grow your soul.

The post-pandemic music scene is flourishing in Central Iowa. While many musicians maintained their pandemic connections through virtual concerts, they, like their fans, longed for the unmatched energy of sharing a performing space and letting the music fill the room. Des Moines’ arenas fill with fans when major national tours swing through, but the lifeblood of this region’s music scene remains the intimate venues that host regional music acts.

Great resources for hunting down those shows include Bryan Farland’s The List DSM, Timothy Rose’s performing arts calendar A Gentle Guide to Des Moines Theatre, the Des Moines Public Art Foundation’s public art inventory, the State Historical Museum of Iowa, the Iowa Genealogical Society, the Des Moines Art Center, parks and recreation departments, libraries, indie bookstores — and, of course, Little Village and my Culture Buzz newsletter.

This article was originally published in Little Village Central Iowa issue 011.