Meet the Woman of a Thousand Muses

Heather Kanzaki has been called “Living Art.” At least, that was the title of the spread in Downtown that covered her June exhibition, and if that’s not what they meant, then I’ll make it official now: Heather Kanzaki is living art. Heather’s not posing there. That’s how she usually looks: active and engaged. She laughs…

“Art Will Save Your Life”

That’s something Chuck Knudsen used to say, and this is what he meant: For the past few months, I’ve been laying low and making things. It turns out that when I’m in a really dark place, I can’t write. I mean, I can, but nothing that’s honest or meaningful. Even now, I can’t describe the Really Dark…

A Cemetery is an Art Museum

Head stones are art objects. We don’t usually think of them that way, but they do exactly what art does. Each stone reflects the culture of its day. It’s a momento mori more effective than the Danse Macabre (“Dance with Death”). A concentrated few make an outdoor local art and history museum. Mount Joy Cemetery…

Squatters and Supplementary Farming

People generally think of squatters as those who live in the basements of dilapidated urban buildings. Detroit and parts of Chicago come to mind. But Iowa has its share of squatters, and my guess is that number is about to rise drastically. After all, real estate is expensive, and the state’s economy is about to…

On Mental Health and Common Decency

Anthony Bourdain’s death last week garnered publicity not seen since the world lost Robin Williams almost four years ago. Posted quotes and photographs of a smiling Bourdain illustrate how meaningful his work was and how much of a personal impact he had on people. The outpouring is understandable. Most of us probably had a rough…

New Festival AlertSSSS. Plural.

…including benefits for local non-profits! I feel fortunate to have returned to the Quad City Area at a time when so many motivated, ambitious young people are building up and taking control of their community and culture. I already covered the brand new BirdFest over at Travel Iowa. This is a project from GoldBird Recordings,…

The Biggest Little Venue on Two Continents

Rio de Janeiro, London, Berlin, and Rock Island. All of these places have something in common: venues that consistently host international artists and cultural virtuosos. Rozz-Tox QC is the only intimate Midwestern venue (outside of a few spots in Chicago and Minneapolis) that consistently brings in acts from all over the world. Every continent is…

HortiCulture, Or: How to Grow Shit

I feel guilty. I set out to make a blog celebrating the art&culture(&pork) of Iowa, yet I’ve neglected a significant element of the Iowa experience. No, I’m not talking about farming. Those days are all but gone. Most farms are now operated like factories and owned by mega-corporations. It is rare to find a family…

Women’s Art Collective Offers Rare Glimpse

“This house has its own following,” Michele says as we stand on her sunny back porch overlooking the Mississippi River. “People often recognize the address.” Michele’s home has a long, varied history. When construction started in 1879, it was to be one of the grandest homes around. Henry F. Petersen – of the famous Petersen’s Sons’…

Record Store Day at Ragged

Bob Herington is a cool dude with a cool job and cool glasses. He’s like a much better version of John Cusack in High Fidelity. Like, you actually want to spend time with him and never get the urge to kick him in the liver. Bob’s already proven his good musical taste many times over, so you…

On The Saint Elizabeth’s Fire

There’s a tiny cemetery in the yard of the hospital where I was born. A statue of Mary watches over sixteen plain stone crosses. Mary gazes down, palms outward. She is missing a finger on her right hand. Her brow is relaxed, but her mouth is folded in sorrowful indignation. She gestures to the crosses…

Karen Meat Says ‘You’re An Ugly Person’ And That’s Okay

Did you know Blondie and Joan Jett had a baby? I didn’t, either. They raised her on hot dogs and DaDa and they named her Karen Meat. In what may or may not be her final form, Karen Meat is Arin Eaton and usually Dana Telcrow and also sometimes some other dudes. Yeah, she’s complicated,…