Travel to Des Moines to See Breathtaking Street Art


The national spotlight shone on Des Moines' street art last year when former star of "The Bachelor" Chris Soules visited the capital city to film an episode.

An Iowa farmer from Arlington, he took one of his female courters through downtown Des Moines, which is where a local artist, Van Holmgren was hired to create a 15x30-foot mural of Soules holding a blonde in his arms, depicted in black and white, on the building at 208 Court Ave., the popular restaurant RoCA. Holmgren had to paint the mural in four hours before Soules arrived and cameras began rolling.

That mural, accompanied by the four-acre sculpture park situated in the middle of downtown Des Moines and ceramic pieces lining the Principal Riverwalk, helped highlight Des Moines' art offerings.

A few others to check out if you're in downtown Des Moines are listed below.

Collaborative Quilt at RoCA
Eight "patches" in two rows of four highlight local artists late-night work on the piece at RoCA. Constance Bell created a pastel seascape accompanied by the quote, "Dare I ever allow to feel the waves."

Another section by jack Heintz features a network of white tunnels on a green background, which he said was inspired by a childhood fascination with medical illustrations. Jami Milne's mural is an interesting wallpaper-pasted photo of a female she had previously photographed. Laura Palmer's large-scale postage stamp pictures a map of Iowa with Des Moines denoted by a heart.

Holmgren painted a double portrait of Soules and his now-ex-fiancee. Anna Frederick created a calligraphy-penned message, "This must be the place." Known by As Phate, this artist painted an Egyptian dreamscape representative of Queen Nefertiti. Jennifer Leatherby painted an image of jagged colored shapes seemingly floating across a white field in minimalistic style.

Graziano Brothers' Italian Foods
Artist John Neal painted a mural comprised of photos from Graziano Brothers' Italian Foods landmark store at Tienda Mexicana, 1524 East Grand Ave. Neal has painted other murals in Des Moines, including two located south of downtown Des Moines at Graziano Brothers market and at the Italian-American Cultural Center.

Little Plaza
Neal also pieced together a mural at "la placita" or the little plaza on East Grand Avenue that featured photos of real people with an impact on the Mexican-American community, including members of the band Mariachi Azteca, a local church pastor and the pastor's wife. The mural retells the story of Mexican immigrants moving into Des Moines.

Iowa State Fairgrounds
Last August, Iowa State fair officials commissioned local artist Ben Schuh to create a mural at the fair's cultural center. It features his uncle, a war veteran who had passed away, with highlights of Iowa staples interwoven in the mural, including state symbols, hay bales, 4-H youth, the Kate Shelley Bridge, the High Trestle Bridge and wind turbines.

Workspace
Covering the west side of Workspace's exterior wall is Jordan Weber's mural highlight downtown Des Moines's evolution. It features a blonde woman resembling a vintage comic strip character shockingly staring at graffiti sprawling across the rest of the wall.

Oak Park Elementary School
Des Moines native Chris Vance spruced up the playground area last summer at Oak Park Elementary School. The exterior of the school's gym sports scribbles and 8-foot-tall imaginary creatures spanning 48 feet of galvanized steel panels. Vance incorporated upwards of 50 student-drawn ideas into his overall mural.

Metro Waste Authority
Vance also was commissioned to create a colorful mural called No Action Too Small on the east side of Metro Waste Authority's office Building at 300 East Locust St. The giant mural livens up the downtown area, much like the rest of the artwork.

Kristin Danner has lived in the central Iowa area for the past 42 years. As the mom of four kids, she is always on the go.