April 8, 2014
Digital print by Jay Vigon.

Exhibit A(rt)

By Christine Riccelli 


Last Friday night, Walnut Street downtown offered plenty of evidence of Des Moines' robust gallery scene:


Studio Gallery in the East Village (323 E. Walnut St.) opened "Flora Project," a new exhibit of works by artist and gallery owner Jay Vigon. We're wild about the floral digital prints Vigon creates--so wild, in fact, that we feature one on the current cover of dsm. This exhibit is your chance to check out the others in the series. The prints are available in different sizes and at various price points; we especially loved the ones mounted on Plexiglas. Vigon, who opened Studio Gallery last fall with his artist wife, Margo Nahas, is a nationally known designer whose impressive client list includes Warner Bros. and George Lucas. In addition to illustrations and digital art, he's created graphic designs for album covers, logos and advertising campaigns.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the river at 520 Walnut St., Des Moines artist and sculptor James Ellwanger and his wife, Melinda, hosted an opening reception for Nest Gallery. The space, on the first floor of the U.S. Bank Building, showcases Ellwanger's new geometric digital prints. It also will serve as the hub for Ellwanger's "Spectrum on Walnut," a proposed lighting display for Walnut Street; you can get a glimpse of the project at Nest, where some of the lighting already is installed. Ellwanger's sculptures around town include "Shattering Silence" (our favorite) at the Iowa Judicial Branch Building on the Capitol grounds and "Liberty Crown" atop Exile Brewing Co. 


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Heath Hardage Lee

Wayward Daughter

By Kellye Crocker


During a series of Confederate Civil War successes, Southerners greeted news of Winnie Davis' birth as a sign of impending victory. Des Moines author and historian Heath Hardage Lee profiles Confederate President Jefferson Davis' controversial youngest daughter in a new biography, "Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause."

Relying on 20 years of research from letters, diaries, newspapers and interviews with relatives, Lee portrays an unwitting icon, idolized as the "Daughter of the Confederacy" but struggling with conflicting personal views. Davis' 1890 engagement to a Northerner--the grandson of a famous abolitionist--enraged her community, and she never married. But as an author and newspaper reporter in New York City, Davis eventually found the personal and artistic freedom she craved.


Lee will discuss her debut book April 17 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the History Series at Salisbury House & Gardens. The Virginia native, who coordinates the History Series, has worked for several Southern museums and written for newspapers, magazines and blogs. Tickets are $10, and seating is limited. For reservations, call 274-1777. 
Younkers waitresses take a break
in the summer of 1978
(Wini Moranville is the top middle).

Lessons from Younkers

By Wini Moranville


The Younkers building fire has caused an outpouring of memories of the grand old department store. Allow me to add one myself.

In the late '70s and early '80s, I was lucky enough to work in the Younkers restaurants--specifically, the Tea Room and Parkade Pantry (both downtown) and the Meadowlark (at Merle Hay Mall). Back then, the Younkers restaurant had--in addition to affordable food made from scratch--a commitment to customer service and teamwork that has served me well my entire working life.

I can remember our manager, Pat Bock, telling us that there were many things she would forgive; she understood that orders got mixed up, glasses got shattered, coffee got spilled. But she would never, ever forgive us for being rude to anyone who sat at our tables.

Pat taught graciousness through acts of graciousness herself. One day, in the middle of a lunch shift, she caught me standing in the back of the kitchen shoveling one of those famous rarebit burgers into my mouth. She said, "For heaven's sake, sit down and eat that thing, or you'll get sick. I'll cover your tables for a while." When I got back on the floor and thanked her, she said to me, "Well, I know what it's like to try to serve food when you're hungry."

One holiday season, an old cook mentioned that we should all sing Christmas carols together. Some of us younger staff may have rolled our eyes at the idea, but Pat told us, "It's the least you can do for a cook you work with all year." So, at the end of our shift that day, we all sat in the dining room and sang together.

In these and so many other ways, Pat motivated us to be nice to the customers, not because it was our job, but because she showed us how nice it felt when someone was nice to us.

Connie Isaacson
Springboard to Success
Nonprofit leaders can sharpen their decision-making and financial skills through the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines' spring BoardLaunch series. Classes cost $30 each and meet April 28, June 2 and June 9 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Junior Achievement, 6100 Grand Ave. Board members and other nonprofit leaders can sign up for one, two or all three; register here.
  • April 28, "It's Okay to Say No if It's the Right Question": Melynda DeCarlo, founder of The Meyvn Group, reveals how to focus your organization's time and energy when faced with seemingly endless options for partnerships, funding and programming.
  • June 2, "Rebalancing the Balance Sheet: Board Strategies to Maximize General Operating Support": Nancy Burd, president of The Burd Group, offers a framework for understanding nonprofit financing structures, issues and myths.
  • June 9, "The Endowment Advantage: Ensuring Your Organization's Future Sustainability": Connie Isaacson of Isaacson Consulting explores the benefits of endowments, including when and how to launch a campaign while juggling daily operations. -K.C.
I'll Drink to That
Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and invest a little sweat equity to help a favorite cause. But at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-Iowa's Sip for a Cure, the only thing that might get dirty is your martini.

The third annual martini tasting April 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Sam & Gabe's Italian Bistro, supports the effort to find a cure for the chronic lung and digestive disease affecting 30,000 US children and adults. All you have to do is sample "decadent, cutting-edge martinis," nosh hors d'oeuvres and groove to music by Rainbow Penley and Jeremy Alvarez. It's an easy, fun and tasty way to make a difference. Tickets, $30 in advance and $35 at the door, are available here or by calling 252-1530.  -K.C.
Kellye Crocker

Kellye Crocker lives in Clive and writes fiction for teens and nonfiction for adults. A former Des Moines Register senior reporter and current dsm contributing writer, she's also written for Parents, Better Homes and Gardens and Glamour, among other national publications. Connect with her on Twitter: @kelcrocker.
Wini Moranville

Wini Moranville, author of "The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day," is a food, wine and travel writer who covers the dining scene for dsm magazine. Follow her at All Things Food DSM - Wini Moranville and catch her food segment on Fridays at 6:40 a.m. on KCWI-23's "Great Day" morning show.

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