DECEMBER 13, 2016

Tonic Sol-fa (lead vocalist Shaun Johnson, flanked by tenor and vocal percussionist Greg Bannwarth, and bass Jared Dove) will harmonize at Hoyt Sherman this Friday.

The award-winning a capella group Tonic Sol-fa brings its Holiday Show to Hoyt Sherman Place this Friday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m. 

Since it was organized in the '90s at St. John's University in Minnesota, Tonic Sol-fa has sold 2 million recordings and sings some 150 performances each year. The name? Tonic is the term for the main note in any key; sol and fa come from the lyrical "do re mi ..." scale, often referred to musically as the "Sol Fa" scale. There you go.

By all accounts, these guys are really good. The New York Times described Tonic Sol-fa's sound as "a vocal kaleidoscope," and at least one of us here at dsm plans to be there, at Hoyt Sherman, Friday evening. She, like everyone else, can expect to pay $34.50-$39.50 (less for kids 12 and under). Tickets are available at the Hoyt Sherman box office or online here
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In "Terraqueous" by Mary Katz, people (can you see them in the upper left corner?) negotiate a world of chaos and mystery. 

If you haven't had a chance to stop by the new exhibit at Moberg Gallery, make time in your busy holiday schedule to do so. Why? The group show features the works of 20 local and regional artists--eight of them new to the gallery--so you can enjoy works from your favorite artists as well as discover new ones.
For example, we enjoyed learning about abstract artist Igor Khalandovsky, a native of Ukraine who now teaches at Des Moines Area Community College; Doug and Eileen Leunig from Peoria, Ill., who create mesmerizing works of digital photography; and Chicago painter Mary Katz, whose compelling abstract works contain tiny but attention-grabbing figures. In her recent work, "the world in which my figures dwell is beyond their control and comprehension," she explains in her artist's statement. "The figures walk into the unknown while making as much order of the chaos as they can. In a similar way, we humans live in a universe that is unfathomable." 
We also were intrigued by Grand View University instructor and mixed-media artist Mary Jones' exploration of an unexpected subject--life along Southeast 14th Street. She describes her work as wandering "through place and time by recording experience with words, drawings, photos--usually combined. No medium alone says enough. Together they are a way of knowing places."
Other highlights include the colorful, bold and always-striking acrylic paintings by Des Moines arist and Bosnia native Senid Tabakovic (read a story in dsm about the artist here) and the artistry of Sarah Grant, who, in a departure from the past, is creating large-scale works on canvas. To learn more about the exhibit and artists, go to Moberg's website
From hams to handmade holiday decor, you'll find an array of gifts at the Winter Market.

Looking for some distinctive handmade gifts or holiday fare? You're in luck.

Winter Market returns to downtown Des Moines this Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16 and 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in two locations: Capital Square and Kaleidoscope at the Hub. With more than 130 vendors, the market is a chance to stock up on holiday fixin's -- fresh meats and produce, plus locally produced delicacies, even freshly cut Christmas trees, wreaths and decorations. Entertainers are scheduled every half-hour. For a list of performers and more info on the market, click here

Merry Market, billed as "a holiday market for procrastinators," will pop up with 20 artists, makers and other vendors in the Kirkwood lobby this Friday, Dec. 16, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Organizers are teaming up with Vivian's Restaurant, also in the Kirkwood builiding, to offer holiday shopping with cocktails, because who doesn't like Christmas shopping with a Moscow Mule? 
Opera sensation Simon Estes makes a playful appearance in a fun video that kicks off Iowa's #NotToBrag campaign,.

Is it time to get past the whole "Iowa nice," Midwest modesty thing? Iowa's Department of Cultural Affairs invites you to brag a bit, as in "Not to brag, but ..."

has launched a campaign to showcase Iowa and asks Iowans to share their best stories about the state's art, history, film and culture. The #NotToBrag campaign kicked off last Friday with this video featuring Iowans talking about people, places and other points of pride.

"Towns across the map have too many of their own best-kept secrets," says Mary Cownie, director of the DCA. "This campaign gives them a chance to share those stories. ... It gives them a license to brag."

Want to play along? Simply shoot a photo or video of something in Iowa that makes you proud and upload it to your social media with the campaign hashtag: #NotToBrag. No topic is too big, small or unusual, Cownie says. We at dsm--and our sister publication, ia--will be watching. 
Apparently, Iowa author Jennifer Wilson gets to travel afield from time to time, but she'll join other authors in a forum next week in Valley Junction.

Love to read? Love to write? Take a break from the holiday rush at Artisan Gallery 218, where authors will talk with readers next Monday, Dec. 19, at 6:30 p.m.

The free Writers/Readers Publishing Panel will include Calla Devlin, Kali Van Baale, Jennifer Wilson and Jenny Moyer. They'll share their writing experiences and answer questions about becoming an author.
  • Devlin's novel, "Tell Me Something Real," is a finalist for the American Library Association's Morris Award for debut teen fiction.
  • VanBaale's "The Space Between" earned an American Book Award and the Independent Publisher's silver medal for general fiction.
  • Wilson's "Running Away to Home" received the Best Nonfiction of 2011 Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Her recent book, "Water," is a fictional story about poisoned water in Iowa.

  • Moyer is currently on tour promoting her debut novel, "Flashfall," which has already received acclaim for the imaginative world it portrays.
Beaverdale Books will have the authors' work available for purchase and signing, plus there's oodles of artistic goodies to see at the gallery, located at  218 Fifth St. in Valley Junction. Questions? Call (515) 255-0218.

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