DES MOINES, IA (February 2014) – The Art Center recently acquired works by three of the most significant artists working in our state today. The director and curators have followed their work for years, and fortuitously have now been able to add examples of their artwork to the permanent collections.
Larassa Kabel works in paintings, printmaking, and drawing, but according to Art Center Director Jeff Fleming, one of her greatest strengths lies in her drawing—she is an expert draftsman. The Art Center acquired Don’t Stop Believing, 2012, with Edmundson Art Foundation funds. This image is highly representative of her work, presenting an odd, even surreal image of the everyday. Here we see the stereotypical woman of the 1980s with big, highly hair-sprayed hair. The title comes from an 80s classic rock song by the band, Journey. Kabel is currently showing at Western Exhibitions in Chicago in the exhibition “Head.” The Art Center presented a solo show of her work in 2009, and she was part of the Iowa Artists group show in 2010. Kabel’s work was also chosen to be featured on the 2012 White House Christmas card.
Jim Shrosbree has exhibited his artwork many times at the Art Center, most notably in a solo show in 2004. Shrosbree creates highly personal works, often of clay and found materials, which create a new relationship between an object and the viewer. He focuses on the “rightness of scale” and a work’s ability to alter the physical or psychological space of the viewer. The work acquired by the Art Center, 06 Code X, 1997, is a gift of Wanda S. Schlaack. This sculpture is a prime example of his art—clay glazed a blazing orange color combined with found materials presented in an offhanded fashion. Shrosbee’s works are found in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Honolulu; the Detroit Institute of Art; the Mint Museum, Charlotte; the Arkansas Art Center; and the University of Iowa Museum of Art, where he has recently been awarded a major public commission for the U of I campus that will be part of the museum holdings.
The Art Center will present a solo show of Mitchell Squire’s work this fall as part of the Iowa Artists series. Squire looks at material culture—objects and their histories—to reexamine the past. A lithograph, Gladiators, 2013, was acquired with Edmundson Art Foundation funds. This lithograph presents a grouping of similar forms, some are jet black, others fade to white. The forms are representations of human targets used in shooting ranges and law enforcement artillery practice. The white flecks within the dark forms are bullet holes. With this information, the images take on an ominous quality. In 2012, Squire had a solo show at White Cube gallery in London, one of the premier galleries in that city.
Des Moines Art Center
Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.
The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.
In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a collaboration of the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.