If you really keep your eyes open and explore the people in this city, you'll find that Des Moines is full of all kinds of creatives — from dancers to musicians to poets to visual artists.
Here are a few folks that I've come to know throughout the years, and some that I just recently met at various music shows and art events. Each has their own craft, but all want to see the growth of the creativity in Des Moines to bloom.
Deven Boyd aka D'Monet, 34
Occupation/craft: Office Manager and singer/songwriter/musician
Things about DSM that nourish her creativity: Des Moines is so laid back. Being here without a lot of distraction, I've been able to concentrate more on my craft. When I moved here [from Memphis, TN], I had to start from scratch and connect with other musicians…and that's helped me.
Her vision for the city's creative future: Des Moines has so much potential and opportunity for the talent to be showcased and recognized and to not treat music as a hobby, or undermine or downplay the talent. This is the perfect place for music to grow and flourish.
One word to describe DSM: Open
What sparked her love for music: I have been singing since I was 4…my mom was a singer. We had a family choir and all the musicians were my cousins. I grew up singing and listening. What got me serious about the keyboard [was] when I got my heart torn up. I had had this keyboard but never really gotten on it, and one day, I said, well, let me get on here and see what comes out. The more I played the easier it became.
Words of wisdom: Someone told me, "Dream big and make them manifest." So whatever creative thoughts come to mind, implement it and put it out there. And don't just keep it an idea. See what it becomes.
Where you can find D'Monet: She performs as a solo act, but also with RSVP (Rhythm, soul, vibe project) and The Tighten Up. To watch her with RSVP, swing by Kenny's Pub on July 24 from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. or come on out to the Downtown Farmers' Market on Aug. 8 from 8 a.m. to noon. You can catch her with The Tighten Up every 1st Monday of the month at Ritual Café from 8 to 10 p.m., excluding July 6; and at Elks Lodge on June 27 and July 18 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Jordan Wright aka DM Wright, 24
Occupation/craft: DJ and dancer
Associated with dance group IA (Illest Around), Media Fresh, and IPU (Iowa Producers Union)
What keeps him in DSM: Family, friends and the future. I want to see what happens and hope to be a part of it.
Things about DSM that nourish his creativity: Seeing locals finding what they love to do as well as the support to do it.
His vision for the city's creative future: I would love to see us support each other like I know we can. I hope people will one day realize how many amazing individuals make up this city and that they are one of those amazing individuals.
One word to describe DSM: Home.
What sparked his love for music and dancing: The music, itself. Along with dance, music is a part of my culture and where I come from.
Words of wisdom: Stay humble.
Where you can find Wright: He'll be DJing on July 9 for the 80/35 pre-party concert at the Des Moines Social Club's the Basement, 901 Cherry St. Wright is more than just a DJ, though. He's also a dancer with moves so smooth you wouldn't believe he had bones.
Daniel Poe, 25
Occupation/craft: Optician and Balloon Artist, Owner of Creations With A Twist
Things about DSM that nourish his creativity: I've always prided myself on creating more than just another balloon dog. I want people to see my art and go, "Wow! I've never something like that!" When I am at the Downtown Farmers' Market, I create a huge sculpture that I've never made before and post it outside my tent.
His vision for the city's creative future: I want to see more creativity. People constantly say, "Oh, could never do that" to me. That's okay. This is my medium to express my creativity- there are thousands of creative outlets-find yours.
One word to describe DSM: Potential.
Most satisfying thing about his craft: Whenever I am creating balloon art, I am making people smile. There is nothing that can stop that. I've been working as balloon artist since I started my company 13 years ago. It is how I paid for college…I am lucky that my creative outlet is also a marketable one.
What sparked his love: My mom formed a clown troupe at our church. To be in it, I needed to have a talent. I went to Borders. I could choose between learning to twist balloons or learning how to burp the ABCs – you can guess which one my mom would pay for. I started making the simple one-balloon sculptures. I joined balloon artist forums and saw some of the amazing work that was being posted from around the world, and decided that I wanted to make something amazing too.
Words of wisdom: Just try new things. I would have never found my art if I didn't just open a book and give it a go.
Where you can find Poe: You can find him at the Downtown Farmers' Market on July 4 and Aug. 8. He'll also be at Prairie Meadows Family Days on July 26 and Aug. 9 or at Homemakers Furniture Customer Appreciation Carnival on Aug. 29.
Anthony San, 25
Occupation/craft: Breaking Instructor, B-boy (breaker)
What keeps him in DSM: I stayed because I had this weird feeling that Des Moines is going to be better year after year. I kept hearing…Des Moines is a canvas. It can be anything.
His vision for the city's creative future: I wanna see more support for local artists and events.
One word to describe DSM: Evolving
Most satisfying thing about his craft: The constant hunger to learn more and conquering moves. I also love seeing my students get difficult moves down that they worked really hard on. Seeing them always hungry to learn more satisfies me.
What sparked his love for dancing: My friends really got me into it during my senior year of high school…but it really got to me when I learned that it's a culture. It's more than just a dance where you express yourself. There is a lot more to it.
Words of wisdom: Keep after your goals no matter how hard life gets. Stay determined, stay hungry, keep fueling that drive to achieve your goals and don't let distractions get to you. Our city needs you more than you know!
Where you can find San: Check him out at the Crates & Breaks 2v2 B-boy/B-girl battle and Exhibition at the Des Moines Social Club, 900 Mulberry St., Des Moines on Aug. 8. Want to see him sooner? Or maybe learn how to get down and bust a move? You can sign up for his classes here: http://desmoinessocialclub.org/events/categories/dancemovement/
RunDSM/Movement 515: Emily Lang, 32 Kristopher Rollins, 33
Occupation/craft: Urban Arts Coordinators / Teachers/ Art advocates
E: Theater performer
K: Writer and visual artist
What brought them to DSM?
E: I came to Des Moines to go back to school [at Drake]. After I was at Drake, I knew I wanted to teach at Des Moines Public Schools. I was relentless and I waited until the very last minute. I was hired as an English and Speech Theater teacher at North.
K: I found my way to Des Moines because of a job opportunity at Harding Middle School because of Jake Troja, the former vice principal at Harding.
Where they find the most inspiration:
E: It's not about what we do for them—it's about what they do for us. They're the ones that give us the job. Working with girls, and youth in general, was always my [inspiration]. I feel like Des Moines is packed with warrior women.
K: I'm really inspired by our young people and their stories. To see them inspire each other is inspiring. They are each other's role models. Outside of the youth, I want to acknowledge Words Taylor. To see an artist get youth involved is inspiring.
Their vision for the city's creative future:
E: We want to see the work that our young people are doing as they transition out of high school. We want to see them continue their art and see the community support their art…and to have more artistic events created for them.
K: Creating teaching artists…and how can we get those artists to work with young people? How can we get more young people to want to become teachers?
One word to describe DSM:
Most satisfying thing:
E: Seeing them shine on stage, own their stories, own their experiences, own their trauma, and seeing their confidence rise is so cool.
K: Watching the youth be empowered by the space being provided for them. To see a young person own their truth, and spit it, and walk off to feel empowered is great. They raise the bars for themselves.
What sparked their love for being art advocates:
E: We were working at Harding Middle School. People would say offensive things about the kids. We wanted to create opportunities so the public could wake up and stop labeling them as at risk .... It was out of this that started the fire in us. How can we use our privileges to start a platform?
K: I took a cadet teaching class in my hometown and worked with kids. I wanted to major in history. I'll be a teacher and the more I did it, it just felt really good helping young people. They are really engaged by various forms of artistic expression that have not been traditionally valued in public school settings. Therefore, Emily and I wanted to attempt to create a space that allowed them to showcase that in an attempt to get other to see its power.
Words of wisdom:
E: Don't be afraid to take big risks, but also remember to always leave with love. I feel when you do that you will win, always. You will come out ahead, always.
K: Try anything. The worst response you'll get is, "No."
Where to find Lang and Rollins: They're fighters of justice, but also lovers of the arts. You can stay up to date by following their blog: http://rundsm.org/