Des Moines Art Center: Artistic Routes for Urban Bikers

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Welcome to the Des Moines Art Center, where art and biking converge to create a unique and exciting experience for urban bikers like yourself. If you’re passionate about both art and cycling, then we have the perfect adventure waiting for you. Explore the vibrant streets of Des Moines on two wheels while discovering iconic sculptures, public art installations, and the rich artistic landscape of the city.

At the Des Moines Art Center, we’ve curated a series of artistic routes that will take you on a journey through the heart of the city, showcasing its vibrant neighborhoods and cultural landmarks. Hop on your bike and pedal your way through these routes, immersing yourself in the artistic expressions that define our community.

Discover the Des Moines Art Center’s partnership with local artists and organizations, who have helped create this network of biking trails that celebrate community identity and foster a sense of place. Whether you’re a resident of Des Moines or a visitor, Art Biking is an exciting and immersive way to experience the city’s artistic charm.

So gear up, hop on your bike, and embark on a journey that combines the joy of cycling with the beauty of art. Get ready to explore the Des Moines Art Center’s artistic routes and discover the vibrant cultural scene that awaits you.

The Importance of Shelters and Public Art

Shelters are a frequently requested service enhancement by DART riders and stakeholders. The addition of public art to these shelters not only provides protection from the elements but also celebrates community identity and fosters a sense of place.

The integration of public art with shelters creates a regional canvas that enhances accessibility and connects communities. The 6th Avenue Corridor Urban Neighborhood Main Street Program, accredited by the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has been instrumental in bringing public art to the shelter designs.

The artist Sheena Rose, selected through a jury process, aimed to capture the vibrancy, diversity, and resilience of the 6th Avenue Corridor and its residents through her artistic vision.

By integrating public art into shelter designs, the Des Moines community creates a welcoming and visually stimulating environment for residents and visitors alike. The artwork not only enhances the shelters’ functionality but also serves as a reflection of the community’s values and cultural heritage. Public art fosters a sense of pride and belonging, strengthening community bonds and promoting a positive community identity.

The Vibrant Connection Between Shelters and Community Identity

  • Public art celebrates the unique characteristics of different neighborhoods and communities within Des Moines.
  • Artistic shelters contribute to the overall aesthetic appeal of the city, creating visually pleasing and engaging spaces.
  • Public art in shelters serves as a conversation starter and a point of connection for residents and visitors.
  • The integration of art into shelters highlights the importance of creativity and artistic expression in community development.

Through the combination of functional design and artistic elements, shelters become more than just physical structures. They become symbols of community pride, resilience, and identity. The inclusion of public art in shelters transforms daily commutes and waiting areas into memorable experiences that foster a sense of place and community.

The Des Moines Art Center: A Collaborative Effort

Des Moines Art Center

The Des Moines Art Center is a vibrant institution that thrives on the collaborative efforts of many talented individuals working behind the scenes. From the dedicated security team and front desk staff to the creative shop associates and meticulous facilities team, every department plays a crucial role in the smooth running of the Art Center.

Working in harmony, the installations and registration teams ensure that the Art Center’s priceless holdings are carefully protected and made accessible for the public to enjoy. The curatorial department curates thought-provoking exhibitions, while the education department creates engaging programs to nurture art appreciation among visitors of all ages. The studio department provides a space for artistic experimentation, and the events and rental team transforms the Art Center into a stunning venue for special occasions.

Behind the scenes, the development team secures funding and support for the Art Center’s initiatives, while the finance and HR teams ensure the organization operates smoothly. The IT team keeps the digital infrastructure running seamlessly, supporting the Art Center’s online presence and technological needs.

“The Des Moines Art Center is a testament to the power of collaboration. It is the result of the combined efforts and expertise of passionate individuals who share a common goal: to provide transformative art experiences for the community.”

Together, these talented individuals work tirelessly to create a dynamic and immersive environment where art comes to life. Their collaborative efforts establish the Art Center as a cultural hub that fosters creativity, celebrates diversity, and enriches the lives of all who engage with its offerings.

The Des Moines Art Center is more than just a gallery; it is a symbol of the power of collaboration and the impact of art experiences. Through the collective talents and dedication of its staff, the Art Center continues to push boundaries, inspire creativity, and connect communities through the universal language of art.

Alison Elizabeth Taylor: The Sum of It

Alison Elizabeth Taylor is a contemporary artist renowned for her innovative use of marquetry in conjunction with gritty and thought-provoking subject matter. Through her exhibition, “The Sum of It,” Taylor showcases her extraordinary skill in this rare art form while exploring the complexities of 21st-century American life and culture.

Taylor’s works captivate viewers with their large-scale single panel pieces and room-sized installations, exemplifying her evolution as an artist. She delves into early paintings inspired by natural woods and transitions into vividly colored compositions that seamlessly combine marquetry, paint, and photographic imagery. Through her art, Taylor raises profound questions about painting, America, and identity.

The Des Moines Art Center provides a comprehensive overview of Taylor’s unique artistic style and narrative-driven approach. Her exhibition transports visitors into a world where marquetry becomes a medium for storytelling, allowing the intricate wood veneers to convey powerful messages and evoke profound emotions. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience Alison Elizabeth Taylor’s masterpieces at the Des Moines Art Center.

Hold Me Closer: Exploring Intimacy in Art

Intimacy in Art

The exhibition “Hold Me Closer” at the Des Moines Art Center delves into the captivating theme of intimacy in art. It showcases a curated selection of prints and photographs from the Art Center’s permanent collection, all of which evoke various emotional tones associated with close interpersonal connections. From jubilant and sweet portrayals to bittersweet and unsettling depictions, these artworks offer a range of perspectives on the human experience of intimacy.

Featuring pieces dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, the exhibition represents the prowess of renowned artists who have explored this profound subject matter. Visitors can expect to encounter works by esteemed creators such as Mary Cassatt, Elizabeth Catlett, Larry Fink, and Käthe Kollwitz, among others. Each artist brings their unique vision and artistic style to capture the essence of human connection in its diverse forms of expression.

The “Hold Me Closer” exhibition invites viewers to reflect on the significance of intimate relationships and the myriad ways they are conveyed through artistic creation. By immersing yourself in this thought-provoking collection, you will gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies and complexities that lie within the realm of human connection.

Notable Pieces:

  • “Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt
  • “The Lovers I” by Elizabeth Catlett
  • “Two Boys, Times Square” by Larry Fink
  • “Mother with Dead Child” by Käthe Kollwitz


“The ‘Hold Me Closer’ exhibition beautifully captures the intricate dance of emotions that arise from intimate connections, allowing viewers to explore the depth and diversity of human relationships.” – Art Critic

Miriam Alarcón Avila: Immigrant Luchadores

Miriam Alarcón Avila Exhibition

Miriam Alarcón Avila is an extraordinary artist who captures the essence of the Latinx community in Iowa through her powerful photography-based approach. Her series, “Immigrant Luchadores,” delves into the individual experiences and narratives of her subjects, shedding light on their remarkable stories.

In her collaboration with her subjects, Alarcón Avila creates masks that embody the heroic and poignant nature of their characters. These masks become artistic expressions that celebrate the unique artistry and style within the black community.

At the Des Moines Art Center, visitors can immerse themselves in Alarcón Avila’s exhibition, where photography, masks, sculpture, stories, poems, and a captivating video beautifully encapsulate the artist’s collaborations. This multidimensional approach captures the attention and sparks meaningful conversations surrounding the Latinx community’s individuality and their significant contributions to the wider community.

Immerse yourself in the powerful visual narratives of Miriam Alarcón Avila’s “Immigrant Luchadores” and witness the vibrant spirit and resilience of the Latinx community through her artistic lens.

The Art Bus: A Moving Canvas

Art Bus

The Des Moines Art Center has partnered with DART and the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation to create a series of art buses that serve as moving canvases for artistic expression. The tenth art bus, titled “Multiple Black” and designed by artist Mitchell Squire, showcases a collage of original photographs that celebrate the artistry and style within the black community.

The public can view the art bus as it travels on DART bus routes throughout Greater Des Moines, providing a unique and accessible platform for contemporary art.

The Art Bus project is part of the Public Art Foundation’s initiative to bring compelling and contemporary artworks to highly visible public spaces.

Unveiling the Art Bus and Community Impact

Community Impact

The recent unveiling of the tenth art bus was a momentous event that brought together representatives from the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, DART, and local performing artists. This collaborative celebration took place at Hansen Triangle and showcased the power of community engagement and artistic expression.

During the unveiling ceremony, traditional statements were shared, setting the stage for an evening filled with creativity and inspiration. The event featured poetry readings by the talented Daron Richardson, whose words captivated the audience and added a touch of literary elegance to the occasion.

The Jordan Gregory Dancers graced the stage with their exquisite performances, their movements intertwining rhythm and grace to reflect the artistic spirit that resonates throughout the Greater Des Moines region.

One of the highlights of the evening was a captivating performance by Hip Hop musician MarKaus. His music filled the air, amplifying the energy and excitement surrounding the unveiling of the art bus.

“The art bus serves as a symbol of community engagement and artistic expression, enhancing the lives of those who interact with it on a daily basis.”

The unveiling ceremony was not only a celebration of art but also an opportunity to recognize the positive impact of the art bus in the community. Awards were presented to organizations like Art Force Iowa, CFUM (Children Family Urban Movement), and Urban Dreams, each receiving $500. These funds will be used to provide bus passes, reducing transportation barriers for youth, families, and individuals in need throughout the Greater Des Moines region.

With its striking exterior design and vibrant artwork, the art bus serves as a moving canvas that sparks conversations, inspires creativity, and traverses the streets, enhancing the lives of those who encounter it. Its presence on the roads is a testament to the lasting community impact that can be achieved through the fusion of art, transportation, and collaboration.

Mitchell Squire: Artist and Educator

Mitchell Squire is an esteemed artist and educator who has made significant contributions to the fields of architecture, visual art, and the study of material culture. With his diverse artistic practice, Squire has garnered recognition both nationally and internationally, with his work being exhibited in prestigious institutions and galleries around the world.

His artistic journey has led him to complete residencies and participate in educational programs at renowned institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum in New York. Through these experiences, Squire has honed his unique artistic perspective and cultivated a deep understanding of the art world.

The Des Moines Art Center is proud to include Squire’s works in its esteemed collection. His pieces can be found in public and private collections globally, further solidifying his impact and influence in the art community.

In addition to his artistic endeavors, Squire holds the position of Professor of Architecture at Iowa State University. In this role, he imparts his extensive knowledge and passion for the arts to future generations of artists and designers.

Mitchell Squire’s involvement in the creation of the “Multiple Black” art bus design is a testament to his artistic prowess and commitment to public art. His contributions to the project have elevated the art bus initiative, making it a captivating and meaningful addition to the Greater Des Moines region.

The Art Bus Series: A Platform for Contemporary Art

The art bus project is part of a series of DART buses that have been wrapped with unique and colorful compositions. Artists such as Alex Brown, Jay Vigon, Susan Chrysler White, Larassa Kabel, Brent Holland, Jordan Weber, Benjamin Gardner, Nick Goettling, Marianne Fairbanks, and now Mitchell Squire have participated in the Art Bus Series. Each artist brings their own artistic style and vision to the project, transforming the buses into vibrant moving artworks.

The project provides a platform for contemporary art to reach a wider audience and brings art out of traditional gallery spaces into the everyday lives of people in the Des Moines community. The Art Bus Series has become a beloved and recognizable feature of public transportation in the city.


Art biking in Des Moines offers a unique and immersive experience for urban bikers. The Des Moines Art Center, through collaborations with artists and organizations, has created a network of artistic routes that celebrate community identity, foster a sense of place, and enhance accessibility. Whether you’re exploring the city’s iconic sculptures, delving into the themes of intimacy in art, or admiring the moving canvas of the art buses, Des Moines Art Biking offers a dynamic and engaging way to experience the city’s artistic landscape.

By integrating public art with shelters, the Des Moines Art Center not only provides protection from the elements but also transforms these spaces into vibrant reflections of community identity. The diverse exhibitions showcased at the Art Center offer a comprehensive overview of different artistic expressions, from contemporary marquetry to prints and photographs exploring the depths of intimacy. The Art Center’s commitment to collaboration has established it as a cultural hub, inviting both art enthusiasts and bikers to explore the rich tapestry of Des Moines’ artistic offerings.

So whether you’re a local resident looking for a new way to explore your city or a visitor seeking a unique cultural experience, Des Moines Art Biking is the perfect fusion of artistic exploration and urban biking. Pedal your way through the city’s artistic routes, discover hidden gems, and immerse yourself in the vibrant creativity that Des Moines has to offer. Get ready to embark on a journey that celebrates art, community, and the joy of biking in Des Moines.


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