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REVIEW: Grand View Student Show @ Viaduct

by Jean Gaillard on May 9, 2014


Detail of an interactive piece in the Grand View Art & Design Department’s Annual Student Competition (Source)

If you haven’t stopped by to see it, drag your mother there and enjoy the show. Mother’s Day is the last day to view this exhibition. First the details from the Des Moines Social Club’s facebook event’s page:

“The Grand View Art & Design Department’s Annual Student Competition is an annual event that is open to entries from all current Grand View Art & Design students. The entries and award winners are juried and selected by a panel of outside professionals in the field of art. Each spring this exhibit showcases the very best work of Grand View’s student artists.” 

Exhibit: April 18 - May 11

Viaduct Gallery at the Des Moines Social Club

900 Mulberry Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Gallery Hours

Monday - Friday: 10am - 6pm

Saturday: 10am - 5pm

Sunday: 12pm - 6pm


Installation of the show at Viaduct (Source: Jean Gaillard)

Student shows can really be a wash. Juried shows are, in general, unpredictable at best. There is the organization, the pool of participating artists, and the juror. In the case of student shows, every year or two you are getting a completely new batch of ideas and ideals. It’s hard. As a curator, seamlessly blending conflicting concepts, media, and styles can be a challenge at best and an unresolvable visual issue at worst.

The Grand View College’s show is no different. Issues of social and environmental grounding as well as flights of fantasy and purely aesthetic choices come together.


Hannah Humphrey, Untitled (Source: Jean Gaillard)

Upon entering the gallery, the paper cityscape on the pedestal was the first thing to catch my eye. I would have enjoyed learning more about the piece than just the artist’s name and title. That would be my one criticism of the show, there was a lack of statements about the work. Maybe it is because I enjoy the written word so greatly, I am bias I must admit. I feel it would be good for a college to develop a student’s ability to write about their work right alongside making it. While work should speak for itself, grants and residency applications (so important to an artist’s longevity) rely more often than not on an artist’s abilities to communicate their ideas. I’m digressing.


Carolyn Phongphachone, Market Day - 3rd Place (Source: Jean Gaillard)

I felt pulled from the pedestal to the long pen and ink drawing depicting a whimsical street scene. Pausing for a bit to enjoy it, I again felt a bit of longing to learn more. Pure aesthetic enjoyment or something more? I’ll never know.

There was one piece that at first I didn’t see or really make a note of mentally. It wasn’t until I was across the room, back in the lower section of the gallery that I saw a pristine painting, all pastels. There is something about it that felt so “now”, but also firmly footed in the contemporary art paintings of the 1980’s. Maybe it is just the pastel color palette. The graphic nature of the painting style felt very “A Bigger Splash” by Hockney.

Textile arts were as usual largely under represented, but that has more I think to do with the lack of quality programs in the area - sad considering the history of the craft in the region - than the aptitude of the students. 

All of that being said, the general impression that I left with was that the work was all very well done. The presentation was professional, and the curator had managed to wrangle all of the divergent discourse in one room and somehow make it look cohesive. Well done.

Jean Gaillard is a freelance writer living in Ames, Iowa. Enjoys gardening, art, and has a cat named Rousseau.