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Studio hopping during Art 316's Open House

Art 316 Open House

November 2, 2012


This was found in the Chadwick and Bergstrom Furniture workshop.   Photo: Jennifer Mitchard

Review by guest contributor Jennifer Mitchard

November 20, 2012

Art 316’s Annual Open House is a dizzyingly busy event. The five story building is full of artist studios of all varieties; painters, sculptures, graphic designers, architects, potters, and furniture makers are among those who work at Art 316. Many of the artists working in the building are among the most successful in Des Moines, Alex Brown and Ron Wagner being the most familiar to me.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the event was that I couldn’t see very many finished pieces on display. I quickly felt reminded that it was not an art show but simply an open studio. Initially I felt at loss but as I moved through the building, I found more and more great work on display.


Joseph Hansen’s paintings hung in his studio during the opening   Photo: Jennifer Mitchard

Joseph Hansen, an oil painter, had a full display of his work hung on the walls of his studio. Joe grew up in Iowa but relocated to Los Angeles for 11 years (painting the whole time) before moving back to Des Moines a couple years ago. His abstract color paintings are layered with texture. They reminded me of old concrete walls that have been painted over and over again but the paint keeps chipping. Subtle and stark color shifts intermingle on his canvases creating an interesting and safe composition.


Illustration by Ron Wagner   Photo: Jennifer Mitchard

The studio of Ron Wagner hosted more than just his wonderful illustrations. In addition to his hand drawn storyboards, there were other artists on display. Like Tyler Walpole’s realistic illustrations and Adam Van Wyk’s digital work. Adam was also giving a demonstration of digital storyboarding by drawing on a Wacom monitor.


Adam Van Wyk demonstrating digital storyboarding   Photo: Jennifer Mitchard

Chad Owen’s graphic design studio had a great catalog of his designs cleanly displayed. He told me that the work he was showing that night was part of a design a day project he publishes on his blog. One of many that caught my eye was a two color print with a photo of an old dilapidated house with a yellow typeface overlay reading “Bless This Meth”. This piece in particular brought some unwanted attention online he told me. All of his pieces were clean and interesting. They presented a wide variety of subject matter from innocent child-friendly to corporate to dark and snarky.


Excerpt from Chad Owen’s Design a Day project   Photo: Jennifer Mitchard

The large range of work at the Art 316 Open House made it a great event and I look forward to attending in the future to see what these great Des Moines artists are up to.

Jennifer Mitchard is an artist, photographer, graphic designer, and writer, living and working in downtown Des Moines. She is the co-owner of JeTim Art Photography and a designer at RAYGUN. She studied Art and Writing in Central Iowa and Northern California. Find her work at