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Posts tagged yellow door gallery
interview with emily susanin kessinger, yellow door gallery

credit: Preservation.

Will Signs caught up with Emily Susanin Kessinger of Yellow Door Gallery to learn more about the gallery she and her husband run in their home, hear about her vision for the space, get her take on the art scene in Des Moines and discuss all things Art Week Des Moines.

Why did you decide to open Yellow Door Gallery? 

My husband, Mason, and I have a friend in D.C. (Chris Maier) who runs an amazing initiative called Little Salon. He organizes salons in other people’s homes monthly and has creators come together and share their art, music, song, dance, food, drink, whatever. I loved the idea of such events and thought about trying something similar out in Chicago, where we lived before moving to Des Moines. I never got around to it in Chicago but knew it was something I’d pursue when the time was right. So, when we moved to Des Moines in 2016, we decided to try out Yellow Door Gallery – a different yet somewhat related idea here in the community – and it clicked. While our model isn’t that similar to Little Salon, I give credit to Chris for the inspiration and for encouraging me to try my own version of salon hosting. Turns out, it morphed in to more that I could have imagined.

So, back to your real question: Why Yellow Door Gallery? For Des Moines. For artists. For something different, something changing, something that expands one’s mind and one’s view of the world.

What led to the decision to open a gallery in your home, rather than in another space?

While I’d love to have a gallery in another space, I believe Yellow Door Gallery is where it’s supposed to (physically) be for now. Running a space elsewhere in Des Moines would take time and money away from other pursuits and interests that I have in life. Plus, I work full-time at Weitz doing marketing and communications, and I love my job and the people there. I enjoy having two vocations and passions that I can switch between.

What is the philosophy that drives how you choose topics and artists for exhibitions, salons and other events at Yellow Door?

I curate the gallery shows with emerging contemporary artists that are pushing boundaries, unique in their practice, and creating art, objects or installations that make me stop and think. Sometimes they’re local. Sometimes they’re not. Most all of the artists I have shown are friends or friends of friends or friends of friends of friends. Benjamin Gardner and Andy Davis were the first two artists to have a show at Yellow Door. They were local. I’ve known Andy for 15 years, and he is one of the big reasons I finally launched the space. Mostly because he kept saying, “Why not?” and I listened to that. He believed in it, and I believed it in. And it worked.

I met Benjamin Gardner thanks to Instagram, and he referred the next three artists who I showed at Yellow Door to me directly (THANKS, BEN!). Then, one of the artists he referred whose work I just LOVE, Gyan Shrosbree (of Fairfield), introduced me to the work of Katy Kirbach (of Fairfield/Chicago/Berlin). Then, Katy did a show with her extremely talented friend Zoe Nelson (now of New York). Then, an incredible artist, Heidi Wiren Bartlett, had a performance I saw in Chicago in 2015 that really stuck with me. I found out she was in Iowa City and contacted her there. She wanted to do a show with her friend Kuldeep Singh (of New York), and so it went from there. Referrals, listening to IPR, Instagram, conversations with friends and strangers – that is how exhibitions come together.

I’d say the salons and other events are similar. When you surround yourself with good people doing great things or have friends who know good people who do great things, your network widens and you feel the strength of the community. There have been a few awesome “cold calls” that I’ve made or that have been made of me. One that sticks out is when April and Josh Visnapuu of Open Door Rep emailed me out of the blue. I was SUPER excited to hear from them and meet them for a coffee date with Mason. They are a driven, adorable couple and were launching a pop-up theatre company. What wasn’t to like, and how could I say no? WE BOTH HAD DOOR IN OUR NAMES! So, we partner quarterly and continue to support one another. It’s a neat thing.

You’re originally from Des Moines, and your husband, Mason, is a transplant to the city. What are your thoughts on the art scene in Des Moines, and how have you seen it change since you’ve been back?

The art scene here is growing and vibrant and getting more diverse by the day. We have a freaking Kerry James Marshall now in our public art collection! Mainframe is a major attraction in our city. We have a wonderful Art Center and some rad groups within it (Art Noir, Print Club, Salon 4700). Shoot, Art Week Des Moines is a huge deal, and so is the Des Moines Arts Festival. The Barnum Factory is open and thriving. Art Terrarium in Elevencherry is hosting unique events and bringing artists and creators together. Olson-Larsen and Moberg Gallery continue to have incredible shows of local, regional and national artists, and fun events in and out of their gallery spaces. I love the OL (Olson-Larsen) Guild concept. There are various exhibition spaces around town in places one wouldn’t normally think to look, including in Blackbird’s Wilkins Building lobby, Baratta’s at the Historical Building, Mars Cafe, The Lift and so many others. It’s SWEET. And it’s only going to get sweeter. I love when people come visit because there’s always so much to do within the art scene.

What does Yellow Door Gallery have planned for Art Week 2018?

* RDG Dahlquist Art Studios Tour: Thursday, June 21; 5:30-7:30 p.m.

* June Exhibition Featuring Michael Velliquette and Joey Faerso: Sunday, June 24; 1-4 p.m. (exhibition open June 9 - July 8)

* Art Week Wind Down Yoga at Yellow Door Gallery: Sunday, June 24; 4-5 p.m. ($5 suggested donation)

Visit for details. See these events and others on the full Art Week Des Moines event schedule:

What Art Week events are you most excited to take part in?

The Artist Studio Tours that were organized this year each day of DSM Art Week are an awesome feature and super exciting to see on the lineup. I’m stoked to attend as many of those as I can. In addition, there are some great shows up during that time at Art Terrarium, Olson-Larsen and more. I’ll see Betsy Hart’s work at The Lift during Art Week and attend the Festival over the weekend. It’s also fun to check out the Des Moines Social Club’s Urban Visionaries show. So much to do in one week. Ah, I better start planning now.

Are there artists that you’re looking forward to seeing at the 2018 Des Moines Arts Festival?

It’s a secret.

Yellow Door Gallery is a residential alternative gallery space that is shifting the perceptions and dynamics of visual, aural, and performance art. Located in a private home in Des Moines, Iowa, the space connects emerging artists and collectors through salons, installations, concerts, and afternoon teas.

2121 Wakonda Drive

Des Moines, IA 50321

Open Sundays 1-4 p.m. or by appointment.

Interested in making an appointment or sharing your work? Contact

week of 6/4

via Joey Fauerso, Dig Three Tunnels, painted wood, steel and canvas,
54"w x 106"h. 2018.

salon #12: my long time friend and colleague

Join Yellow Door Gallery for My Long Time Friend and Colleague and Salon #12, featuring art by Michael Velliquette and Joey Fauerso, music by Glitter Density, comedy by Sid Juwarker, and plants/ceramics/wares from Art Terrarium. Wine + beer are always provided, but a BYO libation or morsel to share is always commendable. The new gallery show opens at 6:00pm and performances begin at 8:00pm.


5 PM Jerry Ranch - Photography Reception, Ankeny Art Center
5 PM Mavis Simms - Fiber Art Reception, Ankeny Art Center
5 PM Bill Nellans Artist’s Reception Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
5:30 PM Iowa Exhibited Awards Reception Polk County Heritage Gallery
6:30 PM Lecture: Sterling Ruby in Dialogue with Jeff Fleming, Des Moines Art Center
7 PM Artists Open Studio in Bodine Lab, Iowa Lakeside Laboratory-in-Residence Program

5 PM Opening Reception for HUSH, Barnum Factory
5 PM Exhibition Opening: Sterling Ruby - Ceramics + In the Spirit of Louise Noun, Des Moines Art Center
5 PM My Long Time Friend and Colleague // Salon #12, Yellow Door Gallery

5 PM 2018 Pride Fest, Historic East Village

12 PM Brilliant Crafts and Wares Fair: Summah Time Again, Vaudeville Mews
1:30 PM Celebrating Louise Rosenfield Noun in Five Stories, Des Moines Art Center


**new and last chance**

Phenix School, Affordable Artist Apartments Valley Junction APPLY NOW


** Art Wave on the Prairie Deadline June 15**

4th Annual 48 Hour Plein Air Painting Festival June 15-17

War Paint 2018 Registration Open for June 20th Showdown

Call for Art - Poster Shows for Gun Safety Deadline June 21

Aperture: The Biennial Juried Photography Exhibit 2018 Deadline July 20

Call for Filmmakers: 48 Hour Film Festival Happening July 20 - 22, 2018

Elsewhere Residency Deadline July 27

Support Art Beacon on Patreon for a dollar a month.

Art Beacon is supported with monthly financial contributions provided by Visionary and also through individual support on Patreon. Your support helps us spread the word about artists making and showing their work in our community.

week of 4/16

via Adam Cipcic, “Honor Thy/ We Don’t Get to Choose/ If Only She.” 2016. Oil on Canvas. 96”x 72”

salon #11 / somewhere in between 
Join Yellow Door Gallery in partnership with The University of Iowa’s ATRIUM for art exploration and Salon #11, featuring art by Adam Cipcic (currently of Chicago) and Joe Devera (a Grant Woods Scholar), bio-regional folk herbalism by The Potager, music by Elizabeth Moen, and food by Cyd’s Catering.

**last chance: “PHOBIA + SERIES I” Jeff Rider, Polk County Heritage Gallery**
6:30 PM Performance Art & Punk Show at The Split
7 PM Fractals of Identity: Identity through Art, Text, and Music, Public Space One

4:30 PM Nocturne 5: Unveiling a New Public Art Acquisition, Morrill Hall, Ames
5 PM This Is Now interactive street art, ISU Design on Main

6 PM Prismatic: Grand View University Design Portfolio Night, Grand View University Speed Lyceum
7:30 PM Lecture: Andrew Shelton, "Coquettes, Lorettes and ‘Les Grandes Horizontales’: Representations of Sexualized Women in Nineteenth-Century French Visual Culture", University of Iowa Art Building West

12:30pm Workshop: You Be The Judge, Des Moines Art Center
4:20pm To The Nines: A High-Class Flapjack Shindig, Saturday Mfg
5 PM Opening Reception, Mobery Gallery

10AM Art Day, Urbandale Public Library
4 PM Left/Over Objects MFA Thesis Exhibition, Gallery in the Round
5 PM Bricks & Blocks Exhibition Reception, Grinnell Arts Center
6 PM Salon #11 / Somewhere in Between, Yellow Door Gallery

1:30 PM “Kusama - Infinity” Screening + Remarks by Curator Laura Burkhalter, Fleur Cinema & Cafe
5 PM FEMIfest 2018, Noce 

Support Art Beacon on Patreon for a dollar a month.

** last chance: Harpo Foundation Deadline April 20 **

Iowa Arts Council Project Grants Deadline May 1

Submit Events for the 2018 Art Week Des Moines Deadline May 31

**new: 2018 IOWA STATE FAIR FINE ART EXHIBITION Deadline June 8**

GG’s Classified Updated weekly

Art Beacon is supported with monthly financial contributions provided by Visionary and also through individual support on Patreon. Your support helps us spread the word about artists making and showing their work in our community.