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Cheers started and heads RAW Des Moines, a monthly art show featuring local artists that launched last May. The event showcases artists from across Iowa who specialize in hair, makeup, fashion design, accessory design, visual art, photography, performing arts, music and film. Cheers hopes RAW Des Moines will give young artists the tools and relationships they need to begin their careers as well as help the city’s art scene grow.


What is RAW?

RAW is a company that formed in Southern California. It was a group of artists who were seeking to get their art out into the community to be seen. And they wanted to do this through small art events. It began to spread into other communities. And now we’re lucky that it’s here in Des Moines and will be launching in Omaha this year as well.

I went out to California and trained, and I got to see an actual RAW show before coming back to Des Moines to start it here last May. There was a lot of promotion... people were excited and told their friends. And it kind of has fostered this great arts community inside the larger Des Moines arts community. Now, we’ve got people coming from every part of the state and different genres to be involved with this.


How would you like to see the event grow?

My biggest thing is to just get eyes and ears on local artists that people aren’t familiar with. We’ve got some heavy hitters here, like if you were to ask someone their favorite local band, they’d probably say The Nadas. But we’ve got great artists out there that people just aren’t familiar with. So that’s my major goal - to just make sure there is an outlet for people to express their creativity and get out there in front of people, sell some artwork, make connections and collaborate. As far as the show itself, I really want to make sure we are carrying this L.A. vibe. I want to make it an event, not just a show. I want it to be something that people are actually seeking out to come to because it’s cool and because they can get perspective on what local art is and what local art is capable of. I want to make sure that the shows continue to bring that to the area.


Why is an event like RAW important for the Greater Des Moines community?

This goes for any community, not just Des Moines: When a community gets set in its ways, creativity just starts to dwindle. Everybody gets comfortable and does the same thing. When you bring in something new and fresh – especially since each one of the shows has new artists every month – that just fosters creativity. That is what we are about: giving artists the tools that they need to get their careers started and giving them the relationships needed for that to happen. Having people experiencing these new things is an integral part to continuing to evolve as a community.


Why do you think business leaders should support the arts?


Business leaders and business-minded people are so involved in our community. The art part of our community, I believe, is what truly makes our community cohesive. It is a true reflection of where our community is headed – it’s progressive. I think business people, especially, should be interested in that. We are the next generation, and all of these artists are young and emerging. That is where our city is headed.


How would you like to see Des Moines’ art scene grow?

When you talk to someone on the East Coast or the West Coast, I don’t want them to think cornfields and livestock. I want them to think booming art capital out in the middle of seemingly nowhere. I want them to think, “Wow, so many great artists have come out of there. That is a place to watch.”


RAW Des Moines’ 2013 launch event: Discovery

When: February 21

Where: 7 Flags Event Center. Doors open 7 p.m., show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Ticket cost: $10 in advance and $15 at the door.