The Des Moines Arts Festival that kicks off tomorrow in Western Gateway Park provides plenty of entertainment, but it's also possible and even affordable to attend as an art collector, according to Brooke Benschoter, a publicist for the festival and a collector herself.

 

Benschoter started collecting the festival's posters when she was in college and didn't have a lot of money to spend. She said she's especially pleased about this year's poster, based on an original work created by Will Armstrong, of Richmond, Va., for the festival.

 

"When I saw Will's work, I had to have one, not just because it's part of a collection, but because it is distinctly Des Moines. And the art is affordable," Benschoter said.

 

Here are two more  artists, previous festival award-winners, you might want to check out and the local business people who collect their work.  

 

2003 and 2004 Best of 2-D Mixed Media Winner  - H.C. Porter, Vicksburg, Miss.

 

When Mike Wedeking and Suzanne Van Englehoven made their first purchase from Mississippi printmaker Chris "H.C." Porter at the Des Moines Arts Festival, they didn't realize that artwork would shape their restaurant, Flying Mango, as well.

 

"We bought the Coca-Cola front print in 2003," said Van Englehoven, who owns and operates the restaurant her husband. "Chris was a frequent visitor to our food booth. We struck up a friendship as well as a love for her work." That first print hangs in their business today.

 

The next year, the couple decided to invest their food booth profits from the festival in more Porter pieces for the restaurant. Today, the Flying Mango is like an H.C. Porter gallery and the couple still collect for their home. 

 

2010 Best of 3-D Mixed Media - Nicario Jimenez, Naples Fla.

 

Susan Judkins Josten said she and her attorney husband, Bob, began collecting the work of Nicario Jimenez after their interest in collecting was fueled by Bob's daughter, Jennifer Josten, and her work in art history while getting her Ph.D. at Yale University.

 

The pair bought one of their first pieces from Jimenez, whose mixed-media pieces include figures sculpted from potato paste, and they have been collecting ever since. Recently they have been buying several other artists' work at the festival each year.

 

For more information about festival artists, visit www.desmoinesartsfestival.org.