Arts Projects


Green Arts Sustainability Program
Winner of the Gold Pinnacle Award for Best Recycling Program
from the International Festivals and Events Association

The Des Moines Arts Festival® and official sponsor, Hy-Vee join forces to reduce, reuse and recycle with environmentally-friendly initiatives and a little creativity.

  • Working with key stakeholders, a comprehensive long-range Sustainability Vision is currently under construction to identify strategies and objectives to achieve Zero Waste by 2016.
  • A Sustainability Team is on the ground in 2013 dedicated to ensuring the goals of the Vision are not compromised.
  • Vinyl banners used during the Festival are recycled and made into tote bags and other uses rather than deposited in the landfill.
  • Free bike valet service provided by Friends of Central Iowa Trails encourages guests to cycle to the Festival instead of driving.
  • All generators, refrigerated, and freezer trucks on the Festival site run on a biodiesel blend
  • A solar generator is also used on-site at the Festival.
  • Any paper correspondence is printed on recycled paper and postconsumer waste materials
  • Food vendors are required to use biodegradable plates, utensils, napkins, and containers.
  • Artists and volunteers provided designated water stations to fill reusable bottles eliminating thousands of disposable plastic bottles
  • Information provided to all participating vendors is delivered electronically and posted on the Festival's web site in order to eliminate paper and other non-recyclable products.
  • Other merchandise options are non-woven bags that can be reused by guests as tote bags, and reusable water bottles.
  • Beverages sold in recyclable plastic bottles, aluminum or poured into compostable cups made from corn.
  • The application process for the juried art fair is completely paperless by using an online registration, application, jury and communications system called ZAPPlication.
  • Seventeen custom-designed waste stations are positioned throughout the Festival site to accommodate recyclables, compostables and landfill.
    All waste is logged and accounted for providing for a compressive checks and balances following the Festival


Paint the Skywalk 

Paint the Skywalk combines the innovation of Emerging Iowa Artists with the efforts of the Principal Financial Group to beautify the downtown skywalk system. The Principal Financial Group is a co-sponsor of the Des Moines Arts Festival and presenter of the Emerging Iowa Artists Program.

Guests at the 2013 Des Moines Arts Festival® were invited to help create a GIANT mural inspired by the work of Abigail Cooper, one of the 2013 Emerging Iowa Artists. The original image, seen to the right, measures 2'x8.5'. 

When finished the mural has 980 6"x6" panels and measure 7'x35' and is now permantly installed in the Skywalk.

If you would like to help create the new mural, visit The Principal Financial Group booth on Locust between 12th and 13th street.


2013 Community Outreach Activities

Balloons   Stop by the WHO-HD Des Moines booth on the Meredith Corporation Lawn to meet on-air personalities and get a balloon.

Spin Art   Children will have a great time at the Prairie Meadows booth spinning their own art creation.

Reusable Bags   Join Hy-Vee associates to design and decorate your own reusable bag. 

Paper Bag Puppets   Create paper bag puppets that reflect intergenerational relationships at play.

Canvas Painting    Show off your inner Picasso and create a masterpiece on canvas using many different drawing tools and art techniques. 

Paper Cup Pets & “Pin the ID”   Play “Pin the ID” on the cat or dog, and learn about why pets should have a collar and ID tags. Guests can also create pets using paper cup.

Customizable Wearable Art   Join Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa to decorate a t-shirt and headband.

African Rain Stick   Celebrate the newest expansion to the Blank Park Zoo, the Jaama Kwa 'Connection to Africa exhibits, by making an African rain stick!

Help Decorate a Kid-Sized Cardboard House   Central Iowa Shelter & Services will help you decorate a kid-sized cardboard house while learning about homelessness in Iowa and across the country.

“Magic” Masks   Make a “magic” mask by scraping and revealing colors that lie underneath your mask.

Concert Wristband   Stop by the Des Moines Music Coalition's booth to make and decorate your own 80/35 wristband!

Marble Painting   Join GiGi's Playhouse Des Moines for fun with magic marble painting.

Memory Books   Create your own memory book with HCI Care Services and decorate it with favorite memories. Then, take your memory book home with you to continue to add to with more and more memories!

Gyotaku   Iowa Environmental Council invites you to participate in the ancient Japanese art of Gyotaku-style fish printing, of a native Iowa fish.

Bead Jewelry   ‘Bead a Bracelet’ to help end youth homelessness in Iowa.  Show your support of Iowa Homeless Youth Centers and learn how you can help make a difference in a life of a youth. 

Lexigram Bookmark   Create Lexigram book markers with Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary. Lexigrams are the symbols that the apes use to communicate to humans on their keyboards.

Farm Animal Art   Color a picture of a farm animal and have it made into a button to wear with Living History Farms.

Blow-Ink   Guests will receive a straw and a paper plate which will have 2 drops of food coloring on it.  They will blow air through the straw and watch the food coloring magically create unique forms of art.

Get Your Dance On!   Festival–goers of all ages will have the opportunity to watch and learn Latin dances that include: Salsa, merengue, cha cha, bachata, and more with Salsa Des Moines.

Coffee Filter Butterfly   Create a beautiful monarch butterfly out of coffee filters.

Toy Decorating   Woodturners will use a lathe--machine used to work and shape wood--to demonstrate the turning of spinning tops and other assorted, small wooden objects from recycled wood products. 

Shaving Cream Art   Guests will enjoy engaging in musical activities with shakers, guitars and harps with professional VSA Iowa teaching artists. Shaving cream art will also be available! Guests will use food coloring to create a beautiful tie-dye effect on cardstock.

Mosaic   Create a colorful mosaic using tissue paper and light glue.

Create Your Own Sunshine!   Decorate a sun using paper plates, beads and pipe cleaners to take home and hang in your window as a reminder of the fun you had at the Des Moines Arts Festival.

Celery & Lettuce Stamps   Explore original artwork from the beautiful World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. Children can use fruits and vegetables to create stamp designs with paint, and can color and decorate black and white versions of agricultural artwork. 


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