Press

Steven Vail at Lucca

Des Moines CITYVIEW, 30 September 2020

Steven Vail is an international art dealer whose Steven Vail Fine Arts gallery is in Des Moines. I asked him to lunch, and he chose Lucca, Steve Logsdon’s mostly Italian café in East Village. On our visit, the carryout business was considerably more active than the indoor dining.

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The Untimely and the most timely 
CITYVIEW, 1 July 2020

The art world has traditionally had an off-season, usually summer. Before air conditioning, patrons and artists aestivated in the mountains while urban arts venues shut down. The Des Moines Metro Opera capitalized on this by luring talent to Indianola in a season when singers were unemployed by the major companies of the world.

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ArtWeek Interview Steven
Artweek, 11 June 2020

Click Here to Watch



Local Art Scene
CITYVIEW, 5 June 2019

Local art scene is continually improving 

The award-winning architects of Spiller and IDEAA along with Christensen Development are putting the finishing touches on the new Steven Vail Fine Artsspace on the ground level of the Fitch Building, across the street from Exile brewery and restaurant. The previous second-floor public gallery space in Historic Teachout Building opened well over a decade ago as a collaborative effort between Vail and legendary architect and arts patron Kirk Von Blunck.


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The Show Must Go On 
Des Moines Register, 4 October 2019

Steven Vail Fine Arts to celebrate new location with exhibition 

Vail has been in the art industry since the 1990s. He initially attended Drake University as a finance major.

"When I was younger, I bought a few pieces of art, and when I was in my early 20s, I sold a few pieces," Vail said. 

He then began to spend more time in New York City around artists, poets and musicians. When Vail made his return to Iowa, he asked his friend Davis Sanders to build him a gallery, and his art career began. 


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Cosmopolitan Elegance
CITYVIEW, 3 October 2018

Vail comes down to earth

Steven Vail Fine Arts moves this month. For decades, Vail has had galleries high above the streets, in skyscrapers (insurance companies like that), and in the Teachout Building. Vail does not really need walk-in traffic.

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Steven Vail Interviews Artist
Judith Shea
 19 April 2018

Is there a natural crossover between fashion and art in the creative process?

I only worked in the fashion business for a year, 1969-1970. I lost interest in it. That was the moment of great unrest and change in American society-civil rights, women's 'liberation', Vietnam, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King, Earth Day, and Nixon. In my fervent twenty-one-year-old world view, fashion didn't seem worth giving my life to. The crucial thing I brought from my great design education though, was the knowledge of how to build a figure-using cloth. This technology was vital to my early work, and remains so.


      
American Mirth
ART PIMP, CITYVIEW, 10 AUGUST  2016

Things are looking a bit more like business as usual again at Steven Vail Fine Arts. The second-floor gallery in the Teachout Building was inaccessible for weeks because of crime scene barricades. Architect and building owner Kirk Blunck was found dead in front of Vail’s doorway, and it became a kind of memorial.

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Ultimate Tag Sale
The Des Moines Register, 8 November 2015

Attention, shoppers: You don’t have to wait for Black Friday. An Iowa millionaire is selling off his lifetime collection of art and artifacts at a tag sale this weekend in Urbandale.

A pair of life-sized wooden tigers. An orange-feathered headdress. 

A case of 18th century surgical tools from India.

​They’re all up for grabs and priced to move.


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The Year of the Really Big Show 
ART PIMP, CITYVIEW, 18 December 2013

This year has treated Des Moines’ art fans to grand-scale exhibitions. At the Des Moines Art Center, “Transparencies” gathered 10 artists from five countries whose works explored glass as both a subject matter and medium; “Phyllida Barlow: Scree” delivered 27 monumental tons of magic stuff; and “Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui” displayed the dazzling, giant metal walls of a legendary nomadic artist. Grinnell’s Faulconer Gallery presented Iowa artists Scott Robert Hudson and Margaret Whiting together, with Hudson’s horse skeleton sculptures conjuring Native American ghost dances that complemented Whiting’s “Deforestation,” a forest of tree stumps constructed out of the pages of law books.

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Glories of the Prairie and Fall
ART PIMP, CITYVIEW, 16 October 2013

September was packed with the pop art of capitalism, an Anderson Gallery exhibition of vinyl record album covers and a Faulconer show featuring the art of supermarket aisles. October seems to be reverting to more elemental subjects. The Ankeny Art Center’s “Wonders of the Tallgrass Prairie,” featuring works of Gary Tonhouse, pays tribute to a vanishing natural phenomenon that overwhelmed early settlers in Iowa. More than 150 years ago, 20 million acres of tall grass prairie in the state were reduced to 200,000 acres. The photographer has been working 28 years to capture, in dramatic perspective, the majesty of the great grasses that both terrified and awed the first Europeans in Iowa. “Building a bridge between nature and people is my goal; creating images to help make that connection is my passion,” he explained.


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Gallery Brightens IC


The Daily Iowan, 27 September 2013

Similar to many, the 1980s proved to be a trying period in Steven Vail’s life. But in line with a national farm crisis that placed particular challenges on a number of Midwestern states, Vail tried to buck the trend, opting to open a collection of art in a renovated Des Moines warehouse. 

But like several other artists of the time period, he said, he was showing works ahead of the time for Iowa’s capital. 

More than 30 years and a new title later, Vail is back at it again, this time with a new place for artistic appreciation: downtown Iowa City. 



20 Years of Fortitude
CITYVIEW, 19 JUNE 2013

This year marks Steven Vail’s 20th anniversary in the gallery business. His exhibitions here, of internationally renowned artists, have usually received more media coverage from New York, Germany and even Hong Kong than they have in Des Moines. How did he manage to survive?

​“Luther Utterback (Des Moines artist) took me to New York City when I was 23. The first friend he introduced me to was Jan Frank. We hit it off really well, and I would end up moving into a part of his loft on Bond Street,” Vail began.This year marks Steven Vail’s 20th anniversary in the gallery business. His exhibitions here, of internationally renowned artists, have usually received more media coverage from New York, Germany and even Hong Kong than they have in Des Moines. How did he manage to survive?


In the Art Studio: Steven Vail Video
KCCI, 24, June 2013

Click Here to Watch

Vicious Circles to Open in East Village Gallery 
Des Moines Register,  19 MAY 2013

An upcoming art show doesn’t reinvent the wheel — not exactly — but it does roll a few out for a fresh look.

The artwork in “Vicious Circles” opens May 23 at the Steven Vail Fine Arts Project Room in Des Moines’ East Village neighborhood and focuses on the ordinary circle, a shape kids recognize even before they know its name.

​So it’s a simple theme, with endless variations.

​“This show is kind of different because there is no history, no pretext,” curator Breianna Cochran said. “It’s just about seeing. We just appreciate the works for what they are.”


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Between Heaven and Earth
CITYVIEW, 21 February 2013

Painter Madai Taylor is a complex holy man who preaches to his congregation literally from the Bible but paints religious abstractions. He admits these contradictory postures can be misinterpreted as a conflict.

​“I do wonder how people embrace the duality of my being a non-subjective artist and a preacher. I even question it myself sometimes. Do the two things complement or combat each other? Outsiders can be confused by the abstract works and religious people sometimes are unable to embrace abstraction at all,” he explained.

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The Year of Exalted Memories
CITYVIEW, 19 December 2012

The Des Moines Art Center’s (DMAC) exhibition year began with three brilliant films by Argentine Miguel Angel Rios and concluded with three more by Bavarian Thomas Demand. Both artists went to painstaking ends to preserve incidents that most people might quickly dismiss from memory. Angel Rios wistfully revisited his native Calchaqui Valley to film the boleadores he wielded as a child, filmed a dangerous game played in the slums of Columbia and recreated a peyote trip he took in Mexico. Demand spent three and a half months, with a staff of 14 animators, recreating paper models of a cruise ship dining room rocking in high seas, filmed a model of a surveillance camera in a Brazilian airport and simulated rain by shooting candy wrappers through layers of glass.

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Exposition Henry Moore, Steven Vail Fine Arts
Art Beacon, 14 May 2012

Review by Alissa

Des Moines is fortunate:  There is nothing unusual about an art exhibition opening on a Friday night in the East Village.  Every week, talented artists present their latest work in the many galleries scattered across our fair city.  However, when a one of those Friday night openings features the work of an iconic, world-renowned sculptor, it is exceptional indeed.  Last Friday’s opening reception for “Exposition Henry Moore” at Steven Vail Fine Arts was that type of pleasant surprise.

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Edward Kelley | The Flying Buttress is my Friend, Fluxx Gallery
Art Beacon, 12 May 2012

Review by Rachel

Without the flying buttress support system, Gothic pointed arches wouldn’t have stood as high or as long as they have. They needed help or a crutch to get to the epic heights gothic architects were aiming to achieve. This month at Fluxx, Drake Sculpture Tech and 3D Design Faculty member, Edward Kelley, takes on the Gothic arch himself in his show “The Flying Buttress is my Friend”. 




DSM Magazine– New Exhibit 
DSM Magazine, 08 November 2012

A new exhibit at Steven Vail Fine Arts–Project Room features prints and works on paper by 15 contemporary artists who have used photography in creating their works. The American and international artists represented in the exhibit, called “Sourced,” have used photography as a template for their imagery or have incorporated photos and photographic source material in their pieces.

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Henry Moore Exposition 
DSM Magazine

How big of a deal is a new Henry Moore exhibit at Seven Vail Fine Arts-Project Room? It’s the first time a non-institutional venue is hosting a show solely dedicated to the British artist’s prints. Moore (1898-1986) is acknowledged as one of the 20thcentury’s greatest sculptors.

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Photography Through an Altered Lens
ART BEACON, 15 November 2012

Many surprises awaited my first visit to Steven Vail Fine Arts and the gallery’s latest exhibit, Sourced: the world-class artists and their contemporary photographic works displayed in a Des Moines’ East Village gallery and the attendance of local artists, Jeremiah Elbel and Phillip Chen, professor of drawing and printmaking at Drake University.


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Cameras and Conceptualism
CITYVIEW, 15 November 2012

At Steven Vail Fine Arts, prints by local artists Jeremiah Elbel and Phillip Chen join those of 13 internationally famous artists in the exhibition “Sourced.”

​“Jeremiah and Phillip not only hold their own in this company, in many ways they are technically more ambitious,” said curator Breianna Cochran.

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Exhibition of Works by Henry Moore Opens at Steven Vail Fine Arts
ARTDAILY, 11 May 2012

Henry Moore (British 1898 – 1986) is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century and from the late 1940s has been recognized as the most celebrated artist of his time.

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August is the New October for Color
CITYVIEW, 18-24 August 2011

Three new exhibitions in Des Moines examine color from different points of view.  

Less (color) is more in Steven Vail Fine Arts 

current exhibition “Selective Color in Printmaking.” Curator Breianna Cochran talked about the show’s forefather. 

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Coming this Week- Serious Summer Fun
CITYVIEW 21-27 July 2011

Three new exhibitions in Des Moines examine color from different points of view.  Less (color) is more in Steven Vail Fine Arts current exhibition “Selective Color in Printmaking.” Curator Breianna Cochran talked about the show’s forefather. ​



Biz Buzz
Des Moines Register, 6 July 2011

A new show at Steven Vail’s East Village gallery ti­tled “Se­lective Col­or in Print­making” re­m­inds Elbert of Buzz of the response that his very young daugh­ter once offered at a school car­nival when a man hand­ing out balloons asked her fa­vorite col­or.


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Photos Pop off Walls in Exhibit
Des Moines Register, 06 JULY 2011

Head to the East Village to Experience 3-D Images

Save your 3-D glasses from the movie theater. You can slip them on again for an art show in the East Village. The Des Moines artist Fred Truck photographed everyday stuff-cars, flowers, bonsai trees- and then tinkered with the tools of digital photography to create overlapping colored images; called anaglyphs, that come together only with the aid of red-and blue tinted glasses (available at the gallery).


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Des Moines Metamorphoses
CITYVIEW, 15-21 July 2010

Blunck takes pride in the changes [to the East Village].  His revocations of historic East Village buildings have done more than anything else to attract visitors to formerly repulsive parts of downtown.  Watching people file into Lucca, Kitchen Collage, Miyabi 9 and a dozen other bustling businesses in his buildings, Blunck declares a milestone.



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Merging Music, Prints: Vital's Print Interpretations of Classical Music will Open for Exhibition Tonight 
The Des Moines Register, 25 July  2010

Here’s another one for the “Wish I’d Thought of That” file.  The prominent Swiss artist Not Vital (a common Swiss-Romansh name, pronounced Note vee-Tal) cranked up a CD of classical music, dipped the tip of a conductor’s baton in silver ink and proceeded to “conduct” the music over a lithograph stone.  The inky tip left an abstract scribble on the stone’s polished surface, onto which the artist then pressed a sheet of paper.  He repeated the process with several different musical works and eventually sold the resulting print series of thousands of dollars.

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"Prints" Offers Peek into Artists' Minds
The Des Moines Register, 14 April 2010

The art dealer Steven Vail has been selling prints by Jaume Plensa for about five years, but it wasn’t until the Spanish artist’s 27-foot-tall “Nomade” figure took a seat in the middle of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park that his artwork caught on with buyers here in Des Moines. “There’s a definite credibility factor,” Vail said. “Now people come in trying to educate me.”





Steven Vail Fine Arts to Open Gallery Space in Des Moines in February 
ARTDAILY, 13 January  2009

Steven Vail Fine Arts, is pleased to announce the opening of their Des Moines location scheduled for February 2009.

The space, located in the historic Teachout Building on East Locust in Des Moines, was restored and is owned by international award-winning Iowa architect Kirk Von Blunck, FAIA. The 1500 square foot gallery will consist of one single salon. Throughout the year, the gallery will be open to the public and will offer prints and works on paper by European and American contemporary artists as well as continuing its tradition of representing works by world-renowned 19th, 20th and 21st-century artists including Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol.


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