Jury Picks Artists for Des Moines Arts Festival

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DES MOINES, Iowa-- The Des Moines Arts Festival is still months away, but some of the most important work is happening behind the scenes this week.

Close to a thousand artists are competing for a spot on the streets of downtown Des Moines this June. Over the next few days, a jury of five people will decide who makes the cut. They will look at thousands of images as they narrow the field of 966 applicants to 179.

“It's not only selecting the best of the best, but also selecting the best and having a balanced show,” said Stephen King, Des Moines Arts Festival Executive Director.

“It's hard to choose from the best of the best,” said juror Susan Watts.

Watts is owner of Olson-Larsen Galleries in West Des Moines and has an idea of what's she's looking for.

“Something a little out of the ordinary, but something that would be appealing to a lot of people. You know, something that isn't so obscure that it would be hard for a lot of people to connect with it,” she explained.

The scoring and voting take place behind closed doors. King says the judging can get a little heated.

“Especially when you start getting down into the round 3, round 4, round 5. It can get dirty,” King joked.

The selected artists will be notified next week. The Des Moines Arts Festival is set for June 26-28, 2015.