WHO-TV 13 / Mainframe Studios Working to Make Des Moines a City Known for Art

Posted on Dec 31, 2018 in MAINFRAME News


DES MOINES, Iowa — 2019 will bring some changes to downtown Des Moines, and it could bring more artists to the area if a Des Moines developer has his way.

“I think that fundamentally art is what makes a city exciting,” said Justin Mandelbaum, a local real estate developer and the founder of Mainframe Studios. That’s why Mandelbaum is trying to make Des Moines a city known for its art.

“Des Moines has always branded itself for its quality of life,” said Mandelbaum. “And a major component of that is the arts and culture, and we have a very strong arts and culture community.”

But Mandelbaum says the missing link has been having a permanent affordable workspace for artists.

“What we found when we did our demand survey is that there are hundreds of artists in this community that are working out of their home or have no studio space,” said Mandelbaum. “No one knows about them. To me, that’s an untapped economic resource.”

Mandelbaum founded Mainframe Studios, which he says will serve as an economic driver for the community and make Des Moines a unique place that will attract the creative class and young professionals.

“Those are the folks that are coming up with creative concepts for restaurants or bars or coffee shops,” said Mandelbaum. “Those are the folks that are working in those places. Those are the folks that are dressing up the city to see unexpected occurrences when you turn a corner.”

The level of talent by the artists in the studios is amazing.

“Red Door Press is streamed in 27 different countries, part of a documentary that they`re a part of,” said Siobhan Spain, director of Mainframe Studios. “We have Josh Larson of Numinous Games [which] was featured on the Apple App Store. We have artists that work for Warner Bros., right here in Des Moines, in Mainframe studios. They worked on The Secret Life of Pets.”

Artists who are responsible for creating some of the most iconic and legendary album covers of all time, Margo Z. Nahas and Jay Vigon, including Prince`s “Purple Rain,” have a workspace at Mainframe Studios.

“Those artists that made all the album covers, they`re here as well,” said Spain. “So, they really spark inspiration for others. They`re mentors, and they`re always just ready to engage. They love it here. So, it’s a good testament that Des Moines is really vibrant, and you know, people should be paying attention to what we`re doing here.”