DMAF: The Human Experience, a New Festival Salon and The Gathering Table

Why create? We are human.

Chaden Halfhill talks art and design at Mars Cafe DMAFcurated event for Des Moines Arts Festival

Chaden Halfhill, founder of Silent Rivers, talks about the importance of art and design in making the world a better place.

In the early nineties, I returned home to Iowa after eight years away at school. I was twenty-two years old and quickly discovered that a fine arts degree didn’t account for much in a corporate job search and my lack of experience was cause for concern within small businesses like graphic design studios and architecture firms. Few businesses hired on aptitude.

Adding to the angst, my length of time away required that I reestablish a network of friends as most of my childhood friends had moved on. It was a strange awkward time, and without the roots of community, I found the process latent with intense uncertainty; I relied heavily on ingenuity to scrape together a living, while pursuing a career as a young artist.

I soon realized that the creative drive that fuels artists also inspires the seeds of entrepreneurship and the cross pollination of ideas. Creative innovation is the impetus of progress, and our need to express ourselves sparks from a blend of personal identity and the desire to make the world a better place, improving our circumstances and those around us.

In retrospect, this realization has long guided my life and daily decisions at home and in business. My determination to leave the world a better place is a deeply held conviction; it is part of my ethos, my life’s purpose. This conviction is why I founded a company dedicated to improving homes and inspiring people’s well-being. This conviction is why I champion access to the arts and encourage creative exploration and understanding. This conviction is why I redevelop projects that help inspire a stronger relationship between our buildings and the ecology in which we live. This conviction is why I exist: to generate a resilient and beautiful future, one in which my children and their offspring can thrive. We are all artists shaping a collective destiny; together we co-create a future through intention and every shared action.


G. David Hurd Innovator in the Arts award

Trudy Holman Hurd, the late G. David Hurd’s wife, and Chaden after he was awarded the G. David Hurd Innovator of the Arts award.

Trudy Holman Hurd, the late G. David Hurd’s wife, and Chaden after he was awarded the G. David Hurd Innovator of the Arts award.

I do walk into uncertainty to facilitate change and to encourage new ideas. I prefer to define a market rather than following it. Revealing my motivation for this feels vulnerable. And it’s often misunderstood. But it’s not often that one has reason to celebrate a life as an innovator, except in the abstract notion of that’s what you do.

This past May I received the G. David Hurd Innovator in the Arts award presented by the Des Moines Arts Festival. I was in awe, sheer delight, to discover that I had been selected to receive this honor. It reinforces my exuberance and dedication for making Central Iowa a better place, and I am sincerely grateful for the recognition. I could not think of a better person to be compared with than Dave Hurd, as his gentle, inspiring and fore thinking leadership has encouraged me since my youth when I was running around the corner of 38th and Cottage Grove. Dave has been a steady presence in my life, quietly encouraging my work, not as a businessperson but as a childhood neighbor, a friend and one of the few stable men in my life as I grew into adulthood.

I feel blessed – many, many to festival organizers, and Trudy Hurd and her family! Innovation is truly a team effort, and ideas go nowhere without the support and dedication of others sharing in the vision. I have been blessed to have worked with so many incredible collaborators throughout my career as an artist, remodeler and developer. Without their belief and commitment to excellence, my drive would have long waned and the potential of our work together would have been unrealized.



The New Festival Salon and #DMAFcurated: Recalling Place

As hosts for the Des Moines Arts Festival’s VIP (Very Important Patron) Club and Hospitality Suites, Silent Rivers Design+Build aspires to expand the relevance and integration of art within Central Iowa and encourage expansion of creative lifestyles in this region. From this motivation spawned our addition of the Festival Salon to this year’s VIP Club, launching #DMAFcurated, a thematic exhibition of selected artists from the Festival.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Chaden at DMAFcurated "Recalling Place" exhibit in its original location at Mars Cafe featuring 10 Festival artists; Henri's "Us vs. Everybody"; Terauds' Strelitzia, Leben's Parade; Menaker's Lake and Wells; CENTER: Frey's "Around Again"

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Chaden at #DMAFcurated “Recalling Place” exhibit in its original location at Mars Cafe featuring 10 Festival artists; Henri’s “Us vs. Everybody”; Terauds’ Strelitzia, Leben’s Parade; Menaker’s Lake and Wells; CENTER: Frey’s “Around Again”

The inaugural group exhibition for #DMAFcurated was titled Recalling Place, and includes a group of ten Festival artists (listed below), creators that explore a sense of place in their work, and through doing so truly integrate distinct perspectives from around the world. Whether delving into individual or cultural memory, or accentuating a physical context for personal or community narratives, these artists reflect our collective relationship within the built space – the fabric of our homes, neighborhoods, towns and cities.



The Gathering Table

gathering table of rustic maple beams designed by Silent Rivers woodshop will host conversation at Des Moines Arts Festival VIP Club

Custom built in the Silent Rivers wood shop, this harvest table will host collaborative discussions at the Des Moines Arts Festival VIP Club events.

Alex Schlepphorst and Tom Bloxham in the Silent Rivers woodshop built the custom table from maple beams.

Alex Schlepphorst and Tom Bloxham in the Silent Rivers woodshop built the custom table from maple beams.

In order to encourage the sharing of ideas, we introduce The Gathering Table as part of the new VIP Club Festival Salon. This table is built from rustic maple beams and much like a harvest table that brings together family for dinners and conversation, we intend The Gathering Table to encourage collaboration and the convergence of varied talents and perspectives.

Silent Rivers’ confluence of the talents of designers, artisans, managers and clients was originally envisioned as a working art studio where ideas interact. This table is an extension of this idea, and we hope you will join us this year at the VIP Club of the Des Moines Arts Festival around the Gathering Table to discuss ideas about curating art. This year Lenore Metrick will speak about meaning and metaphor, Mars Café will host two presentations about the art of coffee and coffee bars, and of course, I will facilitate a conversation about Recalling Place, the intention behind curating art, and the importance or relevance of connecting meaning to family, home and community.



Get the Silent Rivers Discount and Become a VIP Patron!

Silent Rivers VIP Club at Des Moines Arts Festival

Silent Rivers VIP Club at Des Moines Arts Festival is a perk of all Patron membership levels.

We added the Salon and Gathering Table to the VIP Club in order to elevate the experience of patrons of the Festival, fostering community and dialogue.

If you are not yet a VIP patron of the Des Moines Arts Festival, you can use the Silent Rivers Discount Code to become a VIP patron and join us in the VIP Club at this year’s Festival!

I sincerely look forward to seeing you there.


Artists featured at the 2017 Festival Salon

Benjamin Frey

Kristen Greteman

Clifton Henri

John Leben

Igor Menaker 

Larry Simon

Marina Terauds

Nha Vuu 

Timothy White

R. Michael Wommack 


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