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Rooftop Art: Renowned Artist Jordan Weber’s New Installation at Mainframe Studios

Inhale...Exhale... Installation

April 8, 2024

Header image: Ryan Damman Photography

To help elevate the Mainframe Studios building and make it an unmistakable arts presence in Downtown Des Moines (DSM), “Inhale...Exhale...” is set to be installed on the rooftop. This addition, a new installation from artist Jordan Weber, completes the exterior efforts on the building that began back during the pandemic and includes the outside mural created by local artist Molly Spain. The “Inhale...Exhale...” installation will light up and light down, like the inhale and exhale of breath, and be visible in the evenings from sunset through sunrise Thanks to the reflective aluminum used for the installation, it will look different based on the weather and time of day. Those interested in viewing it will want to visit and experience “Inhale...Exhale...” vantage points throughout the year.

“Inhale...Exhale...” in the Greater Des Moines Community

Jordan found a way to have meditation be at the core of his personal being and art practice. He acknowledges that you can always react with anger to the world around you and to the challenges and barriers that exist. Or, you can find a way to respond and use that meditative breath ... inhale...exhale...

Mainframe Studios sits on land in the middle of Center Street. In the late '60s and ‘70s, this area, filled with thriving Black businesses and culture was demolished to make way for the hospital and for what was then a mainframe building for computers. Even the location of the public art installation is another way for us to look at the community in a different way, recognize injustice and have this be a form of amends and acknowledgement of where we sit. There’s a center of healing in all of this. Art is about healing and expression, and Jordan has eloquently integrated them in this special project.

Mainframe Studios Partners with Local Students on Project

Thanks to the Oakridge Teen Tech Center, , located in Mainframe Studios, the “Inhale...Exhale...” installation will be captured by students ages 13 – 21 and shared on social media. This partnership will allow the talented students, along with their mentor, Oak Studio Teen Tech Center Coordinator Derek Frank, to showcase what they can do as far as video editing, sound mixing and storytelling and with the help of new drones and camera technologies.

The Oakridge Teen Tech Center’s mission is to mentor youth and provide students with skills and training to move into creative jobs in the future, and they are really the perfect fit for this partnership. Their mission intersects with Mainframe Studios’ mission to provide affordable, creative workspaces with equitable opportunities in the arts, it is a win for both organizations. Oakridge was able to secure space at Mainframe Studios, thanks to a $300,000 grant from Best Buy to build out the space and provide equipment and technology to support these students and emerging artists. Relying on neighbors and in-house talent makes our community stronger.

Photo Credit: Ryan Damman Photography

Help ‘Inhale...Exhale...’ Cross the Fundraising Finish Line

As we come up to the final month of fundraising before the installation, learn more about how to contribute to the project here. The total project has received significant funding through Bravo Greater Des Moines, Operation Downtown and individual donors. All contributors will be publicly recognized on Friday, Aug. 2, 2024, as part of the ‘Inhale...Exhale’s...’ unveiling and dedication with Jordan.

How to View the New Installation in Downtown Des Moines

You won’t be able to view the installation while at Mainframe Studios, but if you go to a northwest vantage point, like the Oakridge Neighborhood or even UnityPoint Health – Iowa Methodist Medical Center, you should be able to view both the Inhale and Exhale lighting. Some vantage points will only be able to see Inhale, some only Exhale. You might even be able to catch a glimpse of the installation from I-235.

About Jordan Weber’s Other Work in Greater Des Moines

Jordan previously created the African American Leadership Forum Murals in 2014 as part of a community project at Oakridge Neighborhood. He has held solo and group exhibitions at the Des Moines Art Center, Fluxx Gallery and Moberg Gallery and created public and street art installations at various Des Moines locations. Weber’s first piece in Downtown DSM is an older mural located near the Claes Oldenburg ‘Crusoe Umbrella’ in Cowels Commons that was completed 10+ years ago, but the Mainframe Studios “Inhale...Exhale...” installation will be his first prominent sculptural piece. More information on his art can be found at dsmpublicartfoundation.org.

Jordan is also involved in the upcoming Water Curia installation that will be near Water Works Park in Downtown DSM. That display will be installed in the fall of 2024, and you can learn more about it here.

To read about the career of this Guggenheim award winner who has also completed a Pulitzer Arts Foundation fellowship, read last month’s in-depth article on Weber in dsmmagazine.com.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options. Find event information and follow @downtownDSMUSA on Facebook and Instagram for other news, tips and events happening downtown.

Recently ranked a top 10 metro for number of economic development projects among metros with a population of 200,000 to 1 million, growth continues in and around Downtown Des Moines (DSM) in part thanks to unique public-private partnerships that allow community leaders to work together to invest in, grow and improve the city center. Learn more about other recent development projects in Downtown DSM.

Julia Franklin

Julia Franklin is the Executive Director of Mainframe Studios in Downtown Des Moines. She is an accomplished artist, leader, professor and founder of multiple community arts programs and has more than two decades of experience around creative sector advocacy, nonprofit management and community, program and funding development.