EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story is by Marie Schau, South King Media’s Intern from Big Picture High School:
By Marie Schau
Intern, Big Picture School
The 400-seat Des Moines Theater was first opened in 1947 by Delbert and Wally Osterhoudt. Wally also served as the city mayor in Des Moines from 1964 to 1969. In addition to being a theater, it also had some stores and office spaces. Over the years, the theater had multiple owners and was later closed entirely. In 1973 it was sold and instead of showing family-friendly movies it started to show “adult” movies. Local groups started to protest in the ’70s, and in 1980 the city took legal action. In the 90s it reopened with new management and began to show family-friendly films and once again became a community asset. It had 1940s decor, a snack bar, a stage, and older movies at affordable prices.
The Des Moines Theater is getting a huge renovation. As more and more businesses move or relocate to Des Moines, the city plans to make the theater the centerpiece of downtown.
The Des Moines Theater got a height variance from the city council which sill make it the tallest building in Des Moines. They are also working with Puget Sound Energy for underground power, which will make views more open for the apartments that will be built on the top floor.
While this renovation is going on, you may have noticed that there is some artwork on the Des Moines Theater. The artist who painted it is Desmond Hansen. Desmond has been painting professionally for 6 years and painting as a hobby for much longer. He became involved in the project when the Des Moines Legacy Foundation asked him to paint portraits in the windows on the top floor of the theater.
The process that Desmond used was painting them one at a time at his studio and then installing them at the theater. Some tools that he uses are a pencil, aerosol cans, and acrylic paint. Through his art, Desmond hopes to keep people’s memories alive. Since some artists that he draws are deceased he wants them to be remembered. His favorite artists to draw were Jimi Hendrix and for the Des Moines Theater, it was David Lynch. You can see other different artworks that he did different memoirs in West Seattle on electric boxes.
Photos courtesy Des Moines Legacy Foundation