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Des Moines art community gives back to celebrate protests

Local artist Billy Weathers organized a local art and musician show to celebrate the big turnouts for protests, and the change that's come so far.

The past few weeks the streets of Des Moines filled with protesters demanding change and chanting "Black Lives Matter," and now artists in the Black community have come together to say thanks.

Des Moines native Billy Weathers, also known by his stage name B.Well was taken aback by how the city responding in the wake of George Floyd's death.

"I feel like tensions are really high in the city," he said. "Tensions at high all over the country as important as obviously the the critical social, economical, you know whatever issues that you want to say that the country is facing right now, we also have to celebrate the fact that we are making progress. We are winning, we are building as a community."

Weathers said that he'd never seen any protest before as big as this in the city of Des Moines.

"I don't know I'm still kind of at a loss for words. It's still pretty fresh in my brain, considering for the fact it's only been like three weeks," he said. "So, I don't know, I'm inspired I'm very inspired to just be in this city and I've always had a lot of respect for here and now it's just escalated to a whole new level."

As a local musician and artist, Weathers started planning this art showcase two weeks ago to thank the Des Moines community for show up to protests.

"I don't want to step outside of my role too much in regards to people that have made activism a full time," Weathers said. "You know I'm an artists full time so this is what I do. This is how I know how to -- I don't know -- Turn it up."

This two level art showcase event allowed musicians and physical print artists to bring out their work for display. As Iowa is entering it's second month of lowered COVID-19 restrictions, for some people this was the first time in a while they've been able to display their work.

Artists like Shirah Burton were excited to get more opportunities to showcase talent within the Black community.

"I recently did a show about two week ago. And it was great, it was an outdoors one -- It' was actually Junteenth," Burton said. "It was lovely, and then so it feels really good to just come out here again and just get that same support, especially for artists like -- stuff like this -- and I'm not trying to speak for everybody but it really feels good, you know, to have people come out and support you especially your people, you know."

When it comes to supporting local communities, Weathers said that has always been his goal with his art.

"I want to give back. I said 'If I ever gain a platform doing music or doing art in any realm I was going to not only make my life better but make everybody in my circle and everybody my community's better," he said. "So, hopefully that's what we can continue to do."

That's why Weathers and some of his friends in the local art community got together to create the B.Well Foundation. Their current goal is to raise $50,000 for the Des Moines Public School system.

"Faculty teachers, students, parents, anybody that's either struggling to get a bill paid or needs help in some kind of endeavor can reach out to us and not even if we deem it necessary but if we have the amount of funds to help, then that's that's essentially what we want to help with," Weathers said.

Tying this art showcase to the recent protests in the city is something that Burton hopes encourages more people to go out and protest.

"I wish more people if you're concerned about the protests and stuff that goes on, come out to events like this and we can show you what we're about," she said. "It's nothing but love here, like everyone's enjoying themselves and having a good time."

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