Voices On Grand Logo

NEXT MEETING: Saturday, August 13th


NEXT MEETING: Saturday, August 13th

While Arts on Grand is known for its visual arts, programs, and gallery shop, an element missing in northwest Iowa is a location for self-expression through written or oral communication. Just as ceramics, photography and paintings are healthy vehicles for expressing emotion; so, also, is written and oral communication for many individuals. 

The theme for Voices On Grand on August 13 will be “Roles and Relationships.” Brian Hamilton is on board to moderate this session. Participants will be sharing “their stories” through storytelling, memoir writings, poetry and original music compositions. Depending on interest, this component will be repeated monthly as an ongoing program.

Meet our authors below!


Kevin Tlam | Storyteller

Kevin has been on the radio for over 29 years, 25 of those years have been in Spencer where he serves as Operations Manager for the Spencer Radio Group and Morning Show Co-host on MORE 104.9.

He stays busy emceeing various events and fundraisers throughout the year. Kevin is a member of Spencer Kiwanis After 5 and is a board member for the Clay County Fair Association. 

Kevin is also an Adjunct Instructor for the Ditgital, Social, & Broadcast Media Program, teaching Radio Production at Iowa Lakes Community College.

When Kevin is not working, he enjoys spending time with his nephews Jayden, Chase, and Tate; attending concerts and he is a big dirt track racing fan!

Blake Carlson | Storyteller

Blake Carlson is a community engagement professional based in Des Moines, IA working at the intersection of inclusion and the arts. Before joining the year-round staff at Des Moines Metro Opera in December 2021, Blake spent two years leading communications and events in corporate diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Blake received his B.A. in Public Relations and Arts Administration from Simpson College and is currently working on his MBA specializing in Nonprofit Management at Drake University. Inspired by human connection, he was recently a featured storyteller for the Des Moines Storytellers Project. 

He will be reading a story titled "Growing Up".

Diana Koppen | Memoir Excerpts

Diana Koppen followed her mother’s and aunt’s paths to become a schoolteacher and was an educator of elementary and middle school students  for over 37 years. Being inspired by the young writers in her classroom, Diana aspired to assist her sister Pam in writing and publishing their aunt’s story. Diana lives in Spencer, Iowa, with her husband Wayne.

Diana and her sister compiled their first book,Breaking Free From Rigid Boxes: From the Outside Looking In, based on their aunt Marion Helland’s personal photographs, journals, newspaper clippings, official documents, and artifacts she left them at her death. With the assistance of Marion’s community of colleagues, relatives, friends, and past students, Marion’s nieces transcribed her memoir in a loving tribute to the woman who inspired all those around her as she led a life of nine decades of human/civil rights service.

Marion Helland’s memoir may be purchased at Arts on Grand, as well as the Clay County Heritage Center, with proceeds going to each of these places. One can also purchase the book on Amazon here or in our gallery shop.

Nancy Schoenewe | Memoir Excerpts

Nancy Parliman Schoenewe is a retired English Professor, and  she taught writing, literature, and communications at Iowa Lakes Community College for many years.  As the unofficial family historian, Nancy interviewed her maternal grandmother about her adventures  growing up on a homestead in Western South Dakota, and she encouraged her father to write about his experiences in the European theater during WWII.  Nancy is interested in many areas of the arts, including writing, painting, gardening, and jewelry making.  She and her husband Lee are members of the Artisans Road Trip and will display and sell their work at Arts on Grand in early October. They are avid birders. 

Nancy will be reading an excerpt from:
The Battle of the Bulge:  An Infantry Soldier's Memoirs of WWII  by Edwin C. Parliman

Dakota Caldwell | Memoir Excerpts

Dakota Caldwell is a 2020 graduate of Storm Lake High School. Dakota’s start in media was with the Storm Lake radio KAYL where he was an intern. 

Skills learned there evolved into Dakota creating a podcast, The Dakota Show, where he interviews small business, large business and people with inspirational stories. His goal is to help spread happiness, hope and to promote others. 

Currently, Dakota is working part time at Hy-Vee and hopes to eventually publish a book that brings light to everyone’s life with his motto “Help Me Help You!”

Lynn Dotson | Memoir Excerpts

Lynn grew up in Hartley in the '50s and '60s. As a member of the AOG memoir class, she writes about her childhood for her 4 grandkids. 

Lynn, and her husband Nyle have owned Center Cleaners in Spencer for 45 years. 

Lynn will be reading:
A Story: Favorite Time of the Year
Brief Explanation: What a snow day was like in Hartley during the 1950s.

Deb Mechler | Poetry Reader

Deb Mechler is a Lutheran pastor enjoying retirement, exploring new expressions of creativity and enjoying more time with her grandchildren. 

Deb will read a few of her poems, describing how each one seems to select its own form, from free verse to sonnet.  You can find a sampling of them as well as essays at https://saintsinnerseeker.net/.

Joanne Schar | Poetry Reader

Joanne Dyhrkopp Schar was born and raised in Spencer, Iowa  and graduated from the University of Iowa.  After her marriage to H Schar she traveled  for work with him to Zaire, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Madagascar and Kenya with times spent in Spencer in  between.   Joanne is now retired and lives with H in his parental home in Spencer.   She has two children William and Sarah, who live in Bloomington and Chicago with their families. 

Patrick (Pat) Main | Poetry Reader

Pat is a grandpa enjoying retirement. He has lived in Spencer for the last 15 years and is looking forward to sharing some poetry, short stories, ideas, and experiences with his writings.

Pat will be reading:
A Short Children's Story: "Ten Dollars & Wash Day"