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University of Iowa News Release


June 29, 2007

UI Press Portrait Book About The Iowa City Music Scene Is Introduced July 13

Photographer Sandy Dyas and writer Chris Offutt will introduce "Down to the River: Portraits of Iowa Musicians," a new release by the University of Iowa Press, at 7 p.m. Friday, July 13, in the Prairie Lights book store at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the University of Iowa Writing University Website:

The free event will be recorded for broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, originating on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on AM 910 WSUI in Iowa City, AM 640 WOI in Ames and AM 1010 KRNI in Cedar Falls. A program is also broadcast at 5 p.m. Sundays on 91.7 FM KSUI in Iowa City.

Dyas' photographs present both the sweaty intensity of live performances and the more contemplative moments of individual portraits. They are complemented with an introductory essay written by Offutt, a UI Writers' Workshop alumnus and faculty member.

Included with the "Down to the River" book is a CD featuring Greg Brown, Dave Moore, Bejae Fleming, Dave Zollo, Bo Ramsey, Pieta Brown, Kevin Gordon and many other Iowa musicians.

"Sandra Dyas' photos capture Iowa's middle landscape, the one where human habitation has made a place for itself between the mechanization of the prairie and the collapse of the family farm," wrote folk culture scholar Robert Cantwell, who earned his doctorate at the UI. "This is the Iowa that gets lived in and sung about.

"You might catch a glimpse of it at deep twilight, on some nameless county road, where you'll find a guitar picker or fiddler or steel player: a mere mote on a blanket of soybeans and corn. Like every farmer or elevator operator or grain dealer who's at home in the idea of moving on, Iowa's musicians put down roots where they are. You really can't miss the resemblance in these photos -- wanderers who came to make a life and like it or not succeeded at it."

Dyas received her Master of Fine Arts in intermedia and video art from the UI School of Art and Art History in 1998. She teaches photography at Cornell College and has a thriving freelance photography business. Her photographs have been published on and in numerous CDs, websites and magazines including No Depression, Vogue, Acoustic Guitar, and the New York Times.

Offutt is the author of "Kentucky Straight," "Out of the Woods," "The Good Brother," "The Same River Twice" and "No Heroes." His stories and essays have been published in Esquire, GQ, the New York Times, "Best American Short Stories" and "Best Stories of the South."

"Down to the River" is part of the Bur Oak series from the UI Press. Recognizing the richness of the Midwest's heritage, this series of original and reprinted books is named after the state tree of Iowa. These books represent the UI Press' dedication to preserving the literature, history, geography and culture of the region.

The Writing University Web site provides a handy portal to the UI writing programs -- including the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the International Writing Program, the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, the Translation Workshop, the UI Press and the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. The site also centralizes writing news, lists upcoming events and provides access to a wealth of writing materials -- texts, journals, lists of Iowa-connected writers and publications, historic videos and archived audio. Visitors to the site have the option of subscribing to an RSS feed.

The School of Art and Art History is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For additional information about the reading call Prairie Lights, 319-337-2681. For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073; cell: 310-430-1013;