The first Middle of NOWhere art festival will be held near Madrid


Siriaco Garcia has come a long way over the past 10 years. Now, he wants to help raise awareness for other artists through his unique events.

Garcia, known as Siricasso, had a difficult childhood and faced many challenges, including domestic violence. Yet his role models did their best to survive.

As an adult, he turned to painting as a way to express himself.

As his talent continues to blossom, so does success, with the Des Moines Register recently naming the muralist one of its “Ones to Watch” in 2024.

Now, this passion for art has led Silicaso to found the first “The Middle of NOWhere” rural arts and music festival in Madrid.

The celebration will be held on July 20 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at The Cellar Winery, 2183 320th St.

Siricasso’s eclectic events will showcase regional artists of all ages, based on different art styles. Local musicians will also perform throughout the day.

“The cellar is located in a beautiful place where people can enjoy art and listen to music while enjoying nature,” Siricaso said.

more: Siriaco Garcia overcame a rocky youth to become a rising star in central Iowa’s art scene

Art, music and food

Silicaso knows the importance of opportunity. He was the first in his family to graduate, taking the stage in 2014 as a student at Ames High School.

The Ames Tribune wrote an article about him that year, and he began painting soon after.

“Looking back over the past 10 years, we’ve seen growth,” Siricaso said. “It’s amazing to see that.”

He recently completed a Candy Land-inspired mural at Lollipop, a children’s barbershop in Des Moines, and a few days ago completed a mural at Hoover High School. Silicaso also painted a “Huxley” mural in a shopping plaza in his hometown.

The free event in Madrid on July 20 will feature art, music, food trucks, games and community arts events.

Live music will begin at 1 p.m. with Emmett Phillips as emcee.

“We’re bringing a diverse lineup, we’re bringing different artists,” Silicaso said. “I want to bring a mix and make sure everyone has a chance to be seen and heard.”

The Middle of NOWhere Country Arts and Music Festival is not the first event Siricasso has organized. He also hosted an event at Columbus Park in Des Moines during Art Week.

“I wanted to do something to activate the community, so I created a festival that was kid-friendly and also invited artists,” he said.

A major goal of the festival is to make it affordable for vendors, a philosophy that Siricasso continues with The Middle of NOWhere festival.

more: Here are the Des Moines Register’s people to watch in 2024

“I don’t want artists to feel pressure to sell their work to cover costs. I want them to be able to connect and engage with each other,” Siricaso said.

talented salesman

Siricasso hosts a number of small music and art events throughout the year, but he was looking for a venue that could host a large annual event.

That’s when John Barber, who co-owns The Cellar with his wife, Barb Hokel, reached out. Barber heard Siricaso being interviewed on a radio show and wanted to offer their vineyard as a venue.

“I’m really impressed with what he’s done,” Barber said.

The picturesque, peaceful scenery of Madrid’s countryside was exactly what Silicaso wanted.

“I wanted to do something outside the city that was unrestricted,” the artist said.

Ronna Faaborg covers business and arts for The Ames Tribune. Please contact her at rfaaborg@gannett.com.



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