2010 International VSA Arts Festival

Local artist ‘Freight Train’ Frank Strong has been selected to perform at the 2010 International VSA arts festival on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at noon at the Smithsonian Discovery Theater in Washington, D.C.

VSA arts is an arts and disability organization that hosts an International Festival every four years.  This festival will take place in Washington, D.C.  The event is a multi cultural celebration of the arts and arts education.  The festival features visual, performing, literary and media artists, as well as a guest list that includes more than two thousand participants from all corners of the globe.  For a complete list of artists and performers see http://www.vsarts.org.

VSA arts is an international nonprofit organization found 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. VSA arts showcases the accomplishments of artists with disabilities and promotes increased access to the arts for all.  Each year, 7 million people participate in VSA arts’ programs through a nationwide network of affiliates and in 54 countries around the world.

Locally, Frank Strong’s artistic journey began when he was 18 years of age.  By then he had learned that his poor vision would not improve and could not be corrected.  He found, however, that performing music was an antidote to the uncertainty and fear he experienced because of his visual problems.

After many years of study and practice, and by overcoming disappointment and experiencing success, Frank gradually began performing publicly.  Frank eventually became a VSA artist. Frank has since become a rostered artist with other arts organizations, and travels throughout Iowa presenting musical residencies to students of all ages.  He has worked with local at-risk youth, and presents harmonica training at various arts days throughout the community. Frank also sings, plays guitar and harmonica while presenting residencies on railroad history through songs and stories, in addition to work as a blues harmonica player with local bands. More information about Frank can be found at rrsongs.com

Frank also produces arts events like the annual “Botanical Blues” series at the Des Moines Botanical Center. The Botanical Blues” series will begin its fourth year in 2010.