Residency Program

Residency at Mainframe Studios

Established with funds from Brown’s estate and donations from family and friends, the Alex Brown Foundation & Residency Fund in partnership with Mainframe Studios is happy to announce our residents for 2023.


The aim of the residency is to provide emerging and established artists of exceptional merit with an experience of the working conditions that artist Alex Brown (1966-2019) found in Des Moines, IA—the ability to make the work you want to make, free from the daily influence of being immersed in a major metropolitan scene but without the isolation of a rural residency, in an exceptional studio environment and a relaxed and pleasant living environment. 

Residency Term

There are four 3-month residency terms in 2024: 

January 1 – March 28

April 1 – June 27

July 1 – September 26

October 1 – December 27

Choose a term to be in residence for no less than 8 weeks, or for as long as two consecutive terms (6-months.) 

Applications are accepted from artists working in any medium.

Alex Brown Foundation art studio

Amenities included

The residency is designed to provide the artist with an opportunity to focus entirely on their work for an extended period of time, in a comfortable work and living environment, and in a city consistently ranked in recent years as one of the best places to live in the U.S.—the city David Byrne called “beyond cool.” A residency at The Alex Brown Foundation is ideal for those looking to work in a spacious private studio with little distraction.


Dedicated use of a 1400 sq. ft. studio space at Mainframe Studios, a renovated 1970s telecommunications building in downtown Des Moines. 


A monthly stipend of of $1,000, plus airfare or reimbursement for other travel to and from Des Moines.

Stipends are adjusted according to the agreed residency duration.


The foundation provides a fully furnished one bedroom apartment situated in a quiet centrally located neighborhood, just a 3-minute drive and a 14-minute walk from the studio.

The studio

The 1400-square foot studio space at Mainframe Studios, a renovated 1970s telecommunications building in downtown Des Moines operated on a 501(c)(3) nonprofit basis, provides permanent affordable workspace to artists of all disciplines. Originally built out to Alex’s specifications, this spacious and quiet studio has great natural light from a northern exposure, in a secure facility occupied by local artists and designers.

Mainframe Studios has recently installed building-wide improvements including an Air Purification system that proactively attacks airborne contaminants and better humidity controls. Mainframe also houses its very own art store, The Blok, to aid our artists creative endeavors. 

Mainframe Studios, downtown Des Moines

Des Moines

For a city of its size and regionally rooted culture, Des Moines has a remarkably strong arts community. At the root is the Des Moines Art Center, a world class institution with a remarkable collection and diverse program housed in tremendous facilities with wings by Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, and Richard Meier. The main Art Center facility is complemented by other public art throughout the city, most notably the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden at the west end of downtown, and by a rich municipal architectural heritage. In recent years, the city has become an increasingly attractive permanent base for artists, with a wide array of outstanding and affordable studio space and housing.

2024 Residency Application Is Open

The Alex Brown Foundation is currently accepting applications for its 2024 artist residency program. Applications will be accepted from artists working in any medium. No application fee will be charged. We will be accepting applications until March 15, 2023 for residencies beginning January 1 of 2024. If you are interested in participating, complete the form below and compile your application materials into a single PDF, including:

2024 Residency Application Deadline: Tuesday, March 15, 2023 (11:59 CT)


Residency Terms

Choose a term to be in residence for no less than 8 weeks, or for as long as two consecutive terms (6 months.) Arrival and departure dates can be adjusted according to individual needs and the residency's resources. Applications are accepted from artists working in any medium.
If you are interested in sharing your work with the community through education, mentorship, lectures, and/or open studio events, please let us know.
To be eligible*, your single PDF must include (1) your Statement of purpose about your work and how you will use your residency in Des Moines (Not exceeding 700 words,) (2) a Portfolio of 12-20 images, including work title, medium, and date (include links/URL to moving image works or documentation of time-based/ performance work if desired,) and (3) your Resume or C.V.
Drop files here or
Accepted file types: pdf, Max. file size: 100 MB, Max. files: 1.

    * The Alex Brown Foundation will accept international applicants (non-U.S. citizens) in accordance with Residency guidelines and U.S. visitor, visa and tax laws. Artists currently living and working in the U.S. with a valid visa are eligible and encouraged to apply. Artists are responsible for managing their visa status if accepted to the residency. The Alex Brown Foundation cannot currently assist in any visa related issues.