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 2021 and 2022.

Applications for the Fall 2021 & 2022 Residency are closed. Applications for our 2023 year will be announced early spring, 2022.


The aim of the residency is to provide emerging and established artists of exceptional merit with an experience of the working conditions Brown found in Des Moines—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

The residency is not for a fixed term—the foundation will accept applications for tenures as short as four weeks and as long as one year, with preference given to applications for longer durations. Applications will be accepted from any artist 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.”


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


Housing provided or covered by an additional stipend, depending on the length of the residency.

The studio

A 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 to provide 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.


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.

Apply now

The Alex Brown Foundation is currently accepting applications for 2021 and 2022. Applications will be accepted from any artist in any medium. No portfolio fee will be charged for applications received through April 2021. We will be accepting applications through March 15 for residencies beginning in the fall of 2021 for as short as 8 weeks and as long as through May 2022. Later in the year we will be announcing the schedule for fixed-term residencies beginning in the summer and fall of 2022 If you are interested in participating, please click the button below to email a proposal that includes:

Please include any preferred dates or time windows.​