All posts by Rachel Polan

DAVID WOLTER: AN INSPIRED INTERVIEW

David Wolter is one of the kindest people I have had the pleasure to speak with. From the short gallery talk he gave in the morning through the interview I had with him later that afternoon, his genuine pleasure and passion for storytelling through art was obvious. Throughout the interview, Wolter not only answered all of my questions thoughtfully, he asked some intriguing questions of his own. This Q&A is a little longer, since all his responses were so astute I had trouble condensing the interview.
-Rachel

Rachel: Can you tell me a little about yourself as an artist?

David: That’s a very difficult question to answer, I think. I access art through my identity as a craftsman. So, I see myself in the grand tradition of cartoonists and storyboard artists. There’s this great kind of American tradition – of unfortunately all white males – in the 50s wearing a collared shirt and a tie, and an apron and a little visors and sitting at a desk and drawing cartoons. I see myself as an extension of that tradition. The word cartooning for me, as I define it – it’s misleading for a lot of people but whatever – for me it means you write and you draw both. It’s drawing as a form of writing. So, being a story artist in animation is to me a natural extension of that kind of mentality of ‘I do both of these things.’ I’m not just an illustrator, I’m not just a writer. I love both things. One of the few places where those things are combined is what I do, which I love.

“Cheetah” A part of Mascot Zodiac

What made you start drawing and how have you developed over time?

I think newspaper comics were my first. They were so accessible, there’s the paper, and oh, there’s drawings in the back. From there it was the library, which in my mind is the crowning achievement of Western civilization, the fact that libraries exist. I love them. All of my first exposures to cartoons and comic books were through the local library. You know, the “Garfield” collections, and like “Mad Magazine” when I was way too young to understand it. The planets aligned when I was 12, and someone started a cartooning school in Colorado Springs where I grew up, which is not an artistic place at all. I was able to take classes on comic books and cartooning and it was super formative at that age to see adults be like, “Hey you can do this for a living, why don’t you come learn how.”

Caricatures of Ron Swanson and Batman

How have your desires and goals changed? Or, how have you gotten from where you started to where you are now?

I think that every human being has a responsibility to be the person they’re made to be. Do you know what I mean? Luckily we live in the first world so we have the opportunity to pursue those things. I think it was Plato – don’t quote me, but I guess I’m on the record now – that said “If everybody would do what they loved, there would be no illness in the world.” I’m not that naive but I do think that. How many people do you know who hate what they do and it’s awful to be around them? I have a wife and two kids now, and I want to give them life, and part of that process for me is being as true as I can to the person I want to be. And directing, frankly, doesn’t feel compatible with a life in which I’m there for my family.

I guess my secondary identity – so cartooning is one, but that’s the foundation – the other identity is a storyteller. I just want to tell stories, and I want to make up my own stories, and I want to create characters that people connect with. So, going away to the woods and writing a book is just the cheap version – cheaper version, more affordable version – of having a team of artists creating a movie for years. Not that it’s cheap, but it’s just the more affordable version.

Game of Thrones caricatures

You talked about this a little already. But, do you feel like you have a responsibility as an artist, whatever you might define ‘responsibility’ to mean?

Yes. I think it’s the flipside of the privilege. A lot of people are like “Oh, it’s so cool that you do that,” because it’s kind of a “sexy” job. When I say I work in animation, I draw cartoons, people are like “Oh, I love cartoons!” It’s fun, and it really is fun a lot of times. And a lot of people want to do it, I think. So, if you’re one of the people who is fortunate enough to work in entertainment or work in a creative field, I think you have a responsibility, and this is probably I would imagine true of journalism as well; you have a responsibility to mean it. To bring your best self to the work as much as you can. In a sense, I think in journalism and storytelling, you’re providing a service to an audience right?

Animated films are, in America…I mean animation in America is a genre, and it shouldn’t be. You know what I mean? You expect a certain kind of film when you see an animated film. And really, what our responsibility is, as America sees it, is to provide things that a family can go to together. They won’t be offended, they might laugh a few times, there’s going to be a couple poop jokes maybe, and there’s going to be talking animals, and that’s what animation is. That’s a drop in the bucket of what it could be, obviously. So, the responsibility we have is we want to tell stories that people can connect with. I feel like storytelling is so much more powerful than the genre of animation as America practices it.

“Rich Man Chasing a Dollar”

This morning you talked a little bit about “Eyrie.” I must have missed the first part of that conversation, so can you tell me about that project?

It’s just a fancy word that means “Eagle’s Nest.” I grew up next to a castle called Glen Eyrie in Colorado, so that’s where I knew that word from. It’s a short film I did. It was my second, my student film at Cal Arts. I went there for two years. What I loved about Cal Arts is every year it was one filmmaker, one film, so every student makes a film every year. So, I made a film my first year. It was okay. And I made “Eyrie” the second year, and that’s how I got the job at Dreamworks. I also got a Student Academy Award for that, and I also got a Horizon Award from Augie. That’s probably why I’m here talking to you today.

Image from augustana.edu.

The Horizon Award is an Augustana University award given to alumni who are standouts in their field within 15 years of graduation. It aims to recognize those people for their work.

A still from one of Wolter’s short films.

How has Sioux Falls (or South Dakota) influenced your work?

I think the fact that my formative years happened here…and also I lived in the Twin Cities for a few years after graduation…I think grounded me. I saw working artists at Augie, I saw professors, guys like Jerry Punt who were committed to it, and sort of get into it, and it wasn’t “sexy” but you could tell they were passionate and invested and serious and committed. I mean if you live in the Midwest, it’s really cold a lot of the year, so it creates a…not everyone can do it. I don’t know that I could do it anymore. I think that living here in my formative years kind of steeled me in a way, kind of built in my work ethic and emphasized authenticity to a degree, so that when I got to Burbank all the glitzy Hollywood stuff I kind of don’t care about. Maybe that’s cliché, but it’s kind of my best answer.

More Game of Thrones caricatures.

You’ve done some amazing work on films (Kung Fu Panda 3 for example). What’s it like to work as an animation artist for Dreamworks?

There are days where I pinch myself, like, “This is my life, this is what I do for a living? This is incredible!” and there are days where I want to quit so bad. Sometimes it’s like I don’t feel like doing this today, I don’t feel like doing what my director wants me to do for the next four days. And that’s the job. That’s the give and take of it.

“Making the Sight 1-5”

What can you tell me about your “Mascot Zodiac” project?

I’ve always loved comic books, and decided I wanted to make some. “Mascot Zodiac” is a graphic memoir. Which is, as you know, stories from my life told in a comic book form. They’re specifically focused on my obsession with animals and animal mascots. For whatever reason, that’s dented me in my head, and I’m obsessed with it. I figured out I have like 12 really compelling stories to tell about that phenomenon as it impacts my life, beginning when I was like four years old. I have 12 chapters, and chapter 10 or 11 is about being a Viking. I hope I get to that someday. Right now I only have the first four chapters finished.

A shirt design of the Augustana Vikings defeat of USD and SDSU.

David lives with his wife Amanda, two-year-old daughter Emmy and 3-month-old son Zeke near Los Angeles, California. His current personal project is about Emmy and trying to understand her despite how different she is to him. David’s first priority is family, and making sure he stays in touch with his children is a major part of that. Follow his work on Mascot Zodiac on his website. You can also find David on Facebook and Twitter.

7 Reasons to “Make Art Your Business”

The “Make Art Your Business” class series this January and February is still open for registration! The sessions, led by Claudia Dail, are designed to help artists learn business basics, and consequently make their art business a success.  Not sure exactly what “business basics” can help you with? Well, we’ve compiled a list of seven reasons why taking the classes would be a great start to the new year for you and your business. Take a look!

  1. It’s All About You! While each of the classes focus on you, the first session in particular is all about you; it focuses on your goals and vision for making your art a business. If you don’t know what your goals are just yet, don’t worry – that’s what the class is for. It will help you decide what you want your niche to be and how to set goals and reach them.
  2. Build Your Strengths, Strengthen Your Weaknesses. The classes also help you find your personal strengths and weaknesses in running a business. Knowing where you excel and where you need to focus more energy to succeed is an important skill to learn for this process, and builds on the goals you develop for yourself and your art.
  3. Confidence Building. Along with developing your goals and strengths, the workshops offer opportunities to hone your skills. Not your artistic skills (you’ve already got those!), but the skills you need to market yourself. 
  4. Safe Practice Space. As a business person, you’ll need to learn to pitch yourself and business. The workshop offers a place to practice and develop this pitch without too much pressure.
  5. Learn About the Sioux Falls Art Community. Since you’ll be learning to pitch yourself, you’ll need to know about the community you’re pitching to. That means learning about the Sioux Falls art scene and making connections with other artists. The classes offer both of these, and help you discover where and how to access your niche community.
  6. Build Relationships with Other Artists. Speaking of the Sioux Falls art community, attending the workshops will connect you with other artists. Connections are important, and building relationships with other people in the art community helps make those connections.
  7. Learn to Value Your Art Competitively. The last session in the series helps you learn how to put a price on your work. You’ll learn about perceived value and how to register your art, along with learning how to keep records and reports.

And finally, in Claudia’s own words:  “It is up to each individual to decide how engaged they want to be. Those who go for it come away with far more than what transpires in the classroom.”

What are you waiting for???

REGISTER HERE! Deadline is January 8. Space is limited.

 

FIRST FRIDAY REVIEW: DECEMBER

This First Friday had some special gallery events at Rehfeld’s, the Washington Pavilion, and Eastbank. Rehfeld’s and Eastbank each hosted a show that focused on smaller size with a variety of artist participants. If you’re looking for a smaller piece of art, this is the time to go get it! The Pavilion had two newer exhibits, plus the “South Dakota Governor’s 7th Biennial Art Exhibition.” These places are all showing a great variety of art this month, and each location has a wide array of different styles, materials, and conceptual art.

Drawn to the Darkroom

Heidi Draley McFall        Visual Arts Center Jerstad Gallery (2nd Floor)

Opened October 21, Drawn to the Darkroom features photorealistic portraits of people in the throes of emotion. Starting with 35mm film, Draley McFall’s images start as photos, but are recreated as portraits with added layers of texture, a kind of homage to the imperfections of darkroom developing. All of the images on display are black and white, but striking.

A line on the artist’s statement for the gallery

The Tiramisu Diaries

Connie Herring                     Visual Arts Center Shultz Gallery (3rd Floor)

Guest artist Connie Herring is back at the Visual Arts Center showcasing a project 20 years in the making. The Tiramisu Diaries, in her words, is a project about friendship, eating together, and companionship. This is her fifth or sixth installation of the project, most of which were on a much larger scale. Connie makes her own paper, does the binding, and dyes the ribbons in coffee. The result is an almost tangible (but please don’t touch!) texture that leaps off the installation and into the minds of passerby. A photo collage of various places Herring and friends have eaten tiramisu accompanies the installation, and brings life to the stories she has to go with the project.

Connie talks to some visitors about her work.

South Dakota Governor’s 7th Biennial Art Exhibition

Various Artists                    Visual Arts Center Everist Gallery (3rd Floor)

The Governor’s Biennial features an array of sculpture and canvas work with an impressive use of colors and subject matter. The whole gallery was filled with these pieces of art, and offered some surprises around the corners.

8×8

Various Artists                     Rehfeld’s Art and Framing (10th and Phillips)

8×8 is exactly what it sounds like, a showcase of art 8 inches by 8 inches wide. Various artists, 8 to be exact, created small-scale paintings and mixed media on canvas to sell for $88. The wall that displayed these pieces already had several stickers marking sold paintings by the time I got there at 6:45. The other art around the room was by the same artists participating in 8×8 and perhaps a few others.

The “8×8” wall
Edges of the 8x8s, some canvas, some wood, some other media
A particularly creative 8×8

Postcard Art

Various Artists                                 Eastbank Art Gallery (8th and Railroad)

Eastbank’s size-driven show featured art approximately the size of a postcard from around 20 artists. Larger art was on display as well, but the postcards were the feature of the night. Artists were milling about and talking to patrons as they browsed through the carts. There was a little something for everyone in this show, ranging from wildlife portraits to caricaturish fantasy.  

ANOTHER SHOW WORTH NOTING:

The Naughty List                          Third Eye Gallery at Vishnu

Art made for giving! 20+ artists, pieces $100 or less. All art is buy and go. Take what you want off the wall and give the gift of local art. The show and opportunity to purchase runs all month. There are paintings, jewerlry, sculpture, photography and more more more.

DAVID SIEH: AN INSPIRED INTERVIEW

Talking with David Sieh in his gallery at the 8th and Railroad Center was a great experience. I learned a lot about what it means to be a contemporary naturalist, and how David approaches his work. Though a small space, Se Gallery was a brightly lit workspace with a lot going on. Getting a glimpse into his artistic process and journey as an artist was a treat.
-Rachel

Rachel: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself as an artist and your preferred medium to work with?

David: Sure. I guess, like we were talking about before, I grew up in the Twin Cities area and then moved here. So my art evolved from nature, landscape and wildlife. Then I was exposed to more contemporary, abstract art, then very influenced by the New York school of artists, all the abstract expressionists and then into pop-art. So my art kind of combines all of that.

About me, I grew up in nature, surrounded by nature and I always had a love of art, to use color and design. Stuff with that really developed my interest in art and I schooled in art so I just continued down that path I guess.

David got his Bachelor of Sciences degree with an emphasis in art from the University of Sioux Falls after bouncing to Augustana and Vermillion for a while. He’s been making art for 30 plus years. He’s been in his current gallery space for over 5 years.

You write that exposure to Terry Redlin’s work drove you to a career in art. What about him and his work inspired you to start making art?

When I was in high school, Terry Redlin was living in Hastings, Minnesota. He was one of the first people to inspire me as far as having a career in art. I actually did go over to his house–his home studio–when he was very first promoting his work. He inspired me in that a person could do the art and make a living. I was very much into nature and environmental art at that time, and I still am. Even though my work doesn’t emulate his work or really show any influence of him, his career path influenced me.

You call yourself a contemporary naturalist painter. What does that mean to you personally and how does it affect your work as an artist?

I’m very inspired by nature, that’s where I recharge my batteries. I have to be alone in nature. I try to do a little bit everyday, even if it’s just walking down the sidewalk or just in the backyard; to kind of get in-tune, get in a rhythm with nature, so as a naturalist I learn from nature. Just seeing how complicated things are…color patterns, designs, all that stuff influences my aesthetic. As a contemporary naturalist, I express that in my own painting through my gestures, colors, compositions. So, my work comes off as non-representational a lot of the time, but still influenced by nature.

You started drawing and painting when you were young “as a form of communication.” How does art communicate to you and how do you see yourself communicating through art to others?

On the representation level it’s a relatively cut and dry conversation where people just see me representing nature or an image. Then I can also combine those images with other aspects so it changes the dialogue to where it makes things a little more complicated. People have to think about the relationship of two images side by side, often times in a conservation aspect where it makes you think about the fragile-ness of nature, also the complexities of nature. Then, if you were to look at the abstract art, it doesn’t necessarily have a dialogue about nature. Its dialogue is more of an emotional impact where hopefully people look at it and have an emotional, maybe even a physical reaction to it. You know, that guttural reaction where you really like something or you really don’t, and then you stop and think about why you do or don’t like it.

Do you feel like you have a responsibility through your art to communicate those things or feel as though you have a responsibility as an artist?

I definitely do. I feel that I have the ability, or talent or sometimes I even feel like I’m a medium. I don’t even know exactly where the work comes from or what the work is, I’m just the medium putting the work down. So yes, I feel that I do have a responsibility to create as much art as I physically can just to get those conversations rolling.

As a part of the Sioux Falls art community, what do you think of the art scene?

There’s a real good talent pool here in town, a lot of people interested in it, but as far as a collector base and as far as general public knowledge it’s really minimal. But it seems to grow a bit all the time.

David’s list of in-town favorite shows include the past “Artists Against Hunger” shows and the Washington Pavilion’s Arts Night. He recommends Exposure, Post Pilgrim, Rehfeld’s and Piper. His work can currently be found at Piper and his studio at 8th and Railroad. He has also done murals at the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum.

How often do you create new work? And how long does a piece usually take you to finish?

As you can see, I’ve got work that’s in different stages of finish. I paint every single day. I’m in the process constantly. I’m never out of the process.

I’m gonna go with the usual 50 years and 10 minutes. It’s years and years of developing your technique and style.

Do you have any future plans for shows or specific pieces of art?

For me the art career and the whole thing is a combination of steady and consistent and patience. I’ve been doing this for 30+ years, so for me it’s the long term game.

David does accept commissions, seeing them as “Totally relevant and necessary, and part of the process.”

Follow his work through his Facebook page.

Photo Tour: Ka-Chunk

On Friday, November 10, we had the opportunity to attend a local, one-of-a-kind vending machine art show at Ipso Gallery called “Ka-Chunk.” Both the prizes, as well as the machines were created by an assemblage of 30+ local artists. The engineer of Steve Bormes‘ dispenser even made the effort to create a wheelchair-friendly push button, a refreshing consideration! So impressed.

Tokens sold out not quite an hour into the evening. Prepared for the demand, the gallery had a collection of Fresh Produce limited edition swag to keep the vending going. It was a packed house from start to finish, and plenty for people of all ages. Here’s a little photo tour of the creative machines and prizes artists came up with for the night! 

FIRST FRIDAY REVIEW: NOVEMBER

This month I stopped by shows at Eastbank, Rug & Relic, and the Washington Pavilion. No new shows at the Pavilion this month, but all of the great activities for kids still happened. There were so many artists talking about their work at Eastbank, I spent most of my time there. The variety of work made fewer stops on my route doable, but I highly recommend stopping by some other locations as well. The Museum of Visual Materials and Rehfeld’s were two stops I had on my list. See more art shows on the Sioux Falls Arts Council webpage.            -Rachel

RUG & RELIC

This First Friday, Rug & Relic hosted a one-night-only feature show of over 150 pieces from Chris Vance. Vance’s work plays on familiar cartoon-like styles and bright colors to bring his work to life. Pieces like “Peanut Butter” take a more abstract turn, but use the same colors and curvy lines as his other styles. Other work on display at Rug & Relic included light sculptures from Steve Bormes, and paintings from other area artists.

EASTBANK

The first artist talk of the evening came from John Kolb. His art style is influenced heavily by his Christian roots. Kolb joked that the goal of one of the pieces on display was to see how many different ways he could do a cross. His pieces focus on shapes in a more abstract approach. He feels that sometimes he gets “locked into” greens and blues occasionally. Using a layering technique with his colors, Kolb’s pieces can get up to 5 coats of paint. He has around 5 pieces on display at Eastbank .

Linda Ackland-Kolb gave the second talk of the night, presenting and describing her pastel-painted beeswax works of art. Her pieces, though small, take a lot of work to get right. She fielded questions about the framing process as well, which is delicate since she does not use sealant to set her pieces. The work on display at Eastbank is a series of vessels and some fashion inspired pieces. Linda plans to branch into more clothing inspired pieces next.

Warren Arends ventured from on-canvas art into stonework and jewelery. His work started as a hobby, but now Arends has two students in soldering. He turns colorful stones from all different countries and continents into pendants and rings. His business, Arends Agates, custom makes every piece for individual requests.

Scott Chleborad was another featured artist at Eastbank. His work combines painting and photography that results in often psychedelic landscapes. Chleborad’s talk was short and to the point, with a few anecdotes about his process. His work with light and contrast makes his work unique and beautiful.

All of the artists’ work at Eastbank is worth a trip to 8th and Railroad to see. More than just these four artists have work on display, and the work they brought is just as exciting. Next First Friday, Eastbank will be doing a “postcard sale” of local art, so be sure to check out the current work on display before then.

 

FIRST FRIDAY REVIEW: OCTOBER

This month, First Friday featured a slew of artists participating in the Art and Wine Walk. Most locations had the artists inside their shops, so the looming threat of a downpour was no concern. The rain held off just long enough for the outdoor locations to show off their craft. Instead of going to every single stop on the walk, since there were so many great artists there, I picked the “You don’t see that everyday!” locations.  ~Rachel

Rebekah Scott Designs at Atoley Spa

She learned how to sew in 4-H as a child. Then, one Christmas as a “poor newlywed,” Rebekah Scott realized she did not have to buy gifts. Family and friends received handmade gifts that year, and Rebekah realized that she could start a business with her craft and still raise a family. Thirteen years later, she is still making purses. Her website, shoprsd.com, is based on an interactive system that lets visitors pick designs and see different fabrics on the item they choose. Her wares on display at Atoley Spa had something to please everyone; a variety of styles, colors and patterns were available with more on her site.

Nathan Rueckert at A League of Your Own

“America At The Seams” is Nathan Ruecker’s latest and largest work, and also the name of his soon to be released book. For almost two decades he has worked with old tattered baseballs, turning them into various forms of art. He makes everything from keychains to crosses. Nathan got his inspiration after the September 11th attacks, and he played baseball in college. His work has expanded from the original idea of American flags and really taken off over the years. He works with baseballs because the sport is still “America’s favorite pastime,” and keeps the game close. See more of his work on his website.

“America at the Seams”

Swen’s Reclaimed Wares at Say Anything Jewelry

Mike Swenson brought his reclaimed wood art pieces to his sister’s shop for First Friday, along with some of his tools. Mike kayaks on the rivers, and his state carvings are often inspired by these rivers; he can take the less interesting shapes of some states and make them dynamic by carving in the rivers that run through them. Most of the wood Mike uses comes from barns or pallets, and all of it is reclaimed. Find the Minnesota native on Snapchat to see in progress works at swenmn, or see his shop on Etsy to buy his art.

Mike’s tool set up at Say Anything

Amy Jarding Weaving at Coffea

Amy Jarding, co-founder of JAM and a weaver for three years, set up shop at Coffea on Friday night. Mostly self taught through YouTube videos, Amy creates vibrant and stylish woven pieces in many sizes. Her large works immediately catch the eye in the space, and the hanging accents add color to the ambience. She uses new and used yarn on her frame loom, and sometimes even found objects. Follow her on Instagram or Facebook to see more of her work with weaving and other artistic endeavors.

Parklet Design Competition at Sioux Falls Design Center

South Dakota State University students of all grades submitted sculpture ideas for the Sioux Falls Design Center Parklet Design Competition this Friday. Six student groups were selected to take over parking spots near the 11th and Phillips intersection and set up their designs that passerby could vote on with tokens provided. Designs included a wide spectrum of ideas influenced by pop culture and nature. An interactive game made of balloons and complete with slingshot was compiled by a group including student Walker Kropenske. He said the piece was fairly simple and based on the game Angry Birds.  “What’s That Sound” inspired by Blue Man Group and Pinterest crafts was put together by a group of four including Rachael Selberg. She said her group wanted to create an interactive experience for children and adults too. “Feathers,” a social media positivity campaign that passerby were able to add to (#WhatMakesMeFly), was created by Liz and Angela. They were hoping to spread positive energy on social media in Sioux Falls. A stained glass house inspired Jaylee, Gaby and Samuel for their cellophane built tent. Unfortunately, the sun did not come out much to make their piece shine they way they hoped. “Palisades Pavilion” was created by Kyle Franta and Thomas Schneider, inspired by Palisades State Park and a pit stop for those attending the parklet event. All of the sculptures were large enough to fill their parking spots and draw passerby in. Learn more about the Sioux Falls Design Center and their upcoming competitions on their website.

“Palisades Pavilion”
Liz and Angela with “Feathers”
Angry Birds Interactive
“What’s That Sound?”

FIRST FRIDAY REVIEW: SEPTEMBER

Despite the rain earlier in the day, September’s First Friday was a popular place to be. This month, I visited the events at the Washington Pavilion, Rehfeld’s Gallery, Third Eye Gallery at Vishnu, Exposure Gallery, and the Block Party at 8th and Railroad. Talking to the artists at most of the galleries and learning about their work was a treat! The events were all family friendly and worth a trip downtown to see.

~Rachel

“Cracked Open” the Pavilion

Emily Stokes poses next to one of her pieces.

Introduced by Sarah Odens, the Assistant Curator of the VAC, and Jason Folkerts, the Director of the VAC, Emily Stokes appeared to talk about her new exhibition “Cracked Open.” Stokes was very open about her work and life, while telling the crowd her approach to art and her process. Though the gathering only included 18 people, Stokes embraced the intimate atmosphere and opened the floor to questions. She answered inquiries about printmaking, her storytelling, the process she uses and the inspiration for most of her art.

Stokes’ work in the Contemporary Gallery is a compilation of her box and printmaking work that encompasses her style well. The larger pieces on the wall have a simplicity and brightness to them that immediately attracts the eye. The work featured in the gallery is inspired by the differences between small towns and the contrast of living in different places. She explained that this exhibition is somewhat of a new venture for her, and the box concept in some of the pieces came from a desire to change things up a bit.

“I always think of Monet and his haystacks,” Stokes says. “The boxes became a way to kind of unify ideas.”

This exhibition was the first time for Stokes to see her bright work against a dark wall, an experience she excitedly shared with the audience. “It’s taken me awhile to get comfortable with color,” she said.

Her current project is one similar to the boxes, but branches out into more organically shaped creations. She has also been working with screen printing, though her favorite style is still drawing with a ballpoint pen.

As part of First Friday, the Pavilion had a scavenger hunt for children that included pieces in Stokes’ exhibition. Families came in and out of the gallery throughout the talk, producing a lively atmosphere. The unusually shaped pieces and familiar images are a great opportunity to expose kids to art they will understand.

Every side of Stokes’ art has something to it, and the three-dimensional features keep visitors on their toes throughout the exhibit. With the warm colors and farm life images, Stokes has produced a relatable and inspiring exhibition. Director Jason Folkerts said it best: “[She] does a good job of inheriting the Midwest.”

Also at the Pavilion is the “Above the Fold” exhibit with featured origami from nine artists. This exhibit is amazing and has some larger than life pieces that will delight children and adults alike!

Karen Kinder at Rehfeld’s Gallery

Karen Kinder poses next to her favorite animal: sheep.

Walking into Rehfeld’s I was greeted immediately by the new owner, Matt Jorgenson. He was exceptionally polite and helpful in my search for Karen Kinder, the artist of the reception at the gallery that night. The gallery itself was very open and the floor plan well-suited to the foot traffic of a busy First Friday reception. With over 30 artists’ work on display, I was worried I would not be able to identify Kinder’s work. Boy was I wrong! The gallery had set her pieces centrally, and my eyes were drawn immediately to her work.

While walking through the gallery, there was a noticeably different feel from the modern vibe of the Contemporary Gallery at the Pavilion. Rehfeld’s had a warmer and more at-home feel to it. There were children about from the moment I walked in, but much more subdued than the ones at the scavenger hunt. Kinder’s work added to this calmer vibe,  featuring farm and field landscapes with sheep and cattle.

Kinder had many friends and acquaintances visiting with her throughout my time at the gallery. When I finally got a chance to talk to her, the explanations of her work were as warm as the paintings themselves. “Color is just fun!” She said.

Kinder loves color, especially purple, and contrast is extremely important in her work. She also explained that sheep are her favorite animal to paint, though she appreciates the “angularity” of cows as well.

Kinder’s work is well worth a trip to Rehfeld’s, and a great fit for the family or date night. The warmth and farm-grown feel of her oil paintings are inviting and capture the essence of farm life in South Dakota.

Shiny, Happy People at Vishnu Bunny/Third Eye Gallery

Anna Glenski, Morgan Bentley, Hannah Wendt, Dustin Marie, Tyler Breske, Trista White Dove, and The Art of Lemmons were featured in Third Eye Gallery’s latest show. Unfortunately, I did not stay long enough to hear the music from Bodega Sushi and Granola featured that night. The artists put together an amazing array of art in different mediums. The work on display included everything from sculpture to charcoal drawings on newsprint.

The artwork in this gallery presented a different side to modern art that the previous exhibitions influenced by farm life could not achieve. The neons and saturated colors of pop culture icons filled the walls of the galleries, and mixed media pieces with global influence found their place there as well. Though the exhibition was listed as a family event, there were a few pieces present that included nudity or more adult themes that some families might want to avoid.

While many artists presented more abstract concepts, common themes throughout the exhibition were human forms, or parts of them, and pop culture references like Pokémon and the Joker. Along with the many brightly colored pieces, there were quite a few black and white or monochromatic pieces, as well. Some artists had a theme while others simply displayed a selection of their varying works. The variety of work displayed was a refreshing change of pace from the previous galleries I visited, though each gallery had its own charms.

Bonus Feature! Our own Hannah Wendt was featured at this exhibition. She also had work at my next stop–the 5th Annual Tallgrass Recovery Art Show.

Tallgrass 5th Annual Recovery Art Show

The last gallery stop on my First Friday tour was the busiest yet. Held at Exposure Gallery, the Tallgrass Recovery Art Show features the artwork of people who have been affected by addiction. On Facebook the gallery said, “Art is a medium for healing and we’re happy that we can help bring attention to the work that Tallgrass does each year in a small way.”

This show featured paintings, sculptures, and a few found-art style pieces. Most notable in the two room show were the larger-than-life sculpture of a man made of branches, and the fabric draped painted sign. A voting box sat next to the entryway of the gallery, and several visitors stopped to voice their opinion during my time at the show.

Many of the paintings featured words, quotes or the artist’s own thoughts on addiction. Another common motif throughout the show contrasted bright color with black and white or shades of gray. Subjects for the paintings and sculpture ranged from abstract to depictions of people. Though touching is not allowed, many pieces in the show make you want to reach out and feel their different textures and layers. This sort of tactile yearning was a unique experience among the gallery shows that night.

Some of the art in this show may be disturbing to younger audiences, but overall I would consider it family friendly. The pieces came from artists of different age ranges, and the perspectives were as varied as the artists themselves. The pieces in the show draw the audiences in, and simultaneously push them away. This show truly encompasses the different sides of addiction and recovery for an audience who may not have experience with the situation.

I ended the night at the 8th and Railroad Block Party. I didn’t stay long, but it was busy and the music was interesting! The band I heard was a blues group that included a didgeridoo and harmonica in their songs. First Friday was a hit, and there are lots of great new art shows to go see this month. I highly recommend all of the places I stopped at!

“Release the Cranes” at the Washington Pavilion

For five years Reina Okawa’s cranes have greeted visitors at the north entrance of the Washington Pavilion. But this fall, the exhibit comes down. This Tuesday, August 29, the Pavilion offers a last gathering to appreciate the cranes that have become a fixture in the Sioux Falls community. The cranes have been at the Pavilion so long that Meagan Dion, the lead curator for the Visual Arts Center, clarified that the exhibit was always a temporary one. “It wasn’t ever intended to become a permanent installation,” she said. “But we wanted to give people as much time to appreciate [the cranes] as possible.”

Reina Okawa’s original sketch for “You, Me and the Cranes”

Since they were installed in 2012, the cranes have become a Sioux Falls community favorite. The send-off event  on August 29, “Release the Cranes! A Farewell Party”, celebrates the partnership between Reina Okawa and the Pavilion and gives the community a chance to say goodbye to the exhibit. Okawa will be at the event, though the actual removal of the cranes will not happen until later. The 30-foot-long strings of “You, Me and the Cranes” hold thousands of origami cranes, a limited number of which will be given away early at the party.

The farewell party intends to alert everyone that the cranes are going away, and ensure that the community has a chance to say goodbye. “We just want to make sure people can enjoy them one last time,” said Dion.

Some of Okawa’s other origami work is on display in the “Above the Fold” exhibit in the Visual Arts Center Gallery until September 16, 2017. The Visual Arts Center will be closed during the farewell party, but the cranes and her work in the gallery can be viewed any time the building is open until the end of the exhibition.
Please join us in saying goodbye to the cranes from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29. If you’ve only seen the large cranes towards the bottom of the strings, try going to the fourth floor to see the smaller more colorful ones! You can RSVP on Facebook to the “Release the Cranes! A Farewell Party”

-Rachel