EM NGUYEN: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

Michelle St. Vrain Cover-2Last month I sat down briefly to chat with artist Em Nguyen about her work. Specializing in watercolor and charcoal, Nguyen creates detailed, whimsical pieces, often inspired by nature or the requests of her patrons. Whether she is managing Lucky’s, or finishing yet another commissioned piece, this lady knows how to hustle. That being said, it is obvious how much thought and care goes into each new work.

Nguyen understands the necessity of fostering the art community, and does her part through organizing the Art Collective at Lucky’s Bar for the past six years. This free event gives new artists an opportunity to show their work without the pressure of a gallery setting, with the next Collective being held this summer. It is because of events like this, and people like Nguyen, that the Sioux Falls arts community will continue to thrive. Thank you for all that you do. ~Amy

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3 Non-Monetary Ways You Can Support the Sweet Art Show

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The Sweet Art Show is the annual fundraiser for our nonprofit. It fuels our organization throughout the year. Money raised from this event is critical to the success of JAM, but that does not mean we do not appreciate everything else our friends do to support us. Here are 3 great non-monetary ways to get involved with JAM!

  1. Get social for us. Share the event on Facebook. Invite your friends. Like our Sweet Art Show posts. Comment and encourage. There is this thing with social media called “going viral” and the more views we get for our show, the more our event will be seen by a newer audience through the complicated Facebook algorithms. Science? Maybe.
  2. Donate your time. We are always looking for volunteers for the show. From greeting people, to taking free will donations, to setting up and tearing down, there are so many hands needed to make the Sweet Art Show successful. It is actually really fun, and you meet some great people and new friends.
  3. Donate a skill. The Sweet Art Show takes quite a few talents to make the show successful. Are you a pro on the phones? We would love to get some volunteers to call out for corporate sponsor donations. Are you great at writing? We are always looking for bloggers to write posts for us (like this one). Are you a social media whiz? We would love to have live-tweeting commentary throughout the show.

JAM would not be where we are today without volunteering and donations, and most importantly, the belief in our cause from so many people in this community. We are truly grateful for everything this community has done for us over the past year and a half. We look forward to the show and what the rest of 2016 will bring! See you at the show on February 12, from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., at the Icon Event Hall + Lounge.

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5 Reasons You Should Bring Your Kids to the Sweet Art Show

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Can’t find a sitter so you can come out and support the Sweet Art Show? Excellent. Bring them along!

  1. Kids are our favorite. For real. We love kids. Teaching kids in our group classes, private lessons, and seeing their eyes light up when their little, creative minds get to spinning – there is nothing like it. We love kids. We would love to see yours at the Sweet Art Show.
  2. It is a kid-friendly event. We want families to attend. We are serving ice cream for everyone from little to big. There will also be some tasty snacks to munch on, as well. There is something for everyone (including adult beverages for mom and dad).
  3. It is winter, and activities for kids are hard to find sometimes. So, bundle up the family and get out of the house to support a great cause.
  4. There is a kid activity table. Let your child’s imagination run wild with the arts and crafts table we will have set up for them to play at. Socialize with friends and let your little ones have fun.
  5. Let them experience an art show. Have you ever taken your kids to an art show? This would be a fantastic opportunity to show them how to admire and appreciate art, as well as meet the people who created the art.

The Sweet Art Show is the annual fundraiser for our nonprofit. It fuels our organization throughout the year. Money raised from this event is critical to the success of JAM. We look forward to seeing you at the show on February 12 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Icon Event Hall + Lounge.

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First Friday Review: February 5th, 2016

A rare moment of warmth in the South Dakota winter meant I really didn’t mind wandering around on this First Friday. And mild weather came with a mild schedule. I had plenty of time to linger at each place because I got an early start and only had a handful of haunts to hit up. So let me share what I found with you. Continue reading First Friday Review: February 5th, 2016

3 Reasons Teachers Should Attend the Sweet Art Show

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The Sweet Art Show is the annual fundraiser for our nonprofit. It fuels our organization throughout the year. Money raised from this event is critical to the success of JAM.

Teachers are one of our primary customers at the JAM store. We love helping teachers find what they need, inspire projects or provide ideas for classrooms and students! Are you a teacher? Here are 5 great reasons to come out and support the event!

  1. JAM is here for your classroom needs. JAM’s primary purpose is to offer deeply discounted art and craft supplies to anyone and everyone. From markers and crayons, to drawing pads to old frames to fabric, the store is filled to the brim with items you could be using in your classroom for decorations, projects, crafts, or even to stock up on extra supplies for student’s that don’t have any.
  2. JAM is here for your students. If you do not know about JAM, your students may not either. Many kids in the Sioux Falls School District have a hard time paying for lunch, let alone art supplies. Promote JAM in your classroom! Let your students and student’s  parents know where they can get quality art supplies that do not break the bank.
  3. Other teachers will be there. Every year, we interview teachers in our Art Educator Interview series. (Know of someone who should be featured? Contact us!) We love hearing what teachers have to say about art in our community and classrooms. Mingle with other art supporters and bounce creative ideas off of each other.

We look forward to seeing you at the show on February 12 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Icon Event Hall + Lounge.

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5 Reasons to Attend the Sweet Art Show

 

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The Sweet Art Show is the annual fundraiser for our nonprofit. It fuels our organization throughout the year. Money raised from this event is critical to the success of JAM! Here are 5 great reasons to be there.

  1. You have never even heard of JAM Art and Supplies. Great! This is the perfect opportunity to see what our nonprofit is all about. Mingle with artists. Admire artwork. Bid on raffle prizes.
  2. You like ice cream. Who doesn’t? I happen to love ice cream and the gourmet ice cream bar served at the Sweet Art Show is unlike any sundae bar you will ever experience.
  3. You need kid-friendly events and activities to attend. It’s hard to find things to do in the winter. This event is perfect! We want kids to tag along! Not only do we have some snacks and sweets to munch on, but we also have a kid’s activity table for them to play at.
  4. You love supporting the arts. JAM is committed to creating a thriving art community in Sioux Falls. With interviews of artists, children’s art classes, private art lessons, deeply discounted art supplies in the store and even yoga for toddlers, JAM is whole-heartedly striving to provide more and more opportunities for you (and your kids) to be involved in the arts in Sioux Falls.
  5. You love social gatherings. Awesome! There will be tons of people at the event. Make it a girl’s night out with a pit stop at the show, bring your family or pop in by yourself. You’ll be sure to see someone you know, or at least walk away having met some of the finest art enthusiasts in Sioux Falls!

The Sweet Art Show is truly a laid-back event. A free will donation will be taken at the door. We look forward to seeing all of your sweet faces at the show on February 12 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Icon Event Hall + Lounge.

JAM-Profile-Signature_Katie

SHARON WEGNER-LARSEN: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

lance (3)There is something special about viewing an artist’s work in-progress. The raw, intimate glimpse of a temporary existence, an image in flux of both content and time. For Sharon Wegner-Larsen, this type of documentation is simply a part of her creative process; each piece seems to be painstakingly documented, and generously offered to the public in an engaging way. Talking to Sharon, you can tell she is a natural born teacher, someone who values the dedication and discipline attached to strengthening a craft.

Much like her marriage of painting, illustration and design, Sharon combines her love of science and art to create vivid, detailed explorations of life on earth and the space above. Seeking to create a dialogue between the two, her pieces celebrate exploration, and the wonder of the natural world. Read on to find the inspiration behind her work, how she keeps herself on task, and how she has watched the Sioux Falls art community grow. ~Amy

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The Sweet Art Show: A Look Back, Forward

Everyday JAM receives donated, lightly used art supplies that they are able to turn around and get into the hands of artists and crafters at an affordable price. That is just one stroke of the paintbrush. JAM Art and Supplies fosters community. Whether it is through their classes and workshops or their website’s First Friday Reviews and Inspiring Interviews, they are a palette of resources for the Sioux Falls art scene. To support that work, JAM hosts an annual fundraiser – the Sweet Art Show, two days before Valentine’s Day. If you heart art, you will not want to miss it.

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Last year’s show at MoVM.

Last year, with attendance exceeding 250 people, the first Sweet Art Show raised more than $10,000. Thanks to those generous sponsorships and donations, JAM was able to further their mission in 2015. They offered classes and workshops to Sioux Falls artists and children – ranging from free art clubs for middle school and high schoolers, business coaching classes for artists, private lessons, as well as toddler yoga and sing-alongs. They also held their first creative reuse summer camp last August. Kids 8 to 13 learned what creative reuse was, and were also introduced to art installation. As a group, they developed a concept and turned Exposure Gallery into a “candy thunderstorm.”

Last year’s event was held at the Museum of Visual Materials, and featured the work of 16 local artists. Other sweet attractions included a gourmet ice cream social with toppings (created by Chef Lance Catering), a cash bar, silent auction, a create your own Valentine station, and a surprise performance by the Washington High School drumline.

This year, the Sweet Art Show will be at the Icon Event Hall + Lounge on February 12. From 5:30 to 8:30, it will once again showcase the work of local artists from the ‘Inspiring Interviews’ series, with the art available for purchase. Featured artists this year: Lance JeschkeTrish MayerKevin CarawayZach DeBoerJeff BallardShaine SchroederReina Okawa, Sharon Wagner Larsen, Em Nguyen, and Mary Groth.

The night will also include the gourmet ice cream bar and other tasty treats, a presentation of an artist advocacy award, live music by Elisabeth Hunstad, raffle prizes…plus a huge surprise that will give you a taste of just how sweet JAM really is.

Looking forward, along with acquiring space for a classroom and providing scholarships for private drawing lessons, JAM looks to send staff to a Monart Method drawing seminar and a Visual Thinking Strategies workshop – both art-based teaching methods that increase core learning skills, comprehension, and problem-solving skills. Funds will also help sustain and improve JAM’s website, increase creative reuse summer camps to 4, and provide more class and workshop opportunities to Sioux Falls artists and children in 2016.

New year, new goals, one strong mission: get art supplies in the hands of local artists. Get involved, yo!

Exclusive sponsorship opportunities are available for you or your business! Become an art advocate, and support a nonprofit that is making waves in the Sioux Falls community. For more information on sponsoring JAM and the Sweet Art Show, please ask to see the 2016 Sponsorship Commitment Form or contact Jess. Share with your business-owning friends too.

Other great ways to get behind the mission? JAM takes merchandise donations year-round, and is always looking for volunteers.

Check out more of last year’s event below. We will see your face on February 12!

 

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Nominate Someone Extraordinary for the Community Art Advocacy Award

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The Community Art Advocacy Award is an annual award presented at the yearly Sweet Art Show, recognizing an individual who is an advocate for the arts in our local community.

The award symbolizes someone who has:

  • Been a catalyst for artistic development.
  • Shown a commitment to advancing the arts in our community.
  • Displayed an understanding of the arts as a tool for community transformation.
  • Worked tirelessly towards a dream and goal.

We know that there are countless individuals involved in the Sioux Falls arts community that go unrecognized each day. These individuals sacrifice their time, talent and money to work toward a bigger picture, to engage the community in an active and present way.

Nominate someone who is going above and beyond, pushing the local art community to new heights. Fill out a contact form with the person’s name you wish to nominate and how they are creating positive change in our community.

The last day to nominate is February 3 at 5 p.m.

The winner will be announced at the show, which takes place on February 12 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Icon Event Hall + Lounge.

See you there! Nominate now!

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A Written Record of A Human Record

Seeing A Human Record, for me, was like drinking good whiskey. Nostalgia and just the right amount of philosophical possibility served up in a mattress-wrapped glass. I couldn’t forget the installation because it felt like I had stepped into someone else’s memories for a minute, just to find hints of my own.

To the artist, Ashton Bird, A Human Record  was kind of like an abandoned house. And after spending time with the painted mattresses and wallpaper peeling away from the structure in layers, one viewer told the installation’s curator, Sarah Odens, that it felt like “Post Apocalyptic Princess and the Pea”.

At the forefront of the installation Ashton crafted mattress-sized structures out of lumber and stacked them vertically, separated by the top layer of a mattress. He called it the filing cabinet, where “anonymous histories…[are] on file”.

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Just past that, a sort of walkway lined in salvaged pallets led to an open white space, ceilinged with reclaimed lumber.

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Rounding the corner again led to a space with painted mattresses lining its sides.

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Mattresses and Paint

Let me tell you about those mattresses.

Pre-install, they looked like a stack of twenty in a mattress recycle store in Sioux Falls. The employees had collected them for Ashton and intoned a pseudo-apology by saying, “we tried to pick the clean ones for you”. Thing is, used mattresses have a certain…scent about them, because a chunk of a lifespan has been spent on them. Both artist and gallery didn’t want the scent of a used mattress wafting through the space, so Ashton gave them a thorough, sanitizing wash and then the health inspector looked them over.

Why mattresses? Let’s back up and I’ll tell you the story.

Once upon a time Ashton was working in the Habsburg Exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where he stared at a few tapestries on a daily basis. Those tapestries indicate a family’s lineage, and that sparked a thought: “Hey, I wonder if I could make an anonymous lineage of people’s history?”

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This is Ashton.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Minneapolis, a woman decided, for unknown reasons, to relocate her mattress. By the time she’d lugged it out of her apartment, Ashton was at the Vietnamese restaurant right next to her apartment complex and he caught a glimpse of her. He said that both the woman and the mattress she was carrying looked a little tired and worn. Kinda like a pet can start to look like its owner.

He was a senior at Minnesota State University at the time, where he started out as a ceramicist. His professors pushed him to integrate outside media with clay until “eventually clay became just a material…like a painter. A painter can paint with anything. So…I can make art with anything, and then just making a composition with that, so it’s still interesting to look at, but combines things in kind of unexpected ways.”

Like combining salvaged lumber with recycled mattresses? Yes, of course.

The Little Gallery

Kara Dirkson is the director of the Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion, and she’s just as cool as her title. She says one of the benefits of the Corner Gallery is the lack of windows and its darker wall color. See, the gallery used to be a study room. But a name change and a wall demolition later and the Pavilion had gained an intimate studio right off of the Everist Gallery.

Ashton wanted to utilize the intimacy of the space by making the focal point “just me putting my energy on the mattresses,” so he painted them. “But then it turned too carnival, and then it looked like insanity…I didn’t want that. So I went through and whitewashed it to kinda tone it down,” which ultimately made room for a “kind of spiritual [feel]”.

Spiritual or commemorative, Kara pointed out that mattresses themselves record a large part of our personal histories. “All those aspects of our bodies that get absorbed into these odd things…[Ashton’s] kind of exposing them and putting them in our face.” So it makes sense that a number of conversations Ashton’s had with people at the exhibit revolve around “this reminds me of…” type of comments.

And that art has gotten people talking. Sarah says that’s quite the feat. “Because starting a conversation with art is hard, and I’m sure that that’s something you hope for…the magic of contemporary art that hasn’t been put into a historical canon is that there’s still a lot to debate and talk about it.” And Kara says those conversations are what the Pavilion hopes for with the exhibits they house in the Corner Gallery.

Now That it’s Over

When A Human Record came down, Ashton rolled it up and took it back to Tallahassee with him where his next work of art is grad school. He says he’s gravitating towards creating work with a “dreamy, dreamscape feeling” now.

I hope you got a chance to see it friends, and if you didn’t I hope Dan Thorson’s pictures in this post help dry your tears. And don’t forget to check back in a couple weeks, because I’ll be venturing back to the Pavilion to wander its galleries and tell you about their new exhibits.

Until next time.

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