Category Archives: Inspired Interviews

ANGIE GILLESPIE: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

One of my favorite aspects about blogging for JAM is having the chance to go out and meet wonderful people. Sometimes they’re mysterious enchantresses or eccentric wizards. Other times, they seem like wildly excited kings and queens. This go around, I was invited into the lair of local Sioux Falls artist, Angie Gillespie. She showed me the wondrous way to create a captivating painting without the use of any paint. I thought she must have used alchemy to bring them to life in such a beautiful and mind-turning way. Having seen her process first hand, I can firmly say that her persistence with experimentation shines like gold through all of her pieces.
-Hannah
“Electric Neon” 6″ x 6″
Layers of wax covering Angela’s studio floor.
Are you from Sioux Falls, South Dakota? How long have you lived here? 

Lived in Sioux Falls my whole life except for a short couple years in Minneapolis.

How long have you been working with your art? 

I’ve painted my whole life, but started painting with wax two years ago. I actually read up and visually studied it for about six years before actually painting with wax. The timing just wasn’t right.
Angela beginning a new piece in her studio.

Dried wax.

Dried wax.

Where do you create? 

My studio is in my basement, in a home my parents built and then sold. It was lived in by two different families, until we bought it a few years back. I work every day in the same room that I once created in as a child. It even has the same wall pencil sharpener.

What do you work with? What exactly is that medium like? 

I create my encaustic medium by mixing beeswax with damar crystals which acts as a hardener. (Damar crystals are a resin.)  Many of my colors are custom created mixtures using dry pigments to which I add to the clear medium, and each layer of wax must be fused together with the previous layer by heat. I work with blow torches, irons and a heat gun. My palette is a griddle full of tins and soup cans. Wax has characteristics that can’t be changed. Almost as soon as my brush touches the panel, the wax on it has cooled. For this reason, wax doesn’t lay down and blend like acrylics or oils; that comes with using heat to push the colors around and melt. When I’m working on a piece, it’s not just about what’s on the surface, it’s also the colors that were intentionally painted before, only to reemerge when scraped away to reveal new patterns that are hidden beneath.

Angela applying wax to a board.
Angela using a blowtorch to melt wax making it liquid like.

Do you do commissions?

Of course! I love commissioned projects and working with clients who have a specific size and color palette in mind. It’s always a good feeling to make something that someone is so excited to get and hang in their home. It’s the ultimate compliment that they chose my work for something they see every day. I always feel very appreciative and grateful.

What’s your printing business?

Out of a challenge came a solution. I created APLIS Fine Art Printing as I wanted to create prints of my work that were the same size as my originals. At APLIS Fine Art Printing, I work with artists of every medium who want big beautiful prints the same size as or bigger than their originals without losing any clarity when enlarged. Through my digital capture technique, I create a base file that requires no upsampling, no interpolation of pixels. For example, I can digitally capture a 6×6 and print it out 24×24 and it remains clear without any fuzzy edges. My website lists my paper selection, sizes and prices.

The equipment and products of APLIS Fine Art Printing.

What is one of, or a combination of, most challenging pieces/projects that you’ve worked on?

Pieces that have a lot of carved lines can be tricky. If you only want to melt the very top layer of wax, you have to wait longer between fusing, or else the previous layers will get too hot and shift the piece. That takes a lot of patience and time. An overall challenge I find is to remind myself to move forward and not try to duplicate something I painted. It will drive you nuts! The only way I could possibly duplicate something is to really document every step I took; from the colors I created to what I laid down and in what order. I had to do this for a commission piece where there were two paintings that almost mirrored each other. I took pictures of each step and documented everything. I even had a little old school tape recorder… which would have been cool if I had used it, but I used my phone.

Feel all of that texture!

Where can people contact you? What’s the contact line for your printing business?

People can reach me by calling, texting, emailing, pigeon carrier, sky writing…. All my contact info is on my two websites.
AngieGillespie.com has images of my work and prints you can order!
APLISfineartprinting.com has information on digital capturing services, printing and prices. I always welcome questions about the process, and what APLIS Fine Art Printing can do for them. I love to help artists create multiple streams of income for themselves by selling prints of their work!

Follow Angela on Instagram: @angie.gillespie.artist

Can you use three words to describe your art and yourself?

Perseverance. Fearless. Optimistic.

“Bloom” 12″ x 36″
“Sea Foam” 24″ x 36″
Angela’s first piece using her beeswax technique.

It’s okay to make your own rules. I try to remember that when it comes to what I want to accomplish as an artist. I’m a huge believer in writing down goals. I have notebooks full ideas and plans, then I break it down and work on what I can accomplish now, months from now and years down the road. Every idea starts somewhere, some with giant leaps, others with baby steps. After taking a few years off and silencing my creative spirit, I found myself standing at the sidelines waiting to jump in; full of ideas and stuffed with inspiration, knowing one day, I’d paint with wax. I didn’t know what I’d create… I just had to let it all out, and remember it was okay to make my own rules.

 

ANGELA BEHRENDS: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

Meeting Angela was a wonderful experience! I not only enjoyed insight into her work, but made a new friend. I was surprised to discover several pieces of artwork around Sioux Falls, that have left a significant mark on me, are hers. I was delighted to have the chance to chat more in-depth about those subjects with the artist herself.

-Hannah

Before any questions were asked, Angela jumped right into talking about her work. 

In 2012, I had a solo exhibition. My work was right outside that really long gallery–that A Gallery–I got to have that gallery during the “Beauty and The Beast show.” I did kind of a reboot of the piece that was on the wall. It was all these little bags of clear perfect water, and they were kind of jewel-like. It was suppose to be like a power plant, that could conduct energy from one end of the wall to the other. The wall was close to 30 feet long. So, I sent all of the energy down to one end and then it gathered with the copper wires connecting all of those. It gathered in a mirror, and I had crocheted some copper wire and put a bunch of stuff around that mirror so that the energy would gather around these little wires and come into that. We set up the lights so that the round mirror would reflect the spot of light down onto the floor. It was hung at a height where most people could see themselves in it, but they could also see other parts of the show around them.

At the SD Art Museum until 7/23/2017

I really liked that idea, but when the opportunity for the “Women at Work” show came up, I’m like ‘you know, I think it should be an installation piece instead of, you know, just an object.’ And so, I put that one up. I put India ink into some of the water bags. So there are some that are clear and beautiful and the light doesn’t really refract, but it’s bent to shine spots on the wall from when the lights hit it. Some of them got a tint, and some of them didn’t. Some of them got a lot of ink so that they were just super black. All of the black is up here on the top of the installation,  so some of the lighter stuff is down below, and there’s a spot over here that’s the bright clear water. It’s about water quality and us needing to save that resource and pipelines, and fracking and the fail rate.

You’re probably familiar with the feathers and branches in the Washington Pavilion Visual Arts Center. So, that’s one of mine that’s in a collection now. As part of a collaboration with Post Pilgrim and the Sioux Falls Design Center, Jennifer White and I did a Final Friday with the chalkboards. As far as I know, the chalkboards are still up. That night there were people leaning up against the wall, and as soon as they walked away I would be over there with the chalk fixing it. I guess I’m just a little bit of a freak that way.

A few steps down the street from the Sioux Falls Design Center is the Shriver’s window. You don’t have to go inside the building to see it, it’s just the corner display window at 11th and Phillips. I’ve got that 18 foot raw canvas laying on the floor. I had that thing along with me from when I went on the camping trip that produced the “sold” pictures on the boards. It was a site in the South Jenny Lake in the shadow of the national park. I rolled the canvas out on my camp site, and I brought a little bit of tobacco. I had worked with tobacco before as a staining drying material, so  that ended up being the brown color. I made some bison on the canvas. Then I needed charcoal, so I kind of fished some stuff out of my camp fire.  Along with that installation, I had made these tripods out of branches. They were meant to hold the canvas up. When I went to install the thing, I had some engineering issues and it didn’t work. Now, they are kind of a backdrop, or forest to that installation. So you walk up to the window, and you look down to see the piece.

Piece at Shriver’s Square

I did a Final Friday that was in conjunction with the PechaKucha. You get 20 images and you get 20 seconds per image. You are presenting whatever ideas, artwork, whatever it is that you do and that you’re passionate about. You share that, and then it goes up on a website. I haven’t had the guts to go listen to mine. I was so busy with Jennifer getting the “Love or Money” show together that I didn’t spend a lot of time preparing the PechaKucha. Anyway, it’s out there on the Net for everybody to see!

(See her presentation at Pechakucha Sioux Falls, Vol. 22 )

Angela working on Love or Money show at the Post Pilgrim Gallery

MAST (Madison Area Stands Together) is a local group that formed after the presidential election last year. There was a lot of concern about the travel bans, and the Visa issues. I work at Dakota State University, and we’ve got a lot of international students and faculty members, too, who are from all over the world, and they’re suddenly not able to move about and come and do their jobs. Everything was all kind of scary. So, we held a candle light vigil for them, just to let them know that we care and are concerned, too. This group developed out of that sense of helplessness. It recently came up that they need to have a logo.  So, I don’t know if this [see below] is going to be their final design, but I proposed it and people seem to be fairly excited about it. It was important that there was this sturdy something. I wanted that awareness with the eyes and everything. Then also, the horns are not being used, but they could be, you know. It’s like this defensible possibility.  And black and white is pretty powerful.

You just answered several of my questions there before I could even get to them. I like it–this should be a great time! Are you from Madison? 

I’m from southwestern Minnesota. I got out of there as quickly as I possibly could. I went to college in central Minnesota, and then I went to the Twin Cities, and kind of bounced all over the place there. I was a little too distracted, so I went back to UMM–University of Minnesota, Morris–to finish college and I floundered around for another number of years, then I went to graduate school in Lincoln, Nebraska. After that I moved to Vancouver, Washington for 7 or 8 years, and then I moved to South Dakota.

So, was your degree centered around your artwork? 

Yes, my masters degree is in sculpture. My undergraduate work was a duel emphasis in sculpture and printmaking. I tried to continue with printmaking in graduate school, but it didn’t work out very well. I had a studio that I loved, but it was in this dumpy old building that they were going to tear down. But it was a good quarter mile from the print studios, so that was kind of tough to get stuff back and forth, and I didn’t have any storage space in the print area. I mean, for graduate students, you just kind of carve out your space. You know, it’s all self directed, and I was busy enough with sculpture.

So then, how long have you been in South Dakota? 

2009. So, it’s close to eight and a half years. I’ve been at Dakota State University for eight years, and I started out there with one 3-D Design class, but that wasn’t enough to pay my rent. So, I taught ESL for one semester.

Was at the Sioux Falls Design Center, from artists’ travel snapshots with “SOLD” banner

Cool! You’ve been here for a while then.  You have your artwork and teach, too? 

Yes. I am employed full-time as a lecturer of art at Dakota State University in the digital and arts design department. During the summers, I haven’t done it for a couple of years, but this year I’m working as a part-time naturalist at Lake Herman State Park in Walkers Point Recreational Area. It’s kinda cool. I get the opportunity to come into contact with lots of different  kinds of people. You know, especially with the DSU stuff with students, and faculty, and community. I always try to get my students to focus on something that’s outside of the classroom. It’s not just about earning a grade; I mean it’s important stuff, this visual communication. We’ve got so much screen time and everything. I make them do everything analog. They have to cut paper, they have to tear things and make collages.

I’m not too great with technology, so that style is perfect for how my mind works. 

Well, I kind of call myself a dinosaur. I have sort of actively resisted–I mean I do the things I’m supposed to do for my job. I just think [technology] is another medium you can work in. Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign; these are digital tools you can use, but you still need to have those basic design skills to make something descent. The MAST design that I made is cut paper. I started with drawing it on paper, and then cutting it out with an exact-o knife. Then I printed out the text that I wanted to have on there. I’m perfectly happy with designing the font, or the typeface, I should say. You have to have a sense of composition. You have to be able to make things communicate what they need to communicate. The digital image manipulation is not the end all of design skills. Yeah, I’m a dinosaur.

Magpie

You’ve already mentioned different inspirations that you have, do you have more that influence you? 

I think it’s vitally important that people connect with nature, and that has been so lacking. It’s like there’s this spiritual deficit, I think; maybe even like a sink hole. We get enough racing around, driving around looking at screens, typing things, you know. If you’re taking notes on a computer, you’re not making the same neural connections you would if you are writing with a pencil on paper, or drawing. You know, you have to have this physical connection with the stuff that you’re learning. It’s not as effective to just type things, and look at it on a screen. So, yes, there’s all this technology that we deal with, it is wonderful. There are things that give lots more efficiency, but do we really keep moving at that pace? It’s making everybody sick. Everybody’s not getting enough movement, enough exercise. It drives me crazy, and I’m in the middle of it, too. When I make something, installation work especially, when I make work I’m really careful about the path of the energy, and the path of the people in that energy. I work my ass off when I have the opportunity to put something up. Humility also has a place here. I’m always unsure about it, but I work as good as I can so that I can offer it as a gift to the people that go and see it. When I say I’ve got this show up and I want you to go see it, that’s like me with a little gift with a bow on it offering this experience, because I want to give that. I think it will do something, it will help somebody, or make them feel a certain way, or give them a moment of peace, or something like that. So, that’s my gift. I realize a lot of times when I’m saying, ‘go see the show’, and doing all that self promotion, it’s not self promotion to make a career for me. It’s that there’s a gift that I want to offer that’s not going to get unwrapped if you don’t go and see it.

Monotype prints “Cents”
“Walk Softly” presented in Love or Money show at the Post Pilgrim Gallery

Yeah, I like that point…where it’s just two-dimensional, and people just looking at something. I think sometimes people need that three-dimensional installation that’s actually intruding into their space. It’s very important, I agree.

So, it’s more experiential than something you would just look at. I think installation, and sculpture–three-dimensional stuff–has an easier inlet. There’s a lot of paintings out there, but there’s probably not a lot of paintings that will really pull you in and offer you the kind of physical, or emotional, experience that an environment can. That said, I’m not trying to make judgments on things that I don’t respond to.

Now, how can people contact you? Do you have a website?

Facebook is just fine. My profile picture is me kissing a fake bison. I do have a blog site. I call it an images only blog site, but I haven’t done a really good job of keeping up with stuff on that. So, most of the stuff is older. That is a place where they could go and see things.

www.angelabehrends.blogspot.com

“Land” 6′ 10″ made with artists’ hair

Can you describe your work, art and everything else, along with who you are in three words, or I should say, in three “sections”? 

Art, nature, joy. Those are the things that I seek, and seek to share. I want to add something for people who are stopping themselves because “I can’t draw, I can’t do this, or I can’t do that.” It’s really, really, really important for your heart and soul to just make stuff, and experience stuff. You know, get away from your computer for a little while, and connect with people and connect with nature. Really, really, really important. That’ll make us happier, and it’ll make the world a better place…make it easier to live in.

JERRY FOGG: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

“The Return”

Dan: Where are you from, Jerry?

Jerry: Well, I’m practically from here. I’ve been here since the 70’s. Initially, I grew up North, outside of Chamberlain, on Crow Creek reservation there.

And have you lived downtown here or-

Geez. Being the nomad I am, I’ve lived everywhere in this town.

Do you have a recollection of what downtown was like, art scene wise back in the day? Was it existent, nonexistent?

Pretty much nonexistent. I mean, back when I moved here, 41st St. was the end of town. There was nothing on that side of 41st St. I wasn’t really involved that much in the arts when I first moved here. It was mostly trial and survival tactics. Trying to pay bills and everything else, find work, and stay alive. As time went on, I have discovered that it’s come a long way, though, in its own right. Since the 70’s, there is a lot more involvement in art businesses, galleries, constructive people and such than there was back then. A lot of businesses are opening their doors, allowing artwork to come in and be presented.

I feel like if you are an artist and you wanted to go into a business years ago, you were almost kind of looked at like an oddball. It’s kind of like, you want to do what? You wanna put that where?Coffee shops have always been around, but within the last five, ten years with generation X and millennials that are hanging out at coffee shops…that’s how you conduct business, and also sell your business, too.

Exactly. It also gives the proprietor a little bit more of a draw to certain people who want to come and see artwork.

So, tell me, education wise, did you go to school for art, or is it kind of self-taught?

I went to school for art, but basically it still turned out to be self-taught. It always ended up that way. I was always rebellious. I’ve always wanted to do a certain style of art, a certain type of art. My mind was set on that. And when somebody else…an art teacher or somebody…was trying to teach me something else…“Oh, okay, alright.”

Native Soul: Jerry Fogg Tribal Art facebook page, 2017

So tell me, what drives you to create art? What inspires you?

My culture. Native American. I try to prove myself as…long ago I used to sing and dance as Native American to prove myself, and as I got older and moved into a bigger city where it wasn’t really that much of a genre anymore, I had to turn to something to still maintain that I am Native American. Just seemed like the artwork was, not the easiest, but the best way to do it because it brought forth the subject that I was trying to get across. Doing Native American oriented art, people look at it and say, “Wow, this guy’s Native American.” And when they see me, then it’s a whole different story. “You did this?” Blue eyed and light skin, they don’t think you’re Native. “We thought you’d be brown skin, with long brown hair.”

“Clear Blue Prairie” (12 x 16″) 2015

I can maybe hear it a little bit in the voice, though.

You never get rid of that accent.

How often do you create your art?

Not answering your question, I can say as much as possible. I do try to get stuff out there. Right now, the kind of artist I am, I’m working with storytelling. That storytelling from culture and legends and stories of our people…there’s so much of it, and I try to work with that as much as I can. But I also like to hop on the bandwagon of what’s going on right now.

The pipeline.

Exactly, the pipeline. And anything else that goes on. The land grabbing, or accomplishing certain spiritual feelings and ceremonies, and everything else that goes on. Like, Good Earth, Blood Run, that’s kind of going on right now. Hiawatha Indian Insane Asylum; I had to be part of that. That’s one of the big stories. Just things that go on today. I try to push that artwork out there, and get something done to represent that I am knowledgeable of it, and part of it.

“Snake in the River” 2012

Do you find that when you direct attention to events like that, do you feel like it brings more of the public eye to it?

Exactly. It’s me trying to put the word out. Like when they were trying to find funding for Blood Run, and buy the land and stuff, I was putting together pieces of art that people would come to see and talk about that, and I would tell them [about it]. And all of a sudden it came to be, “Get out the checkbook. If you aren’t going to buy my piece, donate to them, the purpose.” And it works! Unbelievably, it works.

So, kind of rolling along with creation stuff, do you have a favorite piece? Like when I take photographs, I think at the time that’s the best work I’ve done, then the next thing I do tends to be a little bit better than that. Do you kind of have a favorite?

Well, as an artist you’re always trying to make that ultimate piece. It’s never there, but you keep trying and trying. Just like a photographer, he’s looking for that ultimate shot. But yeah, I’ve gotten several pieces that I stand back, and I look at, and I hated to let go. But you got to. I wouldn’t be able to actually point my finger and say this one’s my best. In the majority of my personal experience, I’ve got a full amount that I really, really like. Still, at the back of my mind I’m hoping to come out with that one that blows them all away.

You’re always depending on the public, too. This piece I would say, personally, I like this piece so much, and not so many people like it. But this piece over here, I think is really, really blasé, and everybody likes it. So, you would almost have to consider that as your best piece that you’ve done, because it’s the most successful.

“Journey by Blue Moon” (13 x 5″) 2014

It’s an interesting perspective, too, because often what you perceive as your best work (that you put your heart and soul and blood and tears into) is met with very little reception. Then you put something else out, or somebody else comes along, and says that’s the greatest thing ever seen. And it’s kind of like, are we seeing the same thing? Kind of continuing along with favorites there, do you have a favorite art show?

Down the line, I’ve been to very great art shows. The one that I stick with that is dedicated to me, I feel, as much as I am to it is Augustana Artists of the Plains. It’s my go-to place. I’ve won four out of five years Best of Show. That’s just always been a good show for me. It’s gotten a good reputation out in the city. I have a lot of people who just wait to see what I’ve got up next year.

Talk of the town. That’s a good thing, actually.

Yeah, publicity is always a good thing. And followers are great. Just awesome.

I remember I heard a quote years ago that said, “Passion breeds followers.” So, do you have any favorite materials when it comes to creating art that you like to use?

Leather. Leather is my friend. And just old, traditional things that have been with my ancestors, my people, over many centuries. I try not to reproduce them in that direction, but utilize the image of them. I don’t use plastic. I don’t use fake this or imitation that. All my pictures have original things like bones, actual bone beads. Or if I do a tobacco tie, there’s actual tobacco in there, it’s not just a little rock. And I try to be straightforward that everything is real in my artwork. For instance, like this one here, they call the Pipeline the Black Snake. That’s actually a snake in there. That’s not a fake one, that’s an actual snake. It’s just the way that I am, I’m a stickler for that. If it was arrowheads, it wouldn’t be something that was mass-produced in a factory. It would be actual arrowheads that I’ve searched for, or were given by my people to use and things like that. It just seems like it makes the picture more unique in its own way, and original. Like I always say, every picture is one-of-a-kind. I don’t ever reproduce it.

“Buffalo Warrior Society” (7 x 10″) 2015

That’s the thing with art, as well, is that it’s too easy to replicate. Everybody wants a copy of something. Like a poster of the Statue of Liberty or something like that, it’s not the original. I’ve never understood, personally, the need for something that’s replicated over and over.

Well, like a dream catcher. Somebody makes 10,000 dream catchers in a year’s time. And they’re all the same dream catcher. You can go from your house down the block… “Oh, I’ve got one of those in my house! I’ve got one of them, too. The person down the block has one, too.”

I try to stipulate to where when you take this home and hang it on your wall, you aren’t going to go across town or across state and see the same thing hanging on someone else’s wall. It’s just one. That’s kind of what I pride myself in.

Do you have an inspirational quote that kind of gives you a little bit of fire to go out and create art? Or is there a mantra that you, perhaps, live by?

I always tell myself, if I can’t sell it, I’ll give it away. There’s many different people who get me flowing; their artwork, and stuff I’ve lived and learned from. There’s a lot of different people who have talked to me about certain things. But a quote…not really. Not really at all.

Native Soul: Jerry Fogg Tribal Art facebook page, 2017

Maybe, perhaps, a saying that you maybe say yourself or someone has said to you in years past.

I remember I was in a dart tournament a long time ago, and I can reframe this to art as being in a gallery or being in an art show. They interviewed me one time and asked, “Well, what do you think about all this?” And I just said, “Just proud to be here.” Win, lose, draw, whatever. Just proud to be here.

That’s incredible. Kind of going along with that, do you happen to have any advice for people who want to sell their artwork, or haven’t found a way to sell it?

To me, I can look at something that just makes your eyes cross, but it’s still art. No matter what you want to say about it. No matter if you hate it or you like it, or you love it, or you want to burn it, or whatever. It’s still art, because it comes from somebody trying to say something. I just tell people who are doing really great and beautiful art, you’ve got it, it’s there. Go out and flaunt it. And to those who kind of hold back, try to get your confidence up and go out there. You never know until you try.

“Headed for the Clearing” (32 x 18″) 2014

What do you find is, perhaps, the hardest part of being an artist?

The hardest part? I think the most difficult is having too many ideas. Too many ideas at once. Like right now, as you and me are sitting here, I got 60 pieces in my mind. I have materials and everything to finish them, and I’m just…gah, what do I do first? And finding the time to do it.  That’s one thing…you gotta just take a deep breath and settle down, and just start doing them. Slowly, even. A lot of times I get in my mind, I got to get all 60 of these done, and it just bugs me. It’s probably about the biggest brick wall I could run up against; trying to do too much at once. Sometimes some things don’t come out right when you’re trying to do that.

There’s a quote I heard years ago, and it was from the lead singer of Coldplay, Chris Martin. Chris was asked, “So, when you listen to your music do you hear flaws, do you hear things that you could have fixed?” He responds by saying, every time I listen to it there’s things that I hear that I wish that I could have done differently. And he goes, once you hand that album over to be finished, you’re done with it. Because I feel that as an artist, the longer you hold onto something…you go, I’ll tweak this, tweak that, and before you know it a month becomes a year and it’s not put out.

Exactly. You’re delaying yourself. One thing I’ve noticed in the city of Sioux Falls here, it really surprises me that when I go from one show that so many people have commented and seen what I got (and I hadn’t made anything different), and I take it and I place it over in another place in town…you’ve got a whole other mass of people who come in that have never seen it. What I’m trying to say is, to anybody that wants to go out there, never fret that what you have won’t go good over in other places. Everybody just doesn’t come over and see your work in town at one show. It happens everywhere.

So, we talked about the hardest thing about being an artist, but tell me, what’s one thing you love about being an artist?

Sitting back and looking at something you just created. It’s not overwhelming, but it does give a euphoria that you feel. Wow, I got this, I did this. And you put it out there, and people do appreciate it as much as you do. That’s what’s really good about it. It’s what makes you feel happy about it, when you think this is good I’ve made this, I’m happy with it. Then you go out and somebody else sees it, and expresses their feelings to you that they like it, too. It’s really good.

What do you love about Sioux Falls?

Sioux Falls is kind of a diverse town, and it’s getting more and more with every year. Like the arts, there’s a lot of people who like the arts; be it music, be it dance, be it orchestra, be it concerts…sports, that’s another one. So, there is a big draw to many outlets. And I think an artist does have a lot of places to present their art, and people come. Maybe 10 to 15 people…and you think that’s not very many…but you keep it up, and you show your stuff in 30 places and there’s been 15 at each. Add that up, you do the numbers, you got a good crowd going.

Or the word-of-mouth, too. Come check out this exhibit, or this piece.

Oh, yeah. And people respond, too, if you have a card or Facebook. You give it to them and you think, oh well they just took it, to heck with it. Then you see them. They do get on Facebook, and look at your stuff. They respond, which is great.

“Across the Universe” 2015

We talked about what you love about Sioux Falls, is there anything that you would do differently with the art community? Things maybe you would change?

What I would like to see done is…if they could possibly get the grant or the money for it somehow…is to build an enormous art center. And don’t make it way out-of-town; put it somewhere where people can get to it. Once it’s done have people run it to where it is Sioux Falls artists, and just have Sioux Falls artists in it.

For the people, by the people.

Yeah, for the people by the people. If you live five miles outside the city limits, sorry. Sorry, get your own.

And have that. And sell and get a percentage off of it to keep the building running. And put 40 artists in there…40, 50, 60 artists. They don’t have to have their whole collection in there. Three, four pieces a piece. They can switch them out, and everything else. Get the tracks really moving, and then get it really exposed to the public and stuff. I think that it would work for the simple reason that people do love the arts.

I mean, that could also double as a performing center for concerts, plays.

Oh, yeah. If it’s a big enough building. See, what I was trying to get away from is like Pavilion and other places, they have like two or three artists that are there for two, three months. Why not have 80 artists with five pieces a piece in there, and have it go permanently back and forth. Grow, or decrease, multiply.

Like a seasonal thing kind of, too.

Yeah. People can create new work, and bring it in, and have it advertised. A new work is at the Sioux Falls Arts…or what ever you want to call it. Keep it to artists who are active, and are still doing artwork right now as we speak.

Kind of wrapping things up here. Do you have any shows coming up?

I’m kind of booked up at least until August 2017.

 Oh, wow.

That’s kind of the way I feel I have to be, because if people say where’s your gallery…I can’t afford a gallery. I can’t afford a studio. I got to keep my artwork out there. The city of Sioux Falls is my studio. That’s what I figure, anyway, because it’s always out there somewhere.

I like that.

“Across the Universe” 2015

One thing I like to try to do is donate. There certain people who like to call me or contact me and want me to donate. I’m all for it. Behavioral health places, Muscular Dystrophy, Children’s Kidney hospital and stuff. I participate with them. I give as much as I can, because I know if I was in trouble…

Do you have any examples of giving someone something like that that has turned their life around or lifted their spirits?

I haven’t really done much for individual people. But Behavioral Health, when they had their auction out there, it was great. You actually see the people who are, not only out there bidding on your artwork, they are out there talking to doctors, psychiatrists and stuff about betterment. Certain cities need places like that, and they need artists and artwork to be a part of that. Music, whatever you have. It’s been successful as far as I know, because I get my foot in the door. It’s always good to donate a piece of artwork to an association that’s 10,000 employees.

You get good exposure.

You get your name out there.

That’s one of the hard projects that I have not really faced, yet. I would have to say within the four, maybe five state area is as far as I’ve gone. I’ve had tourists come through and say, you need to bring this stuff to the coast, or you got to bring this stuff down south. I had one guy, at a show here in town looking for a long time. He said I’m from Santa Fe, and they don’t have nothing like your stuff down there. “You got a bring your stuff down there, but before you do, add a couple zeroes.” All right, sure, sure.

I made a trip over to New York about two weeks ago to photograph a couple who is going to get married back in South Dakota. And you think…that’s a lot of work. But making that trip…you kind of tell people that I was willing to do this, I’m willing to do it again.

That’s one thing that always scares me half to death is taking out every penny I have, and going to a place like Los Angeles, and not selling a thing. But a lot of people say that’s a chance you have to take.

I mean if you’re kind of self analytical, sometimes doubter, maybe a little OCD kind of like me a little bit…it’s easier said than done.

Oh, yeah, it is. The thing of it is, one of these days I am going to take that chance. I’m going to load up and just head out for a month, and hopefully come back empty.

Talking about artwork, not pockets, right?

[laughter] Yeah. If you plan your trip to where you saved up for it, just call it a vacation. And if you sell anything, that’s just gravy.

“Wall Travelers”

Jerry’s work can be found on Facebook at Native Soul: Jerry Fogg Tribal Art.

GENEVA COSTA: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

Geneva Costa may have been born and raised on a farm in Montana, but we’re just going to go ahead and call her one of Sioux Falls’ own. Having called both the East and West Coast her home, Costa is now living back in Sioux Falls with her husband Brogan [Green Dream Screen Printing] and two cats. Having known Costa for several years, I was delighted for the chance to delve more deeply into her process. Costa uses oil paints to create photorealistic works, and more recently, using that process to distort the reality of her subject matter. Autobiographical in nature, Costa remains inspired through gender, politics and current affairs. Her persistence in achieving her goals has always been a great inspiration, as is her dedication to keeping her concepts challenging and engaging. I wish her immense luck with her goal of spreading her artwork around the nation. See her work at genevacosta.com ~Hannah
Continue reading GENEVA COSTA: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

DYLAN JACOBSON: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

In his book “The Dilbert Principle,” cartoonist Scott Adams shares some wisdom that resonates with those in pursuit of an artistic life: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Pursuing success in creative fields comes with more than an abundance of failures, mistakes, and anxiety-ridden expectations of the artistic self.  Often, we mask these apparent missteps in an attempt to appear as infallible masters of our craft. 

In efforts to stay focused and productive, Sioux Falls comic artist Dylan Jacobson presents his nerves and creative bloopers directly to his viewers through vlogging, blogging, and the very work that he creates. Dylan’s honesty about the hardships of creating brings a sense of humanity and approachability to the artistic career. ~Jordan

Continue reading DYLAN JACOBSON: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

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

Continue reading EM NGUYEN: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

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

Continue reading SHARON WEGNER-LARSEN: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

REINA OKAWA: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

 

Marc Wagner

Reina Okawa has an eye about her. There is an attention to detail, and an alertness to fluidity in her work. She credits her methods to inspiration from her Japanese roots, and her childhood in Venezuela. Using a variety of material, she creates bright, playful compositions, abstractions from nature in a mixed media context. Her work pulls a person in, each layer possessing lovely detail, intricacies feeling like tiny little secrets between the viewer and the piece. Reina’s work is thoughtful, a direct reflection of her personality, a warmth emanating from an unassuming soul. It was a pleasure to hear her thoughts, and even more so to share them. Never change, friend. You are a treasure. ~Amy

Continue reading REINA OKAWA: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

SHAINE SCHROEDER: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

Michelle St. Vrain CoverI was introduced to Shaine Schroeder’s work several years before I met him. I had been invited over to a friend’s apartment that I had not been to before, and about two steps into the place, three words slipped out of my mouth. What-the-fuck. Every plausible space on the wall was covered in art, no more than an inch or two between each piece. Upon closer inspection, I soon realized it was all the same artist. Every single last piece held together by the same stylistic semblance. Although this was the largest Schroeder collection I have encountered in a private collection, it is certainly not the last time I would be surprised, and a little bit startled, by the loyalty of his patrons. You rarely see just one Shaine Schroeder piece in a house, there are always at least two, and sometimes more than 20 in one location. After meeting Shaine last summer, I soon understood the appeal.

It’s hard not to like Shaine. He seems to have a perpetual secret, a slew of wonder deeply compacted into his constant half-cocked smile. He is quick-witted with a colorful tongue, and always seems happy to share a story or two. His bold personality is directly reflected in his work. His paintings are impossible not to look at, bright colors and varied mark making pull the eyes around the canvas, the subject matter revealing itself even more after you learn the title of the piece. He is prolific in production, and grounded in his business savvy.  He has made large efforts to help those less fortunate than himself, donating proceeds from art sales to a variety of organizations around the Sioux Falls area over the years. Shaine has a love for this town, good and bad, and I think it’s safe to say Sioux Falls could say the same. ~Amy

Continue reading SHAINE SCHROEDER: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

JEFF BALLARD: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

lance (2)

Jeff Ballard is searching. Like so many other souls, he is seeking that inexplicable trail, the elusive marriage of space and time, and our purpose within it. Comforted by solitude and the ever-pulsing company of his own thoughts, Ballard keeps himself open to whatever the universe may be trying to whisper into his subconscious. He quells the unknown with his study of relationships, seeking out intent and purpose between loved ones, nature and even God. As an artist, Ballard’s work is exploratory, his paintings giving reference to the struggle of just trying to make sense of it all. There is a painful awareness of the flux in life, if only to give fuel to further push through to clarity, and give an understanding glance to the metaphysical. 

Jeff Ballard was raised in Sioux Falls, and received his MFA in painting from the University of South Dakota. He teaches art at Dakota State University and the University of Sioux Falls, where he is also the Gallery Director. Ballard is a co-founder of the Sioux Falls publication “The Local Artist,” a biannually released magazine featuring ten local artists a year.* Chatting with Ballard was a delightful, moving experience, and I am thankful for the opportunity. ~Amy

*The Local Artist is accepting submissions for their 2016 issue until October 19th. Apply here.

Continue reading JEFF BALLARD: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW