Category Archives: Inspired Interviews

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

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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

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JEFF BALLARD: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

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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.

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ZACH DEBOER: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

Michelle St. Vrain Cover (1)

Zach DeBoer has been a good friend of mine since college. Although he’s several years younger than me, he’s always been the mature one in our friendship. He is a planner, someone who rallies the masses, acting as a source of guidance for the less motivated. The kind of person who cleans his housemate’s room for him if he’s feeling bored or particularly… particular that day. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, but the chances are he’ll be able to make you smile while he’s doing it. 

Zach’s work is reflective of his personality. Upon first view, you are met with bright, bold colors, much akin to the warmth of his attitude and outlook. Further inspection reveals concise placement, and well conceived content.  Work is created with purpose, and executed from start to framed finished. Zach works methodically, and carries his creative sense through to his business savvy. Although he received his education in Printmaking and Art Education, Zach is currently operating his own gallery in downtown Sioux Falls. The month of August actually marks the one year anniversary for Exposure Gallery and Studios being open under it’s new management. Zach has become integral in the Sioux Falls community, and I look forward to continuing to watch him grow. I’m proud of you, buddy! ~Amy Continue reading ZACH DEBOER: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

HECTOR CURRIEL – AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

Michelle St. Vrain CoverI can’t say that I’ve been to too many places outside of our large country, but I have been to Peru. Many people dream of going to Peru for its rich archeology and deep-seeded culture, but I think you should get down there for the people. I find that the people I know from Peru are generous with their lives. Peruvians are even more generous with their hugs and smiles than our “midwest nice” folks are. If you don’t believe me, you should introduce yourself to the wonderful Peruvian-Americans living and loving in Sioux Falls. Or better yet, get down there!

If you can’t see yourself flying to Lima anytime soon, continue reading, as we’re going to introduce you to Hector. Hector Curriel grew up in Peru, moved to the United States in 2001, and joined our fine community in 2006. He is an illustrator, painter, author, and professional political cartoonist. But, that doesn’t really get at the meat of whom Hector is. He is a businessman, a husband, and artist who believes in community. He is quick to hug, quick to smile, and sensitive. My favorite type. ~Jess

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KEVIN CARAWAY: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

lance-3I’ve always envied quiet people. The type of people that absorb rather than spew, the seemingly solemn ingestion of everything around them. There is a thoughtfulness that surrounds the eyes, a focused energy that scoops in every detail provided. Don’t get me wrong, quiet people are not emotionless zombies–quite the contrary. They display a marriage of curiosity and wisdom, the silence attached to thought. 

Kevin Caraway is this special kind of quiet. He embodies the stillness that comes with observation and continuous thought. He has a soft articulation with his words, and speaks in such a way that you find yourself leaning closer, wanting to catch every word. We sat down with Kevin and discussed where he draws his technique from, the artists that inspire him, and how Sioux Falls could continue to grow. Take this time to reflect on how you approach your own learning, and the impression you leave behind. ~Amy

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TRISH MAYER: AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

lance-2An active mind is an active spirit. People repress their inhibitions, and rob themselves of the opportunity of creation and discovery. You’re tired from work. The kids need a bath. Maybe you’ll have time this weekend. It’s easy to put things off until they exist merely as a floating drift in the recess of your forgotten thoughts. Trish Mayer is not one of those people. A self described butterfly, Mayer opens herself to those whims, those bits of intrigue that lead to actualized ideas. Her work is bright, cheerful, and reflects the awe and wonder she puts forth to seemingly every aspect of her life. She reminds me of an old friend, someone with a warm familiarity in her voice, and a constant smile. Read on to learn about her methods and inspiration, and what gives her that extra special zest in her life. ~Amy

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LANCE JESCHKE – AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

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It’s not often that people get to do their dream job. Often, there are compromises, subtle stains in the perfect picture you’ve painted of your future self. This is not necessarily a bad thing; often times the things we have to do, make us love the things we get to do even more. I admire the  people who make the leap, and put forth the gumption to play their hand at fate. For Lance Jeschke, he’s done it twice. He began touring with his band after high school, and kept up with the non-stop lifestyle for nearly twenty years. This background in the music business gave Jeschke a proficient business sense, which combined with his passion and talent, has launched his career as a visual artist.

Jeschke creates vibrant, colorful works that spawn from a deep, imaginative love within. Coming from a line of artists in the family, Jeschke continues a tradition of expression and fortitude, no longer creating pieces for himself, but to support his own family. Jeschke is a Royal Talens ambassador, and has shown his work in Europe. His career has progressed at such a rate due to his dedication to both his family and his craft, and can serve as inspiration to anyone out there on the verge of making their own leap into the daunting unknown. ~Amy

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LIZ BASHORE HEEREN – AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

LizHeerenI don’t like to admit when I’m intimidated. It seems unnecessary to show that type of weakness, to evaporate any sliver of feigned confidence I may be portraying. There are internalized rules that we each hold ourselves accountable to, certain routes we explore to make us stronger, smarter… more safe. It is the individuals that step beyond these constraints that I applaud, and equally admire. The people who adhere themselves to a path of growth, that embrace struggle to enlighten their perspective in some reaching way. The people who step away from their own shadow, if only in an effort to teach someone else about the light.

Liz Bashore Heeren intimidates me, and for good reason. She is poised, polite, and professional. Heeren is an artist, a professor, a gallery director, a mother… Each role presumably as demanding, and rewarding, as the next. Growing up in an artistic family, Hereen was not a stranger to the role of an artist, and the realities of pursuing your dreams in a thoughtful and practical way. Heeren continues to use her long love of science to pursue that beautifully whimsical line between human and synthetic, the marriage of elemental juxtaposition. Her take on this perspective reminds me to give pause, investigate my world in the immediate sense, and every now and then, step into the light. ~Amy

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SOLOMON CARLSON – AN INSPIRING INTERVIEW

SolomonCarlsonI have an incredible appreciation for the self-taught artist. It is a daunting task to enter a world in which everyone else can seem to have a leg up, just based on their schooling or connections. The self-taught artist is the lone wolf, the one working even harder behind the scenes to validate their efforts. There requires an overwhelming amount of dedication to follow through with your goals, and an even larger learning curve when you go at it on your own fruition. Solomon Carlson understands the value of experimentation, and embodies the work ethic of a self-motivated individual on a path for great things. 

Using illustration as a starting point, Carlson pushes that skill further on a daily basis, working indiscriminately with a variety of mediums in an attempt to continue his own education. He is involved in numerous side projects, including launching a board game design, starting the Sioux Falls Sketch Squad, and creating an illustrated novel. His work is playful and intriguing, with many pieces carrying their own interesting back-story. He understands the necessity of an active community, and reaches out to the younger artistic community to add their own voice to Sioux Falls. Carlson is polite, thoughtful and genuinely interested in what people have to say. He finds value in connecting with those of similar interests, and takes an active approach to help those around him grow. Please read on, and reflect on how you push your own interests, how you are accomplishing those dreams deep within… it’s never to late to start the rest of your life! ~Amy

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