Finding Clarity in Community
This past First Friday I had the pleasure of battling a hellacious head cold, so I chose to keep my attendance to two receptions for the evening. Notepad and tissues in tow, I first headed to Monks House of Ale Repute to check out the “Skulls and Beers” reception for Les Cotton and Marc Wagner. This collection featured drawings and prints of all things cool: pizza, beer, skateboarding, a smattering of super heroes and even some celebrities (including a very haggard Mickey Mouse.) The artists’ work is incredibly complimentary to each other, with both featuring bold colors and patterns, and offering minute details that reward the viewer for lingering just a few seconds longer.
Cotton and Wagner are both adept illustrators who push the playful realm of creation, and often feature subject matter that keeps things light and fun. The guys even put together a zine to hand out to the early attendees at their show! This preparedness was reflected in the presentation as well. I feel that Monk’s gallery was used to their advantage, and the guys arranged their work in a way where each section almost felt like a mini-series; a different experience every couple of feet. This helped highlight the varied drawing styles used, all while reinforcing the cohesiveness of the show.
I have only gotten to know these two men in the past year or so, but I have enjoyed watching their work develop, and see their progression through different projects and ideas. Along with a handful of other artist friends in Sioux Falls, we are part of an Artist Critique group that meets bi-monthly to share work and receive feedback. Through these critiques I have had the opportunity to watch the evolution of both of these artists, and feel confident that one should expect a lot more to be coming from both of them in the future. Until then… stop by Monks to check out their show. It will be running through the end of April.
After leaving Monks it was time to trek over to Vishnu Bunny’s Third Eye Gallery. This show featured artwork from Terry Bittner, Robert Bruce, Kevin Caraway and Brendan Parks, all of whom showcased various forms of painting. Parks offered dark and somewhat moody oils, which transitioned nicely to Bittner’s acrylic work, which was presented in a variety of mismatched and sometimes elaborate frames. Caraway showed eight paintings, titled 925, which were displayed in a diptych fashion. These paintings presented his interpretation of the “9 to 5” routine of working, and the emotions that come with the rewards and frustrations of employment–dazed faces emitting plumes of steam from their skulls, visceral remains depleted from the tumultuous exhaustion of living.
Along with the exhaustion comes the obligation of employment, and with the exception of Bruce, all of the featured artists currently work at Parker’s Bistro downtown. I thought that this would be a unique opportunity to look for any correlation between the works. The bond a person has with a coworker is often a strange, pseudo friendship centered around the fact that you see each other on a regular basis and have to deal with the same (sometimes junky) work experiences. There may not have been any connecting themes at the show, but the important representation of a collective effort should not be overlooked. These coworkers found each, and used common interests to put together enough work to have a show. That is an incredible opportunity!
Attending these shows left me with a resonating theme of collaboration and community. The Sioux Falls art scene is ever-developing thanks to the interest and efforts of those in our community, and it is our job as a body to support artists of all mediums. It is evenings like First Friday where an individual is awarded the opportunity to have an inside look at this town joining forces. We are all we’ve got–so why not do it together?
Amy Jarding is a visual artist living in Sioux Falls and a board member for JAM.
(top photo taken by Amy; bottom photo taken from Vishnu Bunny’s First Friday Facebook event page)