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.
“Cracked Open” the Pavilion
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.
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
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!
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→
I greatly admire those who love fall. I try really hard to get into the spirit of the season. There are certainly things I can appreciate: the yummy coffee drinks and hot cocoa, the pretty colors of the leaves, and after a difficult few months, a welcomed sense of change. But in all honesty, the shortening days and dropping temperatures get to me. And on a chilly, dark October First Friday, I didn’t venture outside of the Washington Pavilion. Even so, the Pavilion was bursting with life, and lots of new and intriguing exhibits to be explored!
This exhibit was really hard for me to write about. Why? Because it was so intense, deeply intimate, and above all, raw. Part of me even questioned if I should be writing about it at all. Of course, one could argue that all art is deeply intimate. Art is self-expression in the truest sense, so what makes this exhibit any different? Shearing the Shepherd is a vulnerable and truthful portrayal of a man’s grief for the loss of his father. The artist uses audio-visual media to bring his experiences of grief to life in a way that is crude and authentic. Standing and viewing this exhibit, I felt like I was crashing a private wake. As someone who lost a parent at a young age, and recently lost a close grandparent, this art felt deeply familiar to me. This exhibit will be different for everyone who views it because everyone has had different experiences with grief. For me, I was deeply uncomfortable. I felt it in my bones, and I cried. And above all, it was a healing experience for me, to see something that I could relate to so genuinely. No matter how grief has or hasn’t touched your life, I think everyone can get something from visiting this deep, and important exhibit.
Deep Sea Imaginarium by Steve Bormes
Stepping into the Deep Sea Imaginarium by Steve Bormes is like entering a cross between an alien universe, and a child’s fantasy world. Bormes spent two years sculpting 101 alienesque fish from old objects and lights. Light plays an integral part in this exhibit. Multicolored lights set the scene in this underwater world, and the fish themselves glow from within: reds, greens, blues and purples. Of his work, Bormes says, “I combine light with objects born of mid-century engineering to create pieces that celebrate the inventions of the past, and transcend a static presentation of antiques and found objects.” He goes on to add, “Every decision I make as an artist is dictated by light.” Bormes is not simply an artist, though, but a story-teller. For each fish he sculpted, he also created humorously fitting common and scientific names for the “species,” as well as whimsical poems that reveal something about what each species is like. Deep Sea Imaginarium is where art meets the fantastical, the whimsical, the downright weird. It’s marvelous.
Terry Mulkey creates art that is both easy to look at, and rich in meaning. He works layer by layer using abstract forms and simple, limited color to achieve a sense of balance. “Drawing upon impulses both unconscious and calculated,” he says in his artist statement, “I move and alter lines and fields of color, acting and reacting to forms until the composition expresses a state of harmony.” The shapes and colors balance each other out, giving them a feel that is peaceful and almost zen. Even the way that the compositions are arranged in the gallery seems to have been chosen so as to balance the colors and tones on each wall. His works are all very bold in their plainness, yet delicate in their simplicity. They seem almost paradoxical by nature, a true testament to the harmony that Mulkey was able to achieve.
Along with a full slate of new exhibits at the Pavilion, downtown was buzzing with the annual Art and Wine Walk, as well as Sioux Falls Design Week projects.
Before adjectives started rolling, my immediate thought upon walking into Post Pilgrim Art Gallery was, sweeeeeet. The gallery space has an edgy, clean, raw, industrial, underground feel. A caliber all its own, with prime Native art, and a badass logo to boot. (Gah, I love that logo.)
After introducing myself, and complementing Jennifer White [Post Pilgrim’s curator and owner] on the space, she was quick to show me what she had been up to already that morning. She laid 4 paintings out on the floor next to her easel. It wasn’t quite 10 o’clock. The only thing I had managed to complete by that point in the morning were a few strokes of eyeliner. One thing was immediately clear, this chick had hustle. Not only that, she had a passion that sparked a fire in her belly, and ignited her entire being. I knew I was going to love doing this interview.
Located in the lower level of Last Stop CD Shop on East 10th Street, Post Pilgrim Art Gallery’s mission is to celebrate Native heritage with the work of established and emerging Native artists. It’s filling a void Sioux Falls desperately needs filled, and with its grand opening just this past April, it has a bright future ahead. I’m excited to see where White takes it. Continue reading POST PILGRIM GALLERY→
Art teachers are blessed in Sioux Falls, said Sherri Sherard, art educator at Edison Middle School. They are given leeway, and are able to be creative in how they teach and in what they teach.
That creative allowance shows in the array of tools and materials that line Sherard’s art supply room shelves. Students in her classroom are able to experience a wide range of artistic trades and crafts. Like many art educators know, not every student is going to be an artist. However, as Sherard notes, at least they gain the experience and process of creating certain things, like using a loom to weave. Sherard’s lessons are not just a practice in technique, they are woven with culture and history.
Art is about the passion. But it’s undeniable that the more we earn from it, the more we can focus on building it not only as a craft, but as a business. There are so many of us ramping up our artwork, we’re starting to reach out to turn it into commissions and other paid work.
Most potential clients work with me on comics or illustration projects, but recently I was approached about an animation project. My excitement over jumping into something I haven’t done in a while set me up for a sloppy client interaction. I was hungry for work and didn’t prepare myself for the best interaction. This mentality isn’t uncommon.
As children, it is not unusual to find fascination with animals. These creatures are a source to relate to, innocent beings living through the dichotomy of coexistence with man. To me, it makes sense to be drawn to the innocence and wonder of just… being. Children hold this magical quality to them, this ability to approach life with unbridled awe. Life has hopefully not begun to teach it’s hard lessons, to discern one’s path. In the end, we are all drinking the same water, breathing the same air. One should not be so quick to discern the hierarchy of existence.
I wish I had known Michelle St. Vrain as a child. I imagine her exploring through the dense trees of Kentucky, followed by a small body of animals; bunnies hopping at her feet, butterflies flitting above her hair in a blurry crown. This is a delightful image to hold in my mind, but I am quick to point out that Michelle is not some dainty maiden traipsing in the woods with Bambi. She is a strong-willed and mindful soul, and uses her personal beliefs as a point of exploration in her work. Michelle fosters a deep compassion for all living creatures, and continuously develops that connection. Using images of animals, or at least parts of them, she creates moments of interaction with these creatures in their various forms. Instead of focusing on the variance of our existence with the animal kingdom, she finds a refreshing unity in the disparity, and I find that to be just lovely. ~Amy