After a diligent year and a half, Sion Lidster and Jason Kurtz of Full Circle Book Co-op will open their official brick-and-mortar location in Sioux Falls. A creative space for local artists of all ages and trades, FCBC is sure to be a springboard for countless local projects and ideas. We are so excited for our brothers in grassroots art advocacy. Congratulations and welcome to downtown! – Tana
Tana: Tell us a little about the Full Circle Book Co-op. What is it? How did the idea come about?
Sion Lidster: In its most basic form, the FCBC is a creative hub – based around a used books shop, events space and beer/wine/coffee/conversation bar – that serves affordable food!
The idea is to create a place where artists and fans of the arts can come to hang out, talk, work and meet each other. I hope that it will help inspire artistic projects and ideas.
A physical space is important in artistic movements, and I believe that service to the arts goes far beyond the artists themselves. It becomes the duty of businesses to afford artists their lifestyle, if they do indeed support that community. This means low prices and open arms. It means a meal that won’t break the bank, a full coffee cup, a round of beer and merriment. We want to feed the arts, literally!
The idea came about in order to solve a problem we were facing. Me and my friend and business partner, Jason Kurtz, both run literary non-profits, and we were struggling to find all age venues to host our events that didn’t cost more than we could afford. We decided to work together to create a space that would not only provide this, but would hopefully become an inspiring home for all artists looking for one. The co-op idea came about because we want to encourage community, but want to make it clear that you do not have to be a member to shop with us – our membership program provides additional benefits.
After a year and a half of pop-up shops and events around the community, you guys have secured a physical location. Was that always the goal? What has been the process? Where will it be located?
It was always the goal to have a physical location. In fact, we were quick to announce that the space was coming last summer before we hit some road bumps (we are artists and optimists first)! Those road bumps taught us some valuable lessons that we are now bringing to our new location. Funnily enough, the location we have now was actually the first place we ever wanted to lease – so, full circle it is!
We will be located at 123 W 10thSt, Downtown Sioux Falls (the former Hydra building).
What’s your vision for the space?
You will walk through the door to an eye full of books and histories. You will walk on and find someone writing in a notebook. There may be a passionate conversation at the bar. There’ll be poetry on the walls. There will be an artist selling their wares in a booth. A non-profit will be holding a meeting in our scriptorium. You’ll look at a menu of delicious, shareable meals. Depending on the day, you may be treated to open mic poetry, live jazz, stand-up comedy, independent theatre, figure drawing, or a zine-making workshop.
A place where you are going to come and find a surprise – whether that is a book that you never knew you wanted, a painting you’ve never seen, or a person you’ve never met. A community meeting point, open and welcoming to all.
You launched a Kickstarter to raise funds toward initial expenses. Can you give us some of those details?
Yes, we have a Kickstarter running until Thursday, October 18th. We are asking for $10,000 dollars to cover initial start-up costs, such as inventory, kitchen equipment, building improvements/maintenance, licenses, and the Kickstarter costs themselves.
We are offering a number of rewards for your donations, from gift certificates to swag bags to lifetime memberships, and more! More info here.
For those who might not be able to help monetarily, what are some other ways they can offer support?
Being a grassroots effort, there are many ways to support us that does not require your money. Sharing our posts. Inviting people to our events on social media. Interviewing us. Holding events with us. Word of mouth. Handing out fliers. Volunteering. Donating books.
Currently, $100 (100 points), a donation of 100 books (100 points), or volunteering 20 hours (5 points an hour), or a combination, will get you a year’s rolling membership. These are real physical ways to keep the doors open.
You are for the community by the community. What are some ways the community can get involved once your space is up and running?
The easiest way to get involved is to just simply ‘turn up.’ Come and buy our books, drink our coffee, join us for happy hour. Come and eat with us, break bread, share your news. Be a part of what this could be. The dream is to make this a living space, something memorable. We cannot, and don’t want to, do it without you.
If you want to hold an event, get in touch with us. If you have a non-profit and need a meeting space, get in touch with us. Consider us for your birthday parties, holiday parties, fundraising parties…
Come and perform with us, share your poetry, your acting, your painting. Bring us your books and prints to sell on the shelves…
Come to our classes, become members, bring a friend…
Create with us…
Open mic poetry, independent theatre, writing courses, TED-X style presentations, game nights, pub quiz, figure drawing, independent cinema, first page reads, writing critiques, cultural celebrations, salon-style conversations, live comedy, live podcasting, book clubs and book explorations, artistic happy hours, acting classes, photography classes, journaling classes, jazz brunch… and more!
We have many lists!
Even though you are a book co-op, like you said you are a creative space, and will have opportunities for a ray of artists. What kind of opportunities will you have available to visual artists?
When I speak of artists I speak of all mediums – written, visual, and beyond.
We want a space that is dedicated to a featured monthly visual artist. Somewhere where, instead of merely hosting work as a backdrop to our shop, we are working with the artist as part of an idea, an installation, for them to get the best of their work.
We are also going to have a space to sell prints, as well as a booth that can be hired at any time during our opening hours for people to sell their work (not specific to visual, but totally included.)
How can they reach out to you to get involved?
The easiest and quickest way is by liking and messaging us on Facebook, where Jason will get back to you quickly.
What is the best way to keep in the know? Newsletter sign-up, Facebook?
The “Make Art Your Business” class series this January and February is still open for registration! The sessions, led by Claudia Dail, are designed to help artists learn business basics, and consequently make their art business a success. Not sure exactly what “business basics” can help you with? Well, we’ve compiled a list of seven reasons why taking the classes would be a great start to the new year for you and your business. Take a look!
It’s All About You! While each of the classes focus on you, the first session in particular is all about you; it focuses on your goals and vision for making your art a business. If you don’t know what your goals are just yet, don’t worry – that’s what the class is for. It will help you decide what you want your niche to be and how to set goals and reach them.
Build Your Strengths, Strengthen Your Weaknesses. The classes also help you find your personal strengths and weaknesses in running a business. Knowing where you excel and where you need to focus more energy to succeed is an important skill to learn for this process, and builds on the goals you develop for yourself and your art.
Confidence Building. Along with developing your goals and strengths, the workshops offer opportunities to hone your skills. Not your artistic skills (you’ve already got those!), but the skills you need to market yourself.
Safe Practice Space. As a business person, you’ll need to learn to pitch yourself and business. The workshop offers a place to practice and develop this pitch without too much pressure.
Learn About the Sioux Falls Art Community. Since you’ll be learning to pitch yourself, you’ll need to know about the community you’re pitching to. That means learning about the Sioux Falls art scene and making connections with other artists. The classes offer both of these, and help you discover where and how to access your niche community.
Build Relationships with Other Artists. Speaking of the Sioux Falls art community, attending the workshops will connect you with other artists. Connections are important, and building relationships with other people in the art community helps make those connections.
Learn to Value Your Art Competitively. The last session in the series helps you learn how to put a price on your work. You’ll learn about perceived value and how to register your art, along with learning how to keep records and reports.
And finally, in Claudia’s own words: “It is up to each individual to decide how engaged they want to be. Those who go for it come away with far more than what transpires in the classroom.”
Talking with David Sieh in his gallery at the 8th and Railroad Center was a great experience. I learned a lot about what it means to be a contemporary naturalist, and how David approaches his work. Though a small space, Se Gallery was a brightly lit workspace with a lot going on. Getting a glimpse into his artistic process and journey as an artist was a treat.
Rachel: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself as an artist and your preferred medium to work with?
David: Sure. I guess, like we were talking about before, I grew up in the Twin Cities area and then moved here. So my art evolved from nature, landscape and wildlife. Then I was exposed to more contemporary, abstract art, then very influenced by the New York school of artists, all the abstract expressionists and then into pop-art. So my art kind of combines all of that.
About me, I grew up in nature, surrounded by nature and I always had a love of art, to use color and design. Stuff with that really developed my interest in art and I schooled in art so I just continued down that path I guess.
David got his Bachelor of Sciences degree with an emphasis in art from the University of Sioux Falls after bouncing to Augustana and Vermillion for a while. He’s been making art for 30 plus years. He’s been in his current gallery space for over 5 years.
You write that exposure to Terry Redlin’s work drove you to a career in art. What about him and his work inspired you to start making art?
When I was in high school, Terry Redlin was living in Hastings, Minnesota. He was one of the first people to inspire me as far as having a career in art. I actually did go over to his house–his home studio–when he was very first promoting his work. He inspired me in that a person could do the art and make a living. I was very much into nature and environmental art at that time, and I still am. Even though my work doesn’t emulate his work or really show any influence of him, his career path influenced me.
You call yourself a contemporary naturalist painter. What does that mean to you personally and how does it affect your work as an artist?
I’m very inspired by nature, that’s where I recharge my batteries. I have to be alone in nature. I try to do a little bit everyday, even if it’s just walking down the sidewalk or just in the backyard; to kind of get in-tune, get in a rhythm with nature, so as a naturalist I learn from nature. Just seeing how complicated things are…color patterns, designs, all that stuff influences my aesthetic. As a contemporary naturalist, I express that in my own painting through my gestures, colors, compositions. So, my work comes off as non-representational a lot of the time, but still influenced by nature.
You started drawing and painting when you were young “as a form of communication.” How does art communicate to you and how do you see yourself communicating through art to others?
On the representation level it’s a relatively cut and dry conversation where people just see me representing nature or an image. Then I can also combine those images with other aspects so it changes the dialogue to where it makes things a little more complicated. People have to think about the relationship of two images side by side, often times in a conservation aspect where it makes you think about the fragile-ness of nature, also the complexities of nature. Then, if you were to look at the abstract art, it doesn’t necessarily have a dialogue about nature. Its dialogue is more of an emotional impact where hopefully people look at it and have an emotional, maybe even a physical reaction to it. You know, that guttural reaction where you really like something or you really don’t, and then you stop and think about why you do or don’t like it.
Do you feel like you have a responsibility through your art to communicate those things or feel as though you have a responsibility as an artist?
I definitely do. I feel that I have the ability, or talent or sometimes I even feel like I’m a medium. I don’t even know exactly where the work comes from or what the work is, I’m just the medium putting the work down. So yes, I feel that I do have a responsibility to create as much art as I physically can just to get those conversations rolling.
As a part of the Sioux Falls art community, what do you think of the art scene?
There’s a real good talent pool here in town, a lot of people interested in it, but as far as a collector base and as far as general public knowledge it’s really minimal. But it seems to grow a bit all the time.
David’s list of in-town favorite shows include the past “Artists Against Hunger” shows and the Washington Pavilion’s Arts Night. He recommends Exposure, Post Pilgrim, Rehfeld’s and Piper. His work can currently be found at Piper and his studio at 8th and Railroad. He has also done murals at the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum.
How often do you create new work? And how long does a piece usually take you to finish?
As you can see, I’ve got work that’s in different stages of finish. I paint every single day. I’m in the process constantly. I’m never out of the process.
I’m gonna go with the usual 50 years and 10 minutes. It’s years and years of developing your technique and style.
Do you have any future plans for shows or specific pieces of art?
For me the art career and the whole thing is a combination of steady and consistent and patience. I’ve been doing this for 30+ years, so for me it’s the long term game.
David does accept commissions, seeing them as “Totally relevant and necessary, and part of the process.”
September’s First Friday was filled with new experiences and new friendships. I challenged myself this month by doing as many different and exciting things as I could. Having my artwork present in two separate group art shows, while simultaneously displaying quality, was a big part of that challenge.
My First Friday morning began with appearing on KELOLAND News to chat about the 5th Annual Tallgrass Recovery Art Show at Exposure Gallery, along with artists Betsy Ashworth and Joan Zephier. Personally, this wasn’t a first time being interviewed about my artwork, but it was a first having it air on television. As nerve-wracking as it was to piece together what I’d say to KELO, it was all worth it. Being able to have the chance to speak about a powerfully impacting exhibition is well worth any amount of nerves. I’m so thankful for Joan and everyone involved with the show.
The most surprising thing was the intense amount of people that showed up just for this healing event. I’m, at times, the type of person that would rather stay home and resist any chance to interact with people. Then there are special times that I’m able to move into a healthier mood that pushes me to meet folks and reach out. The reception was an incredibly eventful first.
A fun, interactive aspect to the exhibit is the People’s Choice Award. Attendees were asked to cast their vote before they left. With the pieces being displayed the entire month of September, I hope you have a chance to stop by to look around.
I enjoy seeing written, story-like pieces beside a visual artwork. It’s even more powerful when the viewer gets a written accompaniment to help lead their thinking, and walk them down a path of interpretation. I like to look for little body cues as viewers take in my work, as well. When someone is reading what I’ve placed before them, and they realize how it fits with everything else they’re seeing, that’s one of my favorite moments. It’s almost like an electric connection is sparked inside their eyes. Witnessing people light up with a specific passion for any artwork is a treat.
At 7:00 p.m. I had to hop, skip, and jump over to Vishnu Bunny Tattoo for the other group show I took part in this month. This show served as an introduction to local artists that the community may not have known about otherwise.
Both Exposure and Third Eye Gallery at Vishnu are constantly brainstorming new topics and themes for artists to submit and present on. Keep your eyes peeled for calls for art. A great resource is our very own Call For Art page on JAM’s website!
I’m not a fan of bland artist statements. I like to give information in a more engaging and fun way. The “theme” of my work displayed at Vishnu is similar to a timeline with missing chunks. So, I decided to make my statement more of a funky story to follow along with. I noticed that during the night, I had to point this fact out to folks. Most of whom I chatted with had never heard of an artist statement that didn’t just state the obvious facts.
For those of you reading who are wondering how to get your work into galleries, just keep going. Connect. Keep pushing. Keep meeting people. Keep working on your art. Keep taking in constructive criticism. Keep positive. What more is there to say? www.patreon.com/HannahWendt
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Can you use three words to describe your art and yourself?
Perseverance. Fearless. Optimistic.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A morning bell rings at Roosevelt High School, and outside a room in the deepest recess of the C Wing of visual and performing arts, Erin Nguyen waits smiling outside her ceramics classroom. As the high-schoolers file in, I note that it’s only the second week of a new semester, and Erin is able to greet each of her students by name.
Known as “Miss Winn,” to her students, Erin lives in Sioux Falls with her husband, Dan. She has ten years of teaching experience, and has spent the last two working her “dream job” at Roosevelt. Consummately expressive with her face and her words, Erin laughs easily and speaks at a leisurely pace, drawing out the vowels of certain words, turning her conversation into a kind of melody.
A little bit off the First Friday beaten path, right on what might be considered the cusp of downtown, sits a real gem. Nestled on the corner of 27th and Minnesota is Piper Custom Framing and Fine Art Gallery. As a custom frame shop foremost, it’s possible that it might not even be on your radar as a gallery to stop in and visit. Living only a few blocks north, I have driven past the storefront countless times. Each time curiously eyeing it. Done the same? Save yourself prolonged wonderment. Go in.
The gallery is cozy, and full of carefully selected, beautiful art from Midwest artists – print to sculpture and everything in-between. Not only that, the framing selection makes Hobby Lobby’s wall o’ frame look like a cheap floozy, and the staff are incredibly welcoming, experienced and wonderful to talk to. They welcome local artists with open arms, and are always willing to sit down and have a chat with them.
You can feel that this is a place where quality, and the individual customer experience is the top priority. They care immensely about what they do, and that passion shows the minute you walk in the door. Reaffirming, once again, that there is really nothing better than small business, and really nothing better than buying local art.
I’ve lived in Sioux Falls for three years now, but this was the first time that anyone in my family had been to a First Friday. While my dad enjoyed a couple of beers outside Stogeez Cigar Lounge, I explored all of the great art. At the end of the evening, we both remarked that we’d never seen so much diversity in Sioux Falls all in one place. It was beautiful to see.
Eleven years ago, 20 local artists started Eastbank Art Gallery in a storefront at 8th and Railroad Center, at a time when that part of town was known largely for the rail yards, and not much else. Over the years, things have changed exponentially, with even more change promised since the City of Sioux Falls purchased more than 10 acres of the downtown rail yard from the BNSF Railway for redevelopment. People know where Eastbank is now, and as a gallery, they have forged a good reputation with artists.
The spacious gallery has one of the largest, readily available collections of local and regional art in Sioux Falls. Unlike any other gallery in town, they are member-stocked and member-ran. The walls and display cases boast the work of the current 16 members, and range in style, technique and trade.
I sat down with vice president, Jim Heroux, to talk more.