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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The sun smiling down upon Sioux Falls, unmuffled by clouds, I leisurely walk into the East Bank Art Gallery. Instantly enchanted by the creative expressions of local artists hung from wall to wall, I am warmly greeted by John Nelson; a man modest in stature but enormous in personality and compassion. I am surprised to find that he is a free-spirited, easy going guy, with a contagious smile that never seems to leave his face. He pulls out two chairs, hand-painted with bright colors and complemented with delightful flowers. Treating me as an old friend, we chat for a while before I get around to interviewing him. – Patrick
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
Last 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
This past First Friday held an abundant offering of exhibits, and judging by the packed streets of downtown, you could tell that everyone was trying to enjoy the last fleeting days of summer. Art receptions for the evening included:
I 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
I used to call myself a painter. Joan Mitchell and Willem de Kooning books still stand proud on my studio bookshelf. Then, four years ago, at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, I took my first printmaking class from Gesine Janzen. Ever since, the coat of dust on my paintbrushes has grown thicker as I have expanded my collection of brayers and carving tools. I was attracted to printmaking as a medium because of its ability to replicate imagery; to be able repeat an image, but to retain unique charms in each individual print. Through relief printing, I found a rhythmic sort of therapy in the carving techniques. However, it was the immense sense of community that comes with being a printmaker that caused me to fall in love with the medium.
With my passions aligned as they are, learning that one of the most renowned print intensive workshops in the world was located a mere forty-five minutes from my hometown of Sioux Falls, SD seemed like a scene out of my best daydream. Now, after having experienced Frogman’s Print Workshop for the first time last week, I am now of the opinion that being so nearby at all times of the year caused me to do Frogman’s all wrong.
Frogman’s Print Workshop happens every year during the first two weeks of July at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD. Well over a hundred printmakers come from around the world to learn new techniques, share their own processes and work, and to create new relationships with kindred souls who share their passion for print. The 2015 workshop was the 34th year of Frogman’s. There are two week-long sessions filled with multiple Continue reading Frogman’s Print Workshop 2015→
Hello, I’m Sharon! I’m filling in here on the JAM blog for the first time to do a Downtown Sioux Falls First Friday review for June 5th. I was able to make it to four different art receptions that evening, but there were many, many more than that going on. The weather was perfect and downtown was absolutely bustling and buzzing with people!
SIOUX FALLS DESIGN CENTER
My first stop was at the Sioux Falls Design Center for Pikachu Night. I mean, PechaKucha Night. PechaKucha isn’t nearly as mysterious as it sounds, though I still can’t pronounce it correctly. It’s a simple presentation format where 20 images are shown, each for 20 seconds, while the speaker talks about the images as they go by.
I made it just as the second speaker, Allyson Bousema, was starting. It was standing-room only and I could barely get in the door! Allyson was speaking about her new business, Prints & Repeat, a printing company focused on the unique needs of artists.
On a beautiful May Friday, my friend Melissa and I ventured out into the perfect spring air, a warm breeze teasing us that summer is near. Downtown was thriving with people, not an unusual occurrence considering today is one of the best days of the year – Downtown’s First Fridays AND the Art and Wine Walk! The Art and Wine Walk, sponsored by Downtown Sioux Falls, is an enticing way to bring people into the local shops, casually sipping wine and enjoying the artwork that is hosted there.