I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on what is known, rather informally, in the art world as an “artist talk”. The artist in question was Amber Hansen, the current painting professor at the University of South Dakota. What I expected to be a simple recap of Hansen’s past works was, to my pleasant surprise, a journey through a number of small towns within the Midwest, an interesting discussion on sustainable farming techniques, a viewing of a diverse array of charcoal drawings, large scale murals, experimental films, and Hansen’s insight as to what it means to create artwork collaboratively. What I assumed would be a summary of Hansen’s formal education and a viewing of her portfolio, was actually a dive into Hansen’s world of creating artwork, not simply for herself, but with community involvement and a sense of unity in mind. Continue reading AMBER HANSEN: ART EDUCATOR
There is something special about viewing an artist’s work in-progress. The raw, intimate glimpse of a temporary existence, an image in flux of both content and time. For Sharon Wegner-Larsen, this type of documentation is simply a part of her creative process; each piece seems to be painstakingly documented, and generously offered to the public in an engaging way. Talking to Sharon, you can tell she is a natural born teacher, someone who values the dedication and discipline attached to strengthening a craft.
Much like her marriage of painting, illustration and design, Sharon combines her love of science and art to create vivid, detailed explorations of life on earth and the space above. Seeking to create a dialogue between the two, her pieces celebrate exploration, and the wonder of the natural world. Read on to find the inspiration behind her work, how she keeps herself on task, and how she has watched the Sioux Falls art community grow. ~Amy
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
I 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
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.
I 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
Downtown Sioux Falls, participating locations
Friday, October 4, 2014
Ever since I went to the May Wine Walk this past spring, I’ve been itching to go again. It was so much fun to see the local artists creating live work and to sample new wines. If you haven’t been downtown in a while or haven’t been before, I strongly suggest this event as a perfect opportunity to find out about both local businesses and budding local artists.
There are 21 participating locations in Sioux Falls (most of them downtown). Viewing the art is Continue reading Around and About October’s First Friday Art & Wine Walk
I received an email from Michelle St Vrain about letting all of you kind folks know about the happenings in Vermillion this last weekend. Michelle, a coordinator for Frogman’s Print Workshop which is hosted on the University of South Dakota‘s campus wrote, “I know that JAM Art & Supplies usually features local artists but I feel that this is also an important South Dakota event that should be considered covering. Many printmakers and other artists travel to Vermillion, SD annually to be apart of this workshop and I feel that this is a very unique situation for this region. I would love for you or another JAM Art & Supplies representative to come and view the artwork, and also meet many wonderful people involved with the workshop.”