For several months, I have wanted to visit the Museum of Visual Materials for their First Friday art receptions. My first impression was joy when I saw their sidewalk covered in fun chalk doodles. The smell of savory wine and cheese definitely peaked my senses. For someone who has never stepped into the building, I thought that the layout of the space helped me feel welcome to walk about and spark up conversation over the artwork by artist Isz.
Once I noticed my time was rapidly escaping me, I decided to move on to my next destination, the 8th and Railroad Center. Boy, was I surprised to find the chance to ride a mechanical bull!
After the sweet seduction of the delicious food trucks, I wandered into the Eastbank Gallery. They had some fun, new art displayed throughout the space. I can’t help, but take my time to gaze upon these diverse artist’s work.
On my way to the Washington Pavilion, I spotted one of the most artistic paintwork on a vehicle I have ever witnessed. I’d be telling myself lies if I said I wasn’t impressed. To be honest, I’m quite jealous and was considering doing the same to my own car.
As usual, the artists being held at the Pavilion always are enjoyably engaging and ever breathtaking!
A large crowd gathered in the Schultz Gallery for the opening reception of local artist, Anna Youngers.
Right outside Lucky’s stands Steve Bormes‘ sculpture, “School Spirit,” which is part of the Sculpture Walk. I try to take the long way around downtown just to see all of these wonderful sculptures as much as possible, even when driving to work.
There have only been a hand full of times that I’ve seen inside the Rehfeld’s Gallery. For me, each time seems to get richer as I explore the layout of artists.
Just a hop, skip, and jump away from Rehfeld’s is Vishnu Bunny and their Third Eye Gallery. Each month they host different artists, along with a different theme. All I can say is, you’ll want to go check them out!
With the night slipping away, I found myself getting my nightly caffeine crave. What a better situation having the downtown Coffea right next door to Vishnu… Yay, that means more art!
I am someone who is incredibly receptive of my surroundings. That amazing doughnut photograph by Amy really influenced me to go stop by Half Baked Cupcakes for some sweets. To my delight, I was able to see if Sara Bainter had put up any new pieces in their space!
Don’t forget, right outside The Phillips Diner and Woodgrain is usually some outstanding live music! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw crowds of folks gathering around the Dakota Snow truck giving away FREE shaved ice courtesy of National Bank. Cool! (Ha, get it?)
Even though I haven’t always been aware of all that First Friday has to offer, Downtown Sioux Falls continues to grow on me with each venture I take. Plus, I was able to look up into our bright, blue sky and watch some hot air balloons drift around town. Until next time fellows.
(June 24-September 16, 2017) Everest Gallery of the Washington Pavilion
It seems to me that the Washington Pavilion often appears as just a landmark to Sioux Falls inhabitants, and not much else. Contrary to this perception, however, the Pavilion is always changing; providing new sights, activities, and learning experiences. Recently, the Pavilion’s Visual Arts Center staff transformed their largest gallery (the Everest Gallery) to accommodate an exhibition that travels internationally. The show, Above the Fold: New Expressions in Origami, has been traveling since 2015, and features unique works of origami from artists around the world.
With my first step into the gallery, I was immediately aware that I would not be peering at any paper cranes that day. Instead, I was greeted by whimsical, inflated creatures that dangled from the ceiling, and fantastic forms encased in blown glass bubbles that surely could not be made of paper. The Pavilion’s assistant curator, Sarah Odens, was right when she stated that this “is origami like most of us have never seen before.” The works vary from large-scale installations, to optical illusions that hang flat on the wall. A massive, seven-foot-tall piece by Jiangmei Wu, is waiting in the back of the gallery to take your breath away!
While exploring the show, I also took some time to watch the PBS film that is screening in gallery. To my surprise, the artists interviewed within the film are many of the same artists featured within this show. I’m glad I took a few minutes to listen, as it outlined how these artists are at the forefront of the origami realm, but are also wildly intelligent engineers, architects, and mathematicians. They are not only changing the way we think about origami, but also how the science of folding can be applied to real world problems! I learned that origami artists like Robert Lang and Erik and Martin Demaine have used paper folding to solve issues surrounding air bag folding, expandable space telescopes, and human proteins that fold to fight disease!
I highly recommend making a stop at the Pavilion to see this show. As Odens mentioned, “pictures do not do this work justice… to see all these folds up close and in person is an experience.” Allow yourself to be amazed by these pieces! Make “connections to the origami [you] learned when [you] were young… and then see what paper can do and what origami artists, with science and mathematics, can achieve.”
This international show will be on display in the Everest Gallery of the Washington Pavilion until September 16, 2017. And don’t forget about Free First Fridays! On August 4th, not only will entrance to the Visual Arts Center be free, Robert Lang (one of the many artists and engineers featured in this show) will be speaking about his work, his education, and how he uses origami to solve real-world issues. Don’t miss out! Lang is speaking at 7 p.m. in the Belbas Theater of the Pavilion.
As a fellow employee of the Washington Pavilion, I have had the chance to meet Mercedes before interviewing her for JAM’s Educator Interview. We meet regularly at the Pavilion to go over future lesson plans, and she is there to help other teachers understand the more artistic processes with children. Mercedes leaves quite the great impression! She’s wonderful at creating a fantastic learning experience, even with adults. She especially cares enough to make sure every child understands, and is having fun with the projects. It was amazing to have that student to teacher base impression of her before sitting down and chatting.
Where/what do you teach and what ages?
I teach at the Washington Pavilion, ages pre-k through seniors. I teach drawing, painting sculpture and ceramics. I teach outreach to youth at risk at Juvenile detention center, Multicultural Center, Bowden Youth Center, and other afterschool programs funded by grants in the Action Arts and Science Program (AASP).
I teach private lessons, home school lessons, art smarts (primarily school field trips to the Pavilion) OLLI classes, and pottery classes like ‘Wine on the Wheel’.
What inspired you to begin your teaching career? Was the goal always teaching?
I knew I wanted to be an art teacher in 3rd grade. I had great art teachers in middle and high school that encouraged me to stay in the arts. Lori Boldt, Maureen Kaul and Sara Winterscheidt to name a few.
Is there a specific rule of thumb, style, or method that you like to follow when you teach?
Practice every day! Work those art muscles! Step out of one’s comfort zone. If one always draws the same thing, they’ll get really great at drawing that thing. One should try to draw other things, too! For example, I try to push people away from the classic “corner sunshine” composition and ask them if there is another way to put the sun in their picture. In my opinion, art is 90% problem solving and 10% skill.
What are your favorite aspects about teaching?
Watching the self-discovery, and winning the students over. Sometimes they come into the room and see the project we will be working on, and the first thing out of their mouth is, “We’re making that? I can’t do that.” Then when class is over they are usually pretty impressed with themselves.
Is there anything that you would want to change about teaching?
Not now. I taught in the public school system for a few years in Georgia, and grading art for 600 students was a challenge. I also felt I didn’t get to know my students very well. Now I teach in an informal setting at the Pavilion where there are no grades; only learning and exploration and discovery without pressure to make the grade. My students are in my classes because they choose to be, and that feels awesome!
Would you give us a glimpse into your hobbies and interests? What are some of your favorite pass times?
My 15 year old daughter and I like to sing and play a few instruments. I like to play in my garden and I love to feed people delicious food. I do Henna tattoos as a side business, When I get a chance to do art for myself, I like to make drums out of clay and cover them with goat skin. Then I do custom Henna designs on the skins of the drums.
Thinking about the future, what is a larger-than-life goal that you might have?
I would love to travel the world. I was able to visit Europe for the first time last year. Ireland was such a grand experience that it wet my appetite for more traveling.
Are you part of, or are you planning any big events with the public?
Well, we do a lot of outreach through the Pavilion at special events like the Pride Festival, Down Town Riverfest and Jazz Fest. It’s usually easy to find our table. Just look for all the kids having fun!
Can anyone sign up for classes with you?
Yes. Anyone. You’ll find most of the classes I teach at Washingtonpavilion.org. I’ve done private and semi-private lessons with students from 4 to 94.
Using three words how would you describe yourself and style of teaching?
Passionate, creative and FUN!
ANNOUNCEMENT: JAM Art and Supplies will be having Mercedes Maltese create henna body art both July and August First Fridays 7-8:30 pm. We’ll be open late till 9 pm.
For me, experiencing the full spectrum of the First Friday scene was a first. I am incredibly glad that I had the ability to visit much of what downtown had to offer for the month of March. It’s a delightful surprise to find that there is such an abundance of activities continually going on here. I look forward to the increasing opportunities that Sioux Falls has to offer. ~Hannah
MISHEARD LANDSCAPES: IPSO Gallery
As I stepped into the gallery space of Fresh Produce’s IPSO Gallery, my eyes were drawn to Amanda Smith‘s large scale painting. This painting was placed so perfectly, it activated the remaining area. It gave me a sense of a night sky, or even, that I was floating around in the gallery from piece to piece.
At first glance, the viewer might find it difficult to recognize the subject being portrayed. It did seem like the theme of landscape were indeed present. However, I wondered if Smith had other themes streamed throughout the pieces displayed? She has a great way of bringing the movement and brightness of each painting to the focus of the viewers. This made me feel as if the artwork, hand in hand with the space, were able to tell their own story and reasons behind their creation. Sadly, I did not have the chance to speak with her about my wonderings, I simply found closure in the explanations her art had given me.
IPSO Gallery is strategically entwined with Fresh Produce and all that they do. When visiting the gallery, the set-up encourages art lovers, and bystanders alike, to roam freely about the building. I was excited to discover that I could take home with me a pen and a key chain, both saying “keep Sioux Falls boring.” How quirky? Along with the booth, there was the long-lasting joy that always comes as a bonus when food is offered.
WIDE OPEN SPACE: Washington Pavilion Visual Arts Center
As someone who works for the Washington Pavilion, I had the chance to get a bit of a sneak peek of the Wide Open Space exhibit in the Jerstad Gallery before the First Friday events occurred. I remember thinking to myself, what is this? Why does this look so amazingly cool in the space? When can I stop by to hear the artist talk? Wow!Brian Frink did wonders making this area come to life!
When I walked into the gallery, time seemed to escape into Frink’s work. After viewing the pieces, displayed in a quirky manner, I noticed a pattern within the space: he strategically placed the constructions in a way that added a special sensory experience to the works. Being able to see his perspective of elemental themes fascinated me. They all have a certain character of their own that jumps to the viewer’s attention. I was dumbfounded by the layers of meaning. I agree with Frink’s statement: “the paintings exist within the space of the Visual Arts Center in a particular way that will never be repeated.”
JORDAN THORNTON: Sioux Falls Arts Council
Jordan Thornton is the featured visual artist at the Sioux Falls Arts Council. From observing her work, including my previous knowledge of her style changes, it’s clear to see why she was chosen for this space. As a whole, I feel that the gallery’s surroundings actually drew out the most important strengths in Thornton’s work. It was incredibly fun to wander the space draped with naturist pieces.
Thornton’s style is one that I have always been entertained with–it’s something that is so distinctly her own that it can’t be mistaken for anyone else’s. She places each piece on the walls in a way that gives a structural feeling to the area. In contrast, the subject matter is often roots, or other means of nature and life. I found this to be the most intriguing aspect of her work. The theme of nature being distorted to fit her own views and perceptions of it was a nice consistency. Thornton has the means to push her printmaking techniques to create works that relate to the viewer’s eye.
“Two for Fargo, please.” With tickets safely in my breast pocket, I leave the DTSF office and the Shriver Building to greet the morning’s piercing sky. Smiling, I think about my hopes for tonight: The Museum of Visual Materials for Tara Barney’s interactive art project, the Pavilion for art receptions, and the State Theatre’s showing of Fargo. Fargo. How appropriate; I realize I’m not at all dressed for this cold, so I stuff my hands in my pockets and run the block to the car. Glad I don’t live in Fargo…
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.
Apparently, summer happened already. Kids are back to school, and I have seen a few leaves on the ground. I’ve once again declined an invitation to suck at fantasy football, and my gourd-loving friends have already been talking about how excited they are for pumpkin spice season. I prefer to call it fall, and leave my plain, black coffee alone.
I’m pretty positive September has no intention of going any slower, so before it’s suddenly October, here is September’s First Friday Review.
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.
From now until September 10, you can visit an exciting exhibit at the Washington Pavilion called Spatial Play by Steven Stradley. Stradley’s work seeks to highlight the mundane aspects of art galleries that are not meant as artwork, but necessary for the building. Outlets, fire alarms, as well as the layout of the room are all emphasized by Stradley’s art, which is custom-made for each gallery it is displayed in. The works are an example of art that literally jump right off the page. They travel across walls, floors, and ceilings, showing off the interesting layout of the Corner Gallery where the exhibit is housed. Stradley’s work showcases the idea of provisional painting, where a work is intentionally left in an incomplete stage. According to Stradley, his work “parallels [the] shifting experience and uncertainty of being human.”
Stradley was raised in Utah, and got his Bachelors of Fine Arts in painting and art education from Utah State University before achieving a Masters of Fine Arts in painting at Michigan State University. The works in this show were made in Utah, before being transported to the Pavilion.
After viewing this fascinating and unusual exhibit, I had some questions for Stradley, which he was kind enough to answer.
Q: I know you made many of the pieces in the exhibit to fit the specific measurements of the Corner Gallery. Do you ever worry that you’ll get to a gallery, and your work won’t fit?
Stradley: This has happened before. I showed up to install a site-specific piece, and found that I had made part of it 11 inches too short. A major part of being an artist, for me, deals with visual problem solving. This extends into the gallery space during installation and presentation. I had to construct a segment that would fit into the gap that I needed filled in order to complete the install. Each show has some unique aspect that has to be addressed once in situ[ation], making the work both site specific, but also site reactive.
Q: What do you enjoy about highlighting the mundane architectural elements of galleries?
Stradley: Museums and galleries take great precautions to not create visual tangents within the exhibition spaces when installing art. I find this kind of institutional convention to be a ripe place for a kind of critique of how spaces, and art objects, are thought about and canonized. Staying out of the corners, idealized centering of each work, proper spacing, lighting, and distance from fixtures are always traditionally considered. I am acknowledging the whole space by drawing attention to these aspects of the gallery that are ignored in the ideal canon of installation practices. I, also, see art as an experiential entity that can activate greater personal perception. The art becomes part of the overall understanding for the space, and vice versa.
Q: Were your paintings done prior to you organizing this exhibit, and then put together into each piece? Or did you paint them with this exhibit in mind?
Stradley: A little of both methods were used for this exhibition. Remnant and Reclamation are composed mainly of older work that has been reconstructed into new work. Reclamation is made specifically for the Corner Gallery space and uses found signage, repurposed work, and new elements that were created just for this exhibition. Intersection stems from the group of architectural fixtures on the wall, and is site-specific. Much of the other work is site reactive, meaning that it wasn’t created specifically for this exhibition, but is presented in response to the gallery space.
Many (all) of Stradley’s works are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. They play with unusual materials, and are placed in ways that are very nontypical for art gallery displays. They gave me more questions than answers. Luckily, Stradley had the answers.
Q: What was your thinking behind using twine to partially conceal some of your paintings in Isolation Chamber?
Stradley: The free standing wall on the gallery was a difficult feature for me to think about in this exhibition. I went through an iteration of various ideas before arriving at Isolation Chamber. My thought here is to create a visual barrier that distances the viewer from a more intimate view of the paintings contained within. For me, painting is a very physical and personal thing that I want to approach and encounter from close range. I’m usually the one that museum security has to ask to step back from the paintings, because I am so closely observing mark making, and the materiality of the medium. I like the kind of artificial tension created by the twine that at once activates the gallery space, while creating distance from the “main focus” of traditional exhibitions, the painting. I suppose that I am striving to create a kind of frustrated desire on the part of the viewer by locking them out from a closer view of the painted objects, though the allure and glow of the string creates a diversion that activates the peripheral and architectural space.
Q: The dried paint on the doorframe in Residue is such a fun touch. Where did you get that idea?
Stradley: The studio is a place for me to reflect on what makes up a painting practice. Frequently, I find that peripheral occurrences in the studio are equally, if not more, compelling than the work I am making. Much of my work plays off of this idea of the peripheral or secondary event. Residue is this kind of event, composed of all the extra paint that was on my palette from making the other work for this installation. In a way, it is a table of contents of color that ties all the other work together. I also thought that it would bridge my exhibition to the Everist Gallery by slightly interrupting that space, creating a line of color. I am also highlighting, and even defacing the corner, by putting paint scraping directly onto the clean gallery architecture.
I left the exhibit feeling like I had a new understanding of what art galleries could look like. Of course, they can look like anything, but there seems to be a common formula that you’ll find at most galleries and museums. If you visit a lot of these places, you become so use to that formula, that it’s hard to imagine an exhibit that doesn’t follow it. That’s one of my favorite aspects of Spatial Play. It will throw your preconceived ideas about what art galleries look like out the window.
Q: How do you hope people will feel during and after viewing Spatial Play?
Stradley: My work investigates the nature and modern histories of painting, and places it in contemporary contexts. I hope that the audience will reevaluate what painting is, or can be, upon seeing the exhibition.
Spatial Play by Steven Stradley can be seen at the Washington Pavilion until September 10, 2016. It is located in the Corner Gallery, and all of the works in the exhibit are for sale. More information on the exhibit, and the Washington Pavilion can be found by visiting www.washingtonpavilion.org. To learn more about Steven Stradley, please visit www.stevenstradley.com.
June 3rd kicked off First Fridays for the summer season, and boasted a long list of happenings. We tried our best to check off as many as we could, jumping place to place in-between rain clouds. While the rain botched many of the outdoor festivities, including the block party at 8th and Railroad, the sky offered a double rainbow for a trade.
Here were some of the highlights.
The library is featuring the works of 16 local and regional artists from Eastbank Gallery. If you’re picking up a book or two, make sure to take a stroll by the East and West walls.
We did a sweep through Unglued to wish them a happy first birthday, and decorate some cupcakes. Hands down, one of my favorite shops in town. If you haven’t been, you better.
A reception for Joshua Spies, a wildlife painter, was held at Rehfeld’s. Spies is a Watertown native, and a dedicated conservationist. Through his work, he has helped raise millions of dollars to support wildlife and conservation foundations. Impeccable detail, color and depth, give his paintings a very realistic, photo-like quality. Eye to Eye, a life-size painting of an elephant, is something you definitely have to experience in person. His work is on display the month of June.
New in the Everest Gallery is The Boomer List, an exhibition featuring photography by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Consisting of large format, celebrity portraits of members of the generation, it is a fascinating compilation of both people and their experiences. A video of the photo shoots add behind-the-scenes depth to the exposition. It is showing until the end of August.
Sioux Falls Design Center’s PechaKucha Night, Vol. 18
The Design Center put on a very successful, 18th installment of PechaKucha Night, this time in partnership with the Washington Pavilion. If you are not familiar, PechaKucha is a presentation style originating in Tokyo that allows the presenter 20 slides, at 20 seconds a slide (about seven minutes a presentation).
Ten local creators and innovators got up in front of a packed Everest Gallery to talk about their passion. Some of the topics ranged from yoga to women’s rights to facing fears. Presenters included: Jordan Thornton, Ashley Thompson, Brett Cooper, Amy Gehling, Lisa Nolen, Kara Dirkson, Bryan Kegley, Matthew Rennels, Meagan Dion, and Rick Knobe. Make sure to keep your eye out for the next installment. Want to know more about PechaKucha? www.pechakucha.org
Third Eye Gallery at Vishnu Bunny
Third Eye Gallery’s June show, Visions, features the works of local artists Glory Yount, Ruth Comfort, Donna O’Dea, Luke Arens, and Art by Carly. An eclectic, electric and expressive display of talent worth stopping by for. Maybe get some new ink while you’re at it.
I was disappointed to miss a couple stops. They are definitely worth noting…
Exposures show, Echoes, featured the works of Jeff Ballard and Dave Lethcoe, as well as Kelsey Benson in the back gallery. Make sure to stop by and check it out! They will be up through June.