Tag Archives: Washington Pavilion


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!

Shearing the Shepherd by Walter Portz

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.

Unity, A Balancing Act by Terry Mulkey

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.



Steve Bormes
Visual Artist Lacey Lee
Urban Archeology
Urban Archeology
Jordan Thornton at CH Patisserie
Vishnu Bunny
Mark Romanowski at Vishnu Bunny
Kelsey Benson at Coffea








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.


Spatial Play by Steven Stradley at the Washington Pavilion

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.

Remnant, 2016


Reclamation, 2016
Reclamation, 2016

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.

Isolation Chamber, 2016
Isolation Chamber, 2016

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.

Residue, 2016
Residue, 2016

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.

Downtown Library
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.

Rehfeld’s Gallery
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.

Washington Pavilion
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.

Crowd participation during Meagan Dion’s presentation, ‘Asana, Art, Ananda.’

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…

Exposure Gallery
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.

Sioux Falls Arts Council
The Sioux Falls Arts Council held a reception and artist talk for artists Jerry Cook and Kelly Tadlock. Their work is available for viewing through July at the Sioux Falls Arts Council office.

This Friday Eastbank Gallery hosts their Second Friday Reception for artists J.V. Nelson and Janet Judson from 5pm to 8pm.



First Friday Review: February 5th, 2016

A rare moment of warmth in the South Dakota winter meant I really didn’t mind wandering around on this First Friday. And mild weather came with a mild schedule. I had plenty of time to linger at each place because I got an early start and only had a handful of haunts to hit up. So let me share what I found with you. Continue reading First Friday Review: February 5th, 2016

A Written Record of A Human Record

Seeing A Human Record, for me, was like drinking good whiskey. Nostalgia and just the right amount of philosophical possibility served up in a mattress-wrapped glass. I couldn’t forget the installation because it felt like I had stepped into someone else’s memories for a minute, just to find hints of my own.

To the artist, Ashton Bird, A Human Record  was kind of like an abandoned house. And after spending time with the painted mattresses and wallpaper peeling away from the structure in layers, one viewer told the installation’s curator, Sarah Odens, that it felt like “Post Apocalyptic Princess and the Pea”.

At the forefront of the installation Ashton crafted mattress-sized structures out of lumber and stacked them vertically, separated by the top layer of a mattress. He called it the filing cabinet, where “anonymous histories…[are] on file”.


Just past that, a sort of walkway lined in salvaged pallets led to an open white space, ceilinged with reclaimed lumber.


Rounding the corner again led to a space with painted mattresses lining its sides.


Mattresses and Paint

Let me tell you about those mattresses.

Pre-install, they looked like a stack of twenty in a mattress recycle store in Sioux Falls. The employees had collected them for Ashton and intoned a pseudo-apology by saying, “we tried to pick the clean ones for you”. Thing is, used mattresses have a certain…scent about them, because a chunk of a lifespan has been spent on them. Both artist and gallery didn’t want the scent of a used mattress wafting through the space, so Ashton gave them a thorough, sanitizing wash and then the health inspector looked them over.

Why mattresses? Let’s back up and I’ll tell you the story.

Once upon a time Ashton was working in the Habsburg Exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where he stared at a few tapestries on a daily basis. Those tapestries indicate a family’s lineage, and that sparked a thought: “Hey, I wonder if I could make an anonymous lineage of people’s history?”

This is Ashton.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Minneapolis, a woman decided, for unknown reasons, to relocate her mattress. By the time she’d lugged it out of her apartment, Ashton was at the Vietnamese restaurant right next to her apartment complex and he caught a glimpse of her. He said that both the woman and the mattress she was carrying looked a little tired and worn. Kinda like a pet can start to look like its owner.

He was a senior at Minnesota State University at the time, where he started out as a ceramicist. His professors pushed him to integrate outside media with clay until “eventually clay became just a material…like a painter. A painter can paint with anything. So…I can make art with anything, and then just making a composition with that, so it’s still interesting to look at, but combines things in kind of unexpected ways.”

Like combining salvaged lumber with recycled mattresses? Yes, of course.

The Little Gallery

Kara Dirkson is the director of the Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion, and she’s just as cool as her title. She says one of the benefits of the Corner Gallery is the lack of windows and its darker wall color. See, the gallery used to be a study room. But a name change and a wall demolition later and the Pavilion had gained an intimate studio right off of the Everist Gallery.

Ashton wanted to utilize the intimacy of the space by making the focal point “just me putting my energy on the mattresses,” so he painted them. “But then it turned too carnival, and then it looked like insanity…I didn’t want that. So I went through and whitewashed it to kinda tone it down,” which ultimately made room for a “kind of spiritual [feel]”.

Spiritual or commemorative, Kara pointed out that mattresses themselves record a large part of our personal histories. “All those aspects of our bodies that get absorbed into these odd things…[Ashton’s] kind of exposing them and putting them in our face.” So it makes sense that a number of conversations Ashton’s had with people at the exhibit revolve around “this reminds me of…” type of comments.

And that art has gotten people talking. Sarah says that’s quite the feat. “Because starting a conversation with art is hard, and I’m sure that that’s something you hope for…the magic of contemporary art that hasn’t been put into a historical canon is that there’s still a lot to debate and talk about it.” And Kara says those conversations are what the Pavilion hopes for with the exhibits they house in the Corner Gallery.

Now That it’s Over

When A Human Record came down, Ashton rolled it up and took it back to Tallahassee with him where his next work of art is grad school. He says he’s gravitating towards creating work with a “dreamy, dreamscape feeling” now.

I hope you got a chance to see it friends, and if you didn’t I hope Dan Thorson’s pictures in this post help dry your tears. And don’t forget to check back in a couple weeks, because I’ll be venturing back to the Pavilion to wander its galleries and tell you about their new exhibits.

Until next time.




The Pavilion at this Moment in December

Hey friends, and happy South Dakota winter! It can get mighty cold here on the prairie, can’t it?

If you wanna warm up your insides, I recommend checking out the art that the Washington Pavilion has on display at the moment. (A little while ago I did a post about what was up then, so I’ll spend more time on the new stuff. That article is here).

Ok, so let me give you the tour. I’ll start with the main floor, which the Pavilion calls the Second Floor on its Visual Arts Center handout, and I’ll also divide it up by gallery.

Cool. Let’s get started.

Continue reading The Pavilion at this Moment in December

First Friday Review: December 4th, 2015

One of the qualities that I treasure most about  my hometown is the tight-knit, supportive community that is downtown Sioux Falls. It seems that when any one of us is in a pickle, another soul is there, without hesitation, to have our backs. This week, my stand-out someone was fellow JAM blogger Kaitlynn Wornson. Kaitlynn stepped in for a couple of hours on First Friday and allowed me to dash off and sell some of my own artwork. So, with much gratitude and no further adieu, I give you a collaborative December First Friday review by Kaitlynn and yours truly.

Jordan Thornton, JAM blogger

Continue reading First Friday Review: December 4th, 2015


It’s always hard to decide where to start with First Friday events and sometimes it can seem overwhelming. But, the Mad Hatter said that you should start at the beginning so I’m going to tell you how I wandered around on October’s First Friday (which was also the Art and Wine Walk).

So let’s get started.

Continue reading FIRST FRIDAY REVIEW: OCTOBER 2ND, 2015