Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Arts in Rapid: Art Night Downtown and a Launch Party

the stage at Main Street Square
There is a great tradition in arts communities around the nation of gathering on the first Friday of each month to put on a special event for folks to visit and see the what local artists are doing.  Rapid City is putting its own twist on this tradition with Art Night Downtown the second Friday of the month.  This is the second summer for the local event and all summer I have been busy painting at Lasting Memories photo studio.
 For the last event of the season I decided to walk around and see what was happening. Main Street Square, as usual, was hopping, with musician Jami Linn braving the first cold snap of the winter to keep folks entertained.  The square was setting up for the astronaut themed launch party for artsrapidcity...more on that later.

My first stop was the Suzie Cappa Art Center, where the resident artists stay late and a different local musician plays each time.
at Suzie Cappa 
 I love this gallery, and not just because they are displaying my art.  The space is beautiful, the atmosphere welcoming, and the mission- to help adults with special needs make their own way in the world- very worthy.  This is one of three information hubs where you can pick up a map showing all of the 29 businesses that stay open late on artnight so you know where to go

While Canvas 2 Paint is not on the artnight maps, it was open and packed as usual with people having a great time.  This business is doing an amazing job of making art accessible to everyone.
the fabulous owner and teacher at Canvas 2 Paint makes everything fun-plus,Wine!

The Dahl Fine Arts Center was very quiet, but their galleries are always filled with superior art and tonight is no exception

These quilts by Linda Beach turn a craft into an art.

The folks from the Dahl made a trail of dog paw prints leading through the alley behind the library to another major attraction, the warm and welcoming "art on the porch" at Wyss, associates.  This group of proffessionals puts on a very nice gathering with different artists and musicians each month.

Mary Wickler Peterson with her hand woven vest

With the cold of the last few days it was particularly nice to walk on to the warmly lit porch with its music and welcome.  A printmaker and two weavers were among the artists displaying their work this time.

A quick trip through Art Alley to see who was working on this week's murals...

and on to the main event of the night:  artsrapidcity.org launch party

All summer local artists have been getting together to find out how we can be a part of the new Rapid City arts and culture website.  This thing has everything arts related and it is built by and for the folks that live here. Please go visit and give them your to see what you can find there.
artsrapidcity.org banners all over downtown
follow this link to see my artsrapidcity profile,  just one of dozens of visual artists that are represented on the website

Our extrordinary committee: Jessica, Sarah, and Anna
The launch party was a lot of fun, with the aforementioned Jami Linn playing, Caricatures by Alyssa, who spends her summers drawing visitors at Storybook Island, computers set up to you could look at the website, ice cream by Silver Lining Creamery, and sidewalk chalk drawing for everyone.  The folks who came up with the idea got funding from a Bush grant- a hugely competitive grant that has more than 600 applicants for each grant available. This is a pretty amazing feat for our little town, and something we can use to take us to a whole new level if we use it right.

Art Night Downtown is over for the year, but next May it should be back better than ever and I want to see YOU there and having fun. Keep an eye on www.artnightdowntownrc.com to see what is planned for next summer!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A search for artist Dennis Linn finds a really great gallery in Rapid City

My painting of the view from M Hill
Last month I participated in the Urban Plein Air Competition held by The Dahl Fine Arts Center in downtown Rapid City
Starting with blank canvases you have eight hours to finish painting views of the city. The artwork in the competition was nice, and the artists were even nicer. Dennis Linn's intricate painting of Prairie Edge won uncontested. Even better he was genuinely fun to talk to. 
Winning artist Dennis Linn

I wanted to see more of his work, so a week later I went to the only gallery in Rapid City that represents him, the Alex Johnson Mercantile

This is a friendly looking shop right underneath the hotel of the same name, and I had never visited it.

What a great surprise I found!  

From inexpensive souvenirs to truly accomplished works of art, the Mercantile has a bit of everything. It is mostly the work of individual artisans or small collectives. This is exactly the kind of shop I am looking for when shopping locally!

But the shop does not truly light up until you start talking to co-owner Jennifer Johnson. She told me "I wanted the store to have a heartbeat" and she has certainly succeeded. This bright woman is clearly the soul of the shop and the reason it has such a welcoming feel.

Jennifer has a story about every piece in the shop and was happy to take the time to tell them.  She is so excited about the artists she works with that her energy is contagious.  
evocative paintings by Dennis Linn and Jeff Gulbransen

Items large and small

Leonard Yellow Horse's carved Cottonwood roots have warmth and humor that make them a favorite

this men's bracelet by Michael Running Shield shows incredible skill
These are just a few of the unique treasures in the shop.  Jennifer speaks beautifully of our city and the Black Hills and says "it's all right here" "it's coming through my front door" of the art and crafts the Mercantile carries. She wants everything in the store to be "touchable" and she is proud to "honor these friends in our stores" by displaying the pieces and telling their stories. 

 Next time I visit I want to take the time to make my own wire bracelet using the collection of beads she keeps near the counter. And I want to visit in the winter because the warm heart of this place will travel with me when I have to go back into the cold.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

On a mission to find artist David Uhl at Sturgis Rally

Today I am going to find artist David Uhl at the Sturgis Bike Rally. From his Facebook feed I know he is set up in the Gold Dust casino in Deadwood. To get to this town I have to drive about ten miles past the epicenter of The Rally so it is going to be an adventure all the way!
one group of bikers setting out for Sturgis
If you have not been in the Black Hills during the Sturgis rally it is hard to picture the effect it has on the entire area.  This time of year in the Black Hills Harleys often outnumber the four wheeled vehicles on our roads. Hundreds of thousands of people come to the Rally. The buzz and roar of Harley engines is everywhere and the streets are filled with sunburned people in leathers that have been riding, camping, and partying for a week or more.  

This is the perfect backdrop for the art of David Uhl. I started following him on facebook earlier this year after a friend posted one of his paintings to my timeline.  His paintings feature Harleys in scenes from american history, and he manages to imbue them with personality and passion that are hard to find anywhere in the art world. I want to meet him and see his work in person!
by David Uhl.  How can you not love this?
 Wednesday morning, right in the middle of Rally week, I set out in my trusty Prius.
My trip from Rapid City to Deadwood took me right past Sturgis and through ten miles of winding canyon to Deadwood.  This is  the old west town turned modern gambling hub that is featured in the HBO series called Deadwood.  This part of the journey, especially with thousands of motorcyles sharing the road, was quite an adventure.  My attention was more on getting there than on the exciting scene so i did not take photos for you, but next year this should be the subject of its own photo blog, the drive was that impressive. I kept driving right through the great festival that is downtown Deadwood and parked at the Mickelson trail head.  The Mickelson trail is the Black Hills own Rails to Trails project, a hundred miles of graded bike path running all through the hills on the old railroad bed.  The trail head in Deadwood is located where a bridge crosses the creek. It is an oasis of calm after the chaos of downtown Deadwood.

Bridge and creek at the trail head

The walk through town is surrounded by old stone and brick buildings. I decided to stop in at this one:

The Adams Museum is three stories of Deadwood history and americana in a historic building. The town was founded when US citizens flouted the treaty with the Lakota people to search for gold in the 1870s.  It quickly began to capitalize on its'reputation as a wild west town to bring in tourism. Things slowed down in the middle of the 20th century. In the 1990s the South Dakota constitution was changed to allow gambling and Deadwood once again began to bring in tourists with its' wild west reputation.  The Adams Museum tells the story of Deadwood with well designed displays and lots of historical objects.  The volunteers are friendly, but the real reason to visit is that it gives you information about things you will actually see as you walk through the town.

Around the next corner I found ,this great version of a coffee shop:

The Pump House is my favorite kind of business: locally owned and run with excellent food and customer service.  The building is an old gas station decorated with period signs and memorabilia so there is lots to look at. To top it off, the deli shares the space with a glass blower who was working at the furnace as I ate my excellent chicken salad sandwich.  They offer introductory glass blowing classes here.  This made me think of my step brother Aaron who started to learn this craft before he passed away earlier this year.  It would have been great to bring him here.

Just up the hill from the Adams Museum and the Pump House is the Mount Moriah Cemetary.  You can take a walking tour that includes the graves where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane are buried.  The personalities here are first class, but they are overpowered by the view of the hills and town.

As I walked back to town from visiting Mount Moriah, a doe walked across the street in front of me.  She was unphased by the constant noise of motorcycles traveling to the cemetary.
deer crossing
selfie with oak
The walk down the hill was a great time for contemplation.  I looked at the tree filled skyline and thought about the pictures of the founding of Deadwood, when the slopes were bare. The town was actually named because the trees here were dead.  I wonder why?  Was there a fire in the area in the years before the prospectors first invaded the area?  Or was there some tree disease like the pine beetles we are fighting now?  It is hopeful and inspiring to see how the trees grew from those bare slopes to make a majestic forest

1890s photo displayed at the Michelson trail head
the same skyline today

My final destination, the Gold Dust Casino, was just a half block past the Pump House.  The street was packed with bikes and riders, the Deadwood tour buses were in full swing, and there in the window working on his latest painting, was David. To get the feel of it, check out this video he posted on his facebook feed this week: video of Sturgis exhibit  

He donated a half dozen of his works to different charities that are doing fundraising at Sturgis this year:
If at all possible try to make the Biker Bells auction/reception at the Chip today, meet Jessi Combs as she's there to help raise funds. I have a feeling you may get a smoking deal on this massive 36x48 giclee we have donated. retails for $4850.00 — with Carlos Alberto Guglielmelli Viglioni and 4 others.

Photo: If at all  possible try  to make the Biker Bells auction/reception  at the Chip today, meet Jessi Combs as she's there to help raise funds. I have a feeling you may get a smoking deal on this massive 36x48  giclee we have donated. retails for $4850.00
I was able to pick up this fun book that shows his work and tells a lot of stories:
and yes, I was able to say Hi to David in person.

Have your own adventure by looking at David Uhl's website at this link:  uhlstudios.com

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Artist's Biography for Anastasia

rewriting my Artist Bio to use in upcoming shows.  I think it is turning out pretty well, what do you think?
It might need comic book illustrations to go with it though ;)

Here is the current version:

Anastasia Smith began in the Black Hills. Her real 4-H animals included dairy goats and rabbits, imaginary ones were horses. And dragons (yes, Danaerys is awesome) These imaginary animals required her to learn to draw so she could have some physical piece of the animals sharing her life. University painting and sculpture classes were a sideline to theater design because you can't make a living doing art....they said :(. Las Vegas theater tech jobs DO pay, and backstage on dozens of different productions and huge conventions is a great way to make your way in life. The pinnacle of a stage tech/artist career is a decade at the Jubilee showgirl extravaganza as part of the backstage crew AND the lead scenic artist, so that is where she went.

Because a decade of running the same show requires some really interesting hobbies, horses made a comeback. Gentle Joe and jousting horse Isabel led the way. Yes, the horses are real this time. Vaulting horses aren't quite dragons but they do prove in an undeniable physical way that barriers are meant to be broken. Learning acrobatics for the first time on the back of a moving horse challenges your boundaries. A lot. Two years of lessons with Alethea and Comet from Big Horse Productions made the impossible an everyday occurrence.

Even with real horses, capturing the beauty of a moment requires art. Drawing and painting were still a steady presence. Horses became a second job. Riding and equine massage brought concepts like boldness, confidence, subtlety, and communication into everyday use. Oh, and dogs. She began to share her life with dogs. High energy, intelligent, challenging dogs. Ways of understanding animals, people, and herself became more important. And what is art but communication? A way to reach out to people through shared aesthetics, then to see how the artist's viewpoint gets refracted through the viewer's. A brave new world, one where vague inspirations develop real world value. A world that cannot be entered without an audience.

Developing internal concepts like this naturally leads to a crisis point. The conquests of before had become a trap of false security. Art is, after all, a viable career choice. Not easy, but possible with support. So 2014 finds Anastasia succumbing to the siren call of the Black Hills and the comfort of family. Goals include sketching every day, respecting the limits of her body, and following inspirations. This means Kung Fu classes, naps, blogging, and podcasting and...lots of art. Refining and developing skills, finding new materials, and continuing to respect and follow inspiration. Another major goal is also to develop an audience that will give her different eyes, mindsets, and histories with which to view and develop her art. Welcome.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Sculpture and Painting: Hard at work

With so many things to be excited about I am finding lots of inspiration for new artwork. The spectacular Sun Dogs that were photographed near the end of the Yukon Quest sled dog race this year inspired a few paintings:
"Sun Dogs" Oil on Canvas 20'x24"

"Sun Dogs 2" work in progress, Oil on Canvas 24;x20"

South Dakota being the home of the North American Bison, I went to visit the 777 Buffalo Ranch and painted this fun piece of a sassy young cow using a painter's knife.  Here you can see the piece as it progressed:

quick underpainting

adding details

Finished!  "Buffalo Gal" Oil on Canvas 24'x20'
Vivid blue skies set the tone for this winter's paintings, giving the feel of openness that I am surrounded by when outdoors on the prairies here.

Sculptures are going well.  I started a series of Mustangs based on my photos from the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary near Hot Springs. The first one to be completed was this lone gelding standing under a tree:

"Mustang 1" cast plastic 4'x7 1/4'
The sample castings are looking very good.  I am experimenting with different paint and color treatments and copies of this sculpture will be available for purchase this summer!
Two other sculptures in this series are still in progress:
"Mustang 2" 4x7 1/4"
"Mustang 3" 4x 71/4

One other series has been developing itself as I work.  This tiny sculpture was designed to test new casting materials:
"Moon Horse" cast plastic 2 1/2'
The idea of an energetic moving figure surrounded by a moon appealed so much that two new sculptures are in progress using this design: 
"Moon" 8" round

"Moon Reversed" 8" round

Look for these pieces and more to be finished this spring!