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.