|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|