I spent several days last week at the North Dakota Art Gallery Association 2016 Annual Meeting. Each year we gather at a member gallery’s location – this year we met in Ellendale, North Dakota. Since it was nearby, I chose to make the hour drive each morning and evening. I have to say, the drive south was a welcome change from my drive north to Jamestown. The sunrises and sunsets were stunning and fortunately the wildlife stayed out of my path.
Its always good to connect with gallery staff from across the state, Minot (the Taube Art Museum and Northwest Arts Center), Williston (James Memorial Art Center), Bismarck (Bismarck Art and Gallery Association & Bismarck State College), Cando Arts Center, and our host, the Ellendale Opera House Gallery. The primary purpose of the meeting is to exchange information, learn from each other and select exhibits for our galleries. Approximately 4-6 of the Jamestown Arts Center’s exhibits are derived from this meeting.
Williston shared the work of a new artist who will exhibit in Jamestown next spring/summer. His work is nothing ordinary…Beau Theige is a guitar maker. His electrified instruments are made of found objects and are fully functional. Visitors to the gallery are invited and encouraged to “play”. I can’t wait to share this exhibit, especially with the young musicians and seasoned veterans.
Lawrence Diggs, of Roslyn, South Dakota shared his journey to use the Arts (particularly poetry) to help South Dakota’s prison inmates cope and rehabilitate. You can hear some of his fascinating story on SD Public Radio. Diggs, a man who wears many hats, is also the director of the International Vinegar Museum. Located in a formerly vacant building on Roslyn’s Main Street, the museum features more than 200 vinegar varieties from around the world and has displays on every aspect of the sour substance, from its history to production methods. MORE…
The meeting included both the current and the past director of the North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) and we learned that there are no “givens” when it comes to the future of Arts funding but that “our” voices hold a great deal of power. It is important to express your opinions with your legislators. The organization, Arts North Dakota can help you find an contact your federal and state government representatives. The Arts Center receives operating support and Art for Life funds from NDCA and these grants help sustain programming.
On my final return trip home, I passed the turnoff to Whitestone Battlefield for the 6th time in 3 days and decided to turn around and take a look. I knew the importance of the historical site but I never took the time to visit. The site marks the scene of the fiercest clash between Indians and white soldiers in North Dakota and a tragic turning point in Native American history (September 3, 1863). For more information go to Whitestone. It was a surreal experience, I had a keen sense that I was intruding – perhaps I was, I was the only one there with the wind. Walking through the site I felt the weight of history and the song of the prairie at odds–the tragedy of the past’s events scaring the peace of the place. It was both moving and unsettling. It made me think about what’s happening around the globe, ancient hostilities borne out in the modern world. I considered our country’s short history in the grand scheme and I wish as “the youngster” we could lead in setting the world on a better course. I don’t know, maybe we just need a quiet space to think about the consequences of our actions–perhaps our leaders need a visit to Whitestone Battlefield in autumn.