Over the next four days, we will be providing detailed information about how the Art Alley permit system works, and why it came to be.
Part 1. What it isn't.
There is a lot of discussion surrounding recent happenings in Art Alley. That is good. It is better to have an engaged community than a passive and unresponsive one. It means Art Alley means something to you, like it does to me, and all of us at the Rapid City Arts Council. This engagement and value is what it takes to make a space like Art Alley thrive rather than wither away.
That being said, it’s important to get all of the information out there so that people can begin to move forward without being slowed down by misinformation. Some community members have concerns dealing with censorship and critiquing artwork with the new permit process. These are valid concerns.
Some have speculated that this is a grab for control or driven by money. It is not. It is a partnership between building owners (Owners), the Rapid City Arts Council (RCAC), the City of Rapid City, artists and community members.
Someone said the “Big Brother Art Nazi’s have come to tell you what art is.” This is also not true. The partnership values the rights of the Owners and artists alike in the creative process. Working together we can help artists grow, become familiar with the Permit System and gain valuable experience creating public art work. At the same time we, as a community, will be respecting the Owners and their private property rights.
The RCAC was the selected facilitator of the Art Alley Permit System because for over 45 years we have provided creative opportunities with a focus on accessibility to the people of Rapid City. Our staff are capable, competent and invested in keeping Art Alley open as a creative asset for the locals and visitors.
We will work with the Owners and Artists to sustain this amazing space - filled with diverse artistic expression that is exciting, raw, real and family friendly - while always respecting artist’s perspectives and the Owners rights.
Check back tomorrow for the next piece in our four part series about the permit system, and please join us for a public reception with artists, business and building owners for the permit system on Tuesday, April 12th from 5:30-7pm at The Dahl Arts Center.
This summer was incredibly busy for the Art Alley Guild. We had our hands in so many different projects, not just in Art Alley, but throughout the region.
New art for Raphael the white tiger at Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. Artists from the Art Alley Guild created art in several locations at the sanctuary to liven up the atmosphere.
Artists included Naomi Even-Aberle, Tyler Read, Aaron Remington, and Brandon Umphlet.
2015's Culture Shock Festival. Guild artists Aaron "Rage" Remiongton, and Tyler "Siamese" Read provided a live paint demo. Guild member Amber Le Blanc helped people create
In August, the Art Alley Guild helped with an awesome event in College Park called "CommUNITY College Park Block Party". Paint Demo's by Felix "Neverland" Rafal and Tyler "Siamese" Read. Spray paint stencil mono prints
From sweeping up glass and picking up trash, to scraping off meter windows several volunteers made Thursday a "Day of Caring" in Art Alley; part of United Way's Annual event.
The efforts started out with a quick tour and brief history of the space by Art Education Engagement Coordinator Tyler Read. From humble origins of covering up gang graffiti to lasting memories of first time murals, the volunteers listened eagerly to Art Alley's story.
"When organizations offer to help with projects like this, it makes a huge impact. Not only does it give the Art Alley a face lift, but it gives us a chance to share some insight about this place so that more people understand it and the magic that is capable of," said Tyler Read.
Joined by Art Alley Guild member Tyler "Siamese" Read and Naomi Even-Aberle the 20 volunteers literally swept up and down Art Alley; helping to transform the space. The atmosphere was warm, with temps of 90 plus degrees, but the volunteers were not deterred from their work. Within a few short hours Art Alley looked new, organized and ready for some new action.
"The volunteers were real go-getters," remarked Naomi. "They didn't shy away from some of the messier spots and they clean up the whole time with a smile on their face. It is wonderful to see members of the community give back in such a big way. Especially in a community space like Art Alley".
Until next time, the Rapid City Arts Council and the Art Alley Guild would like to send out a big THANK YOU to all the amazing volunteers that came out today all over town for the 2015 Day of Caring.
Art Alley Guild Minutes | 6/9/2015
Art Alley Guild is committed to being a positive creative outlet, dedicated to the sustainability and accessibility of Art Alley through innovation and community engagement.
The Art Alley Guild meets monthly on the second Tuesday from 5:30 - 7pm in the Bruce H. Lien Cultural Cafe at the Dahl Arts Center. This group is a volunteer group and everyone is welcome to attend the free meetings.
Introduction of guild members
The beat of the street was the theme for this month's Open Paint Sessions. Art Alley Guild hosted the first summer Open Paint Sessions on Saturday, June 20 from 2-4pm in Art Alley. Participants of all ages were welcome to try their hand at street art, graffiti and so much more.
Young and old a like joined Guild Members Tyler "Siamese" Read, Felix "Neverland", Anastasia Smith and Tone while picking up a spray paint can, creating a stencil or just enjoying the creative atmosphere. Over 50 participants journeyed into Art Alley, created and engaged.
All Open Paint Sessions are family friendly, free and open to the public. The Art Alley Guild is committed to being a positive creative outlet, dedicated to the sustainability and accessibility of Art Alley through innovation and community engagement.
To learn more or be apart of this creative group check out http://www.artalleyrc.com/
Check out the minutes from Tuesday's Guild meeting.
Art Alley Guild Minutes | 6/9/2015
• Art Alley Guild is committed to being a positive creative outlet, dedicated to the sustainability and accessibility of Art Alley through innovation and community engagement.
The Art Alley Guild meets monthly on the second Tuesday from 5-7pm in the Bruce H. Lien Cultural Cafe & Gallery at the Dahl Arts Center. This group is a volunteer group and everyone is welcome to attend the free meetings.
• Introduction of guild members
o 8 participants were in attendance.
• Summer time line – see attachment.
o A volunteer e-mail will be sent out following the meeting detailing the events and volunteer opportunities available to the guild members.
o Photographers, art assistants, clean up etc. opportunities available
• Bunker Hill clean-up day.
o Pat Wyss offered to pay for supplies to facilitate clean-up of Bunker Hill. Graffiti has been spotted on rocks and cement areas on top of Bunker Hill. The Guild will purchase the supplies for a clean-up day. Volunteer assignments will follow.
• Building & Business owners meeting June 25 6pm-8pm.
o A building and business owners meeting will take place on June 25. This meeting will discuss summer programming as well as the issues and concerns for the building and business owners. This meeting is free and open to the public.
• RedCan Paint Jam
o July 11 in Rapid City. See website www.artalleyrc.org for more detailed information. A volunteer list will be set out later.
o A summer buff and paint day were discussed as a way to help lift up the look of the alley.
o Guild members were encouraged to share information on the Facebook page.
o We also encouraged members to volunteer to be a guest blogger for the Art Alley blog.
o We were reminded that mentoring one individual is easier than trying to mentor a whole community. We need to engage at the community level but also at the individual level.
At its core Art Alley is just painting on other people’s buildings. It is illegal everywhere else, and not every building owner is thrilled with it. I don’t think it is or should be “No Rules” for that fact among others. Moreover, that was not the agreement that was made almost two years ago with the building owners and the community. Where I believe Art Alley needs to go, and can go, is to help our community, particularly the kids.
I’ll say more. It hasn’t been my experience that the new “Art Alley” works. When it originally started over ten years ago there was a small group committed to daily maintenance, but even then it was difficult. After the troubles it had, the concept of “The Guild” was born which was to be a group that took over that responsibility for of Art Alley. That concept has not come together. Tyler does Black Book Sessions every Tuesday at The Dahl to help facilitate this, and I have the Guild Coffee every Friday morning. Black Books are under attended, and virtually no one shows up for coffee (a few have, thanks to everyone!). We have reached out in multiple ways to be proactive to getting participation in managing Art Alley, but still there is very little participation on that side of things. It takes daily maintenance. Moreover, there are only about 5 to 7 artists that actively or semi-actively participate consistently in providing art in the alley so it is probably not the bastion of creativity many might think it to be.
Months before the public criticism came to the surface two years back, I had contacted Tyler privately and expressed my concerns about Art Alley. Because Tyler is a good man, he immediately took responsibility and tried to correct things. Over the next few months there were meetings, including the big one at The Dahl in March of 2013, and a very small group came together to help. Soon, however, that small group moved on to other things and less and less of the day to day maintenance of Art Alley was being shared, and more and more it fell on the very few. That is where the problem came from in the first place.
My desire with “Art Alley, inc.” is purely to use social entrepreneurship in a manner to find the sustainable Win-Win to see Art Alley exist into the future. If it doesn’t get destroyed in negativity here, it can provide a better and more equitable management of Art Alley. It can also create much needed funding for K-5 visual arts programs for our children and many opportunities for artists. My motives were completely to help the children and the youth of Rapid City and my initial reserve of the trademark nearly two years ago, was to protect it and keep it in our community as an asset to Art Alley and prevent it from being hijacked from some outside source for its own agenda. There is nothing whatsoever in this that prevents artists from anything, and it is so very unfortunate that this idea of social entrepreneurship has been set up for failure before it can even get underway. Any licensing fees (where they would even apply, and in most cases that can be envisioned they would not) would not go to the company, they would go directly to the kids programs. I hope the company is run by the young people, and have been in discussion with various youth organizations for months now to turn this into a reality.
I further don’t believe that a Non Profit model is sustainable as (1) I truly can’t envision anyone donating much in the way of funding to Art Alley, (2) even if funding was to materialize it would further dilute the already scarce funding dollars for existing arts organizations in Rapid City instead of collaborating with them for mutual benefit, and (3) who would do it, no one really shows up now to manage Art Alley?
The fact is that no one has used “Art Alley” as a trademark, and so I don’t really see what the issue is. However, my desire was that the trademark, if and when it was to be used, would be for the benefit of Art Alley, the artists of the alley and the area, our community and our kids. I strongly believe that if this isn’t destroyed here, working together we can create the most innovative public art project in the United States today, one that could become the model for others across the country. I am in Art Alley every day and have been since before it became Art Alley. I want what is best for everyone here
I’m not hard to find and so if anyone has any questions they are free to come ask me, I would love to tell you about this opportunity and visit with you about your ideas as well.
On the other hand, perhaps this is a signal that my time in Art Alley has come to a close. When Art Alley had reached its low point and I agreed to help get it back on track I did so because I care. Back then I had seen some movement where the next generation was stepping up to take over Art Alley’s day to day needs, and that was encouraging. At that time I told myself I would dedicate two years to helping it right itself and become sustainable. That was in the fall of 2012.
If there becomes a consensus - built upon the truth and not what is going on here - that everyone desires some other manner in which Art Alley should operate, then I will step out and end my participation. With all of this that has happened I honestly think that it may well be time for me to retire from Art Alley anyway. James and the others who are so vehemently opposed to finding a sustainable way for Art Alley to be a community asset can then step up with their program. I hope whatever they come up with helps everyone, especially the children. I will, of course, always wish Art Alley all of the best.
The alley maintains its ying and yang balance of amazing and disappointing this week..
The thing that holds steady and permanent there is its potential. A poorly executed scrawl is never more than one coat of paint away from being something amazing. Maybe even revolutionary..
That's what keeps the Art Alley Artists' Guild focused and working towards tomorrow. Here's a recap of what was discussed at our Friday morning coffee group.
-Guild member Naomi did a heavy amount of brainstorming over the past couple of weeks, and presented an idea that would take last months special Cancer awareness project that occurred in the alley to the next level. As a sitting member of the Healing Arts Committee under the Cancer Care Institute, She suggested a large scale community event for October of 2015 tentatively called "Paint it Pink". The project would be a collaborative project between the community and multiple organizations including the Guild, Cancer Care Institute, the Rapid City Arts Council, and several others. This project would include several participatory projects including a massive pink buff, a community mural, and cancer awareness inspired stencils for sale with proceeds going directly to LOCAL cancer care. Big things are in the works!
-Tyler discussed plans for next year to work on larger scale group murals throughout the summer that would incorporate deeper narrative as well.
-In other news, the trailer for MTV's new series "Rebel Music came out this week to much acclaim, and guess who is featured in it? That's right! Art Alley! Native hip hop performer, Frank Waln is followed through many places including his performance at Main Street Square, and some breathtaking shots in Art Alley. It should be noted that world famous graffiti artist, Shepard Fairey (OBEY) helped direct this film! See the video HERE.
Since Art Alley's low point some short two years ago, we have seen a lot of improvements. Recall that we promised the building owners that we would create a positive culture in and around Art Alley in return for their continued permission to use their buildings as the canvass for our art. One of the most promising aspects of this is the small, but ever growing, Art Alley Leadership Group.
Recently a small group of that group spent a great deal of time downtown cleaning up tags that were thoughtlessly (and illegally) put on buildings, poles, mailboxes, garbage bins etc. contrary to our promise. Thanks to everyone involved in this effort.
The question everyone who paints in, or just enjoys Art Alley, needs to ask themselves is this: Am I pulling my own weight? If you participate in Art Alley but do not contain your art to Art Alley and go rogue, and someone else has to clean it up for you to make good on our collective promise to the building owners and Rapid City, you are not pulling your weight and that's not cool.
Art Alley Guild
The Art Alley Guild is committed to being a positive creative outlet, dedicated to the sustainability and accessibility of Art Alley through innovation and community engagement.