It's hard to encapsulate all the memories I have of RedCan Jam into a tidy, condensed blog post, but I will try my best.
I arrived in Eagle Butt,e SD. on the mighty Cheyenne River Reservation on Wednesday night. I was greeted at the door by the staff of Cheyenne River Youth Project, and directed to proceed to the art room for a meeting. I walked in and looked around the room at a bunch of people that I considered to be heroes in graffiti culture. Four days later, I was proud to call them friends..
We discussed the plans for the next day (the first day of the 4 day event) and selected our supplies from a table with HUNDREDS of cans of spray paint. Afterwards, we walked to the center of Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park, and sat around a bonfire amidst walls of graffiti, Tipi's, and an endless night sky..
The next morning our team of six internationally recognized artists (and myself representing the locals) broke into two teams. One half painted murals within the park, while the others began murals in pre-approved walls throughout downtown Eagle Butte. On the second day, we switched places.
The experiences of painting in the park, and painting downtown were vastly different and incredibly moving for the artists involved. In the park, we created work and mentored the local youth as grass dancers and jingle dancers performed amidst our paintings. Drum groups shared traditional songs of prayer, and people took their pictures with us. It was a festival of epic proportion.
Downtown, we were challenged to create one masterpiece in one day. Something that would pay homage to Lakota Culture and invoke pride in the community who lived day to day amongst them. We pressed ourselves hard, and were rewarded with honking, thanks, and gifts. People brought us food and drink, cheered us on, and shared stories of their community with us. An older man spent the entire day with me, telling me the history of the building I painted on -a closed down bowling alley and rec center that he worked at for many years. Kids would come by with amazed faces and shout at us.
Wundr, an artist from Minneapolis told me about his encounter with a young man, about 11 or 12, who he visited with. He walked up seemingly exhausted, and described his route through town. The young man had a wiener dog in a Christmas sweater named "Hector".
The young man explained that he used to do the graffiti, but gave it up a "long time ago". Wundr was puzzled at just how long ago an 11 year old could've quit, but relished in the mental image of the boy and his sweatered accomplice roaming the streets looking for a canvas. Wundr encouraged him to visit the art park at Cheyenne River Youth Project, and offered to give him some pointers..
So many stories, so many memories. The town was so alive and so filled with pride. The experiences brought some of the artists to tears on more than one occasion.
We finished the event off with a day of painting in Art Alley, Rapid City. It was an awesome time with many local artists joining in, and performances by Scott Means, DJ Micah, and Delaena Rae Uses Knife. The out of state artists were amazed that something like Art Alley existed, and look forward to coming back again. All of the artists involved have come from a long line of success and opportunity. Many have travelled the world creating pieces, and done work for major shows and companies. All of them said they had never experienced anything like RedCan. It seemed like fate how the group gathered together under this unified vision, each bringing their own distinct magic to the event. They came here curious, and left with full hearts.. This isn't the last we'll see of them.
I want to give thanks to Cheyenne River Youth Project, the backbone of this event for their incredible efforts and vision, and their commitment to the youth of their community, the Rapid City Arts Council and the Art Alley Artists Guild for helping put it all together, The Hotel Alex Johnson for their sponsorship, and Destination Rapid City for their generous donation and sponsorship, and a heart-felt thanks to the building and business owners of Art Alley for their support. This is the kind of thing that changes lives and communities.
-Tyler "SIAMESE" Read
Photo credits: Richard Steinberger and Mo Hollis
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.
As promised, below is the link to Grand Rapids, MI. based band The Outer Vibe's new music video "like A Diamond", filmed in Art Alley and the Badlands...
We wanted to open up some dialog about an incident that happened in Art Alley last week.
Although we encourage everyone at every skill level to experience Art Alley as a tool for creative exploration, we recognize that this space exists because it adds a certain value to downtown, and our community. Sometimes it is tough to balance the two and find where to draw the line.
...other times, it really isn't that difficult.
Granted, neither of these images will appeal to EVERYONE, but there are two distinct differences that separate them. EFFORT and CLEVERNESS OF MESSAGE.
We decided to take the opportunity to open public dialog and bring up the question of how expression is maximized, and we took it directly to the place where the question was raised in our minds. We first buffed the vandalized piece (mostly because of the amount of obscenities that were involved) and then we posted these three bills in its place...
What are your thoughts?
Click HERE or on the image to see The Outer Vibe's new video filmed partially in Art Alley!
At the Art Alley Artist Guild's usual Friday morning coffee at The Factory we were discussing art and how art relates to life - as we usually do - and the word "uppity" was used in regards to art. A lot of times art becomes uppity. Is it supposed to be uppity?
Art Alley seems anything buy uppity, but I can easily see it becoming uppity. When I think of bohemian street artists I always think of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat was essentially a homeless teenage drug addict running with the SAMO crew in Lower Manhattan during the late 1970's who couldn't hardly give away his paintings - much less sell them - but then he met Warhol. Warhol made his art "Uppity" and the world changed for him. The last Basquiat I saw sold went for $14.9 million at auction.
Is art uppity? Should it be? Does it get better or worse when it becomes uppity? It becomes worth a lot more money when it becomes uppity. Is it better when it becomes worth more money or is it still exactly the same?
So much happens in Art Alley every week.. It occurred to the Art Alley Artists' Guild that it would be great if the community had an opportunity to get a recap of these things, whether it be a traveling artist who creates a new mural, or the goals and topics that we discuss at our Friday coffee and conversations. Here is the recap for this week. Let us know what you think!
Tuesday, 9/15/14- Art Alley Artists' Guild OPEN PAINT SESSIONS
Art Alley Artists' Guild hosts Open Paint Sessions every third Tuesday of the month. This week Rapid City Public Library brought their teen advisory program down to participate.
Thursday, 9/18/14- The Rapid City Arts Council brought a class from Wyoming's Sundance High School down to Art Alley for a tour. The class was amazed at the variety of work they saw.
Friday, 9/19/14- Art Alley Artists' Guild 8am "Coffee and Conversations" at the Factory Salon. Open to the public. Anyone interested in Art Alley is encouraged to come join in the conversation!
Here is what was discussed.
-Featuring guild member profiles on the blog so people can get to know the people behind the scenes in the alley.
-ways to get artists involved from more genres of art/ welcoming back artists that feel displaced in the alley through collaborative projects.
-we took a look at the generation of local graffiti artists coming up in place of the former generation, and evaluated our mentorship of them.
We will continue to share these weekly happenings, and encourage you to share with us. We feel it is important to document all the amazing things that happen here, and hope you will help us identify and document these things as well, as all things in this space are so temporary.
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.