To understand Prairie Star Gallery better, it's
helpful to know more about the city in which we're
located. The mural above, by James Starkey,
might be a good place to start. James painted
it in the main hallway of Killian Community College.
Founder Tom Killian is at top right.
The mural, drawn in seven panels to suggest the
historical Indigenous Seven Councils, depicts the
substance and spirit of Sioux Falls. Beginning at
top left, the buffalo hide painting recalls the land
we call Dakota
as it was 200 or 500 years ago, before the mapping
expedition by Lewis and Clark.
The Plains were alive with buffalo; warriors
protected their land and occasionally encroached upon that of
their rivals. The mobile tipi allowed the
bands or tribes
(some comprised of as many as 10,000 people) to move place to
place on the vast northern plains, as necessary to
accommodate the changing seasons and varying sources
of food. The
Lakota are the namesake of the Falls of the
Sioux River, shown spilling over the quartzite, or
that served as the basic construction materials for
much of original Sioux Falls. Around the turn
of the century, thousands of tons of
jasper were transported by rail to Chicago and other growing cities
across the upper Midwest, to make
the first hard-surfaced city streets.
The original "Old" Courthouse,
top mid-left, was constructed a
century ago from the quartzite quarried from several
places around town, notably East Sioux Falls (see "City"
tab, above). In 1889, the citizenry easily could
see the Courthouse's clock tower from anywhere in
town. Today, the old Courthouse is a fascinating museum. The new Court
House isn't nearly as interesting, nor beautiful.
Below the Court House, James depicts
a stylized version of Michelangelo's David, which is
one of two copies in the U.S. that were created from
the original. It can be seen at Fawick Park. Like
any other city in the country, Sioux
Falls is populated with citizenry who range from
prude to sophisticate, so the city fathers
"positioned" David so modest folks weren't
The center panel illustrates
the people that make Sioux
Falls the mini-cosmopolitan city we have become. We're a diverse bunch, with
31 languages spoken,
publicly or privately. Indigenous people make
up approximately 7% of the city's population.
There is palpable discrimination, unfortunately, but
we believe folks are becoming somewhat more educated.
The city's Festival of Cultures is evidence that
diversity is being celebrated more than it is being
lamented. Still, perhaps once a week,
someone will step inside our gallery only to
gasp "It's an Indian Gallery", and bolt out the door
before we can allay their fears. We try to
give folks a visual clue as to what to expect before
they come in. James Starkey created our
storefront sign, that being a hubcap from a 1950 Lincoln Continental,
painted in medicine-wheel colors, adorned with four
from the root of a cedar tree. Surely you
wouldn't expect to find Hummel figurines inside
such an establishment, would you? Photo below
was taken during the Holiday Festival of Lights
parade downtown, one of many street celebrations
Sioux Falls folks love to hold.
Continuing to the right on the mural,
at top there's Tom
Killian, addressing students or a city group as he
so often does. He, along with Mayor Dave Munson,
and others, have the unenviable task of being visionaries
for a herd of 150,000 followers. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.
Panel 6, bottom right, is the view to the west,
along 10th Street as it crosses Phillips Avenue. Prairie Star Gallery is
located just to the left of the yellowish Piper
Jaffrey building on the southwest corner. It's
easy to tell us apart. They're a stock
brokerage house -- they actually make money.
That's a yellow Hummer parked across the street from the
brokerage house. It hides our
black '90 Toyota Camry, parked behind it.
The final, 7th panel, is at the upper right.
This panel leaves the materialistic world behind, as
it leads us to a world of mystery and reunion, where
we thank and honor all living creatures and the
spirits of all who have gone before us and all who
come after us. It depicts Turtle Island, our Earthly home on the North American
continent. Beyond Turtle Island, the Spirit
World exists, not as a place of witches and goblins
as some might believe, but as a world of beloved
ancestors, from generations we do not know.
It is the Spirit World that differentiates
Indigenous cultures from our own, because the
Indigenous people truly believe in the continuation
of the Spirit, in seven generations of the Spirit,
and in the connectedness among all of God's
creatures, great and small.
To fully appreciate Indigenous art, it helps if
you check your skepticism at the door of the
gallery, and simply trust your intuition as you immerse
yourself in sounds, smells, textures, and beauty the
equal of which you've never experienced before.
Prairie Star Gallery invites you to explore a world
beyond the here-and-now. It's a world you may
never have known existed -- a world of ethereal