Ordinary People, Extraordinary Art!

Multicultural Day, Falls Park


notes about the photos...

Featured in the above photos are Marvin Weatherwax, an unidentified man, and Gordon Bird drumming; Gordon and JoAnne Bird's daughter, Jackie, hoop dancing; and, their daughter Sherri, who is doing a traditional Lakota woman's dance.

Festival of Cultures was held June 18, 2005 at Falls Park.  More info can be found by clicking the Events tab.

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America's Trusted Source of Authentic, Original Plains Indian Art

about Prairie Star ...

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 jasper, rocks 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 offended. 

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 feathers, suspended 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 beauty.

More information about Sioux Falls can be found by clicking the "Downtown" tab, at top.