It was raining and a chilly 56°F when I left the Ingalls Homestead at 1:00. I drove past more lakes and wetlands for 38 miles on 14E, while the Mama Mia! cast sang of having a dream and pushing through darkness for another mile. I passed Lake Sinai and then arrived in Brookings, population 22,943.
I went through the Subway drive-through to pick up a late lunch; it took forever, but a girl needed to eat. 🙂
Brookings is home to South Dakota State University; the South Dakota Art Museum is a small but beautiful museum on the campus. On this day, there were four stunning exhibits.
The first exhibit was Harvey Dunn (1884-1952). Dunn was an American painter and teacher.He was born near Manchester, South Dakota, on March 8, 1884. The son of homesteaders, he attended school in a one-room schoolhouse with his brother and sister and helped his parents with farming.
In 1901, Dunn began studying art at South Dakota Agricultural College (Now South Dakota State University). After a year, he enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which he attended from 1902 to 1904; there he met the famous illustrator Howard Pyle, who became his mentor from 1904 to 1906. He became a commercial illustrator and during World War I, he was chosen by the American Expeditionary Forces to document and illustrate the war for purposes of propaganda, recruitment and public education. After he returned from the war, his interest in commercial illustration declined.
Beginning in 1925, Dunn started making regular treks back to South Dakota from where he was living in New Jersey. It was during this period, from 1925 to 1950, that he created the bulk of what would become known as his prairie pioneer paintings.
He is best known for his prairie-intimate masterpiece, The Prairie is My Garden. In this painting, a mother and her two children are out gathering flowers from the quintessential prairie of the Great Plains.
The exhibit celebrated the artist’s desire to fully, deeply and sensitively render truths about humanity through his depiction of others. He emphasized the importance of empathy. I loved the amazing paintings The Prairie Is My Garden (1950), After School, After the Blizzard, and Jedediah Smith in the Badlands. The captivating paintings depicted people and nature fluid in their interactions.
Another exhibit was on Afghan War Rugs: the modern art of Central Asia. Women wove rugs into rich pictorial images that recount a broader and more contemporary story of their land.
Purchased throughout Central Asia and Europe, the over 40 rugs in this collection were selected for their exceptional quality, rarity, and surprising content.
Western interest in rugs and carpets from Afghanistan grew in the 19th century and has continued largely unabated despite civil wars, Soviet intervention, and foreign attempts to mitigate war. But war rugs – rugs with armaments or examples of modernity – are the latest artistic iteration in a long history of traditional hand-woven works from Central Asia. Ethnic communities such as the Baluch, Turkmen, and Hazara teach us about Afghanistan, its history and politics, foreign involvement in the country, and evolution of design in rugs and carpets.
War rugs are unique to Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, to which many weavers fled following foreign invasions and civil war. Some feature maps, portraits of military heroes, monuments or cityscapes, but the most avidly collected examples showcase weaponry and armaments. Machine guns, assault rifles, bombs, mines, tanks, war planes, and drones figure prominently. War rugs produced after 1979 derive their imagery from television broadcasts, propaganda posters, and first-hand observation of a country under siege (from a plaque at the exhibit).
Another fascinating exhibit was A Life’s Work: Paul Goble (1933-2017) Illustrations of American Indian Stories. Paul Goble was born in England in 1933. He grew up in a family where art and literature were valued and encouraged. He grew up with a deep fascination for the indigenous people of North America. As a young man, he made several visits to the U.S. to spend time on reservations in South Dakota and Montana. Goble moved to America permanently in 1977 and became an American citizen in 1984. He died in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 2017.
Throughout his career, Goble won countless awards for his writing and artwork. In 1979, he received the Caldecott Medal, which is one of the most prestigious awards in all of children’s literature. His Caldecott winner, the illustrated children’s book The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, is just one of over 40 books in a career extending back to his first title, Red Hawk’s Acocunt of Custer’s Last Battle, published in 1969. Throughout his career, Goble focused on Plains American Indian history and retellings of traditional American Indian stories.
Paul Goble has given his original paintings to the South Dakota Art Muusem. The art displayed was from his different books and different stages of his career.
He and his wife, Janet, live in Rapid City, South Dakota.
S.D. Nelson: Sharing My Vision (1950 – ) shows the artist’s fluid style and traditional Native American imagery, which combines movement, color, and form into a visual celebration of life.
Nelson’s artwork appears in books, greeting cards, and CD covers. He has served as the author and illustrator for 11 children’s books. His books have received the American Indian Library Association Honor Book Award in 2016, and many other awards. He has lectured at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North and South Dakota. His paintings offer a fresh contemporary interpretation of traditional Lakota images.
Last, I stopped in at the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum, also on the campus. It is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of South Dakota’s agricultural history and rural heritage. There I found giant harvesters, tractors, and displays of engines. It showed the evolution of farming technology. I still didn’t understand how all this equipment was used in farming, but it certainly was an impressive collection.
I got on 29N, once again in the midst of cornfields. I got behind a wide load and couldn’t pass. I arrived in Watertown, population 21,482, at 4:20. I checked in at the Quality Inn & Suites Watertown.
I ran out for an early dinner at Dempsey’s Brewery Pub & Restaurant. I had French onion soup that was too salty, a Blue Moon, and a side house salad. The food was mediocre.
Here is my journal spread for this day.
Information from the exhibits at the South Dakota Art Museum is from plaques and brochures created by the museum.
*Drove 246.3 miles; Steps: 8,791, or 3.73 miles*
*Sunday, September 8, 2019*
Lots of beautiful and very interesting art work here Cathy.
Thanks, Carol. I was impressed with this compact but beautifully done museum. 🙂
Cathy! What a stunning post! The artwork you introduced us to is incredible, original, beautiful, fantastical, and profound. Just spectacular!! I will so miss these glimpses into American life as well as your international posts, when you stop blogging. Many of your posts bring me to tears because of their poignancy and introspection.
I hope you are recovered finally from your mysterious chronic discomfort healthwise, though I am sure the current political backdrop to your life is certainly to blame at least in part for making you feel sick. As a spectator to what is happening in America, it still stuns and pains and shocks and bewilders how anyone can still agree that Trump is worth another four years. It appalls and frightens us as much as it does you, though we are buffered by our borders.
What happened to our beautiful world? The beautiful America that always stood head and shoulders above much of the world as a beacon of trust and hope and honesty and judicial fairness? It is burning now at both ends, whether by flames of fire or flames of hatred, we fear it will be consumed and what will rise from the ashes with be an America that no one recognizes. What is WRONG with people that they STILL support this sick, dangerous fool with dreams of dictatorship??? We just do not get it. What is the appeal of an ignorant, lying, hate-filled bully determined to run America into the ground??? Oh Cathy, I know how much this is causing you to suffer and for sure is affecting your health on top of your digestive irritations.
Re Richmond, and in general, I have wanted to ask you this. What do you think of all the statues coming down? Why did not just put more up, ones that reflected opposing views and heroes of black and brown America for contrast and discussion? Why take down what could be teachable moments in time and thus remove whatever offends someone? What offends can be a positive sometimes. We do not have that many statues here but of course, they are also being attacked because this generation believes they have the right to judge the past through today’s eyes and therefore destroy what helped form us as a nation good and bad. So stupid.
Well that is all for now, no need to write too much you know I write so much but just let me know how you are doing with your health and how Mike is doing. He is such a lovely man, you really are so lucky to have each other. I will so miss your blogs, they are my glimpse into a world I never occupied for very long. No day trips to Toronto anymore though I hope to do that soon once I feel okay about taking the bus again. People are pretty good here with masks and social distancing, and I have worn masks outside 100% of the time since March already, making my own colourful masks and keeping to myself.
Anyway, I wish you both a lovely Sunday, and God help the USA that sanity reigns 50 days from now. We are all holding our breath that this Trumpian nightmare finally ends with a thundering result that not even he can manipulate into him holding onto power.
Sending you a hug virtual hug!!!!
xxx Oh did you see my post that Steve Orr had died suddenly in Abu Dhabi?? Did you know him? He was one of our American colleagues at UNizwa. That makes three of our colleagues who have passed away under age 61 now. So sad. xxxxx Take care and be safe xxxxxxx hi to Mike!!!!!
Hi there, I left up some of your comment and removed the personal stuff, which I will reply to in a comment later if you don’t mind.
I don’t need to respond to your comments about Trump because I’m in total agreement with you. You know I despise him with every ounce of my being.
As for the Confederate statues, I have to disagree with you. I wrote this in my July cocktail hour: The Confederate monuments have dominated Richmond’s landscape for decades — some of them even longer — since they were first erected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to bemoan the lost cause of the Confederacy in the Civil War. People demonstrating against racial injustice have torn down or defaced statues of these prominent Confederate leaders, as well as other historic figures with known racist pasts.
On July 18, Mike and I drove down to Richmond to visit our daughter, Sarah, who I hadn’t seen since January. Wearing masks, we went to Monument Avenue to see what was left of the four statues, and the Robert E. Lee statue, which is slated to be removed unless a case before the court decides it won’t be removed. Since then, some of the other high profile statues have been removed after protesters defaced the statues. The Robert E. Lee statue has not yet been removed, but Virginia’s governor has vowed its removal.
I believe there is no need to preserve these statues. I have had people argue that we need to preserve our “heritage,” or that this is part of our history. Actually, many statues honoring Confederate racists were installed during the Jim Crow era to remind black people of their subjugation under whites. They serve only as intimidation. It must be remembered that Confederates were traitors to the Union, and fought to secede from the United States in order to preserve slavery. They should not be honored in any way, shape or form. People who want to learn “history” should read history books, as monuments are meant to honor people. These traitors deserve no honor.
So there’s my opinion about that in a nutshell.
I’m glad you’ve been able to get so much done on your to-do list during this lockdown time. I’m hoping that sanity wins in November myself. It will get a lot uglier before then, I’m afraid, and even after, as that asshole has pretty much vowed to contest the election. 😦 Enjoy your Sunday!
What a fascinating post. Each one of these artists I feel really warrants a separate post. I love the Harvey Dunn pictures, well I love them all but he stands way above the rest for me on a viewing of your photographs. I might be different if I were to see the paintings in person. Thank you for bringing these to our attention.
Thanks so much, Mari. Yes, the Harvey Dunn paintings were fabulous, especially in person where I could see every brush stroke. They all seemed to be alive with movement. I loved going to museums where local art and history was featured. I’m used to the museums in the D.C. area, which are more national and international in scope. 🙂
I’ve never heard of Harvey Dunn, but I admire the paintings very much, especially the one you feature of the woman and children gathering flowers. Totally agree with your reply about statues.
I had never heard of him either, Anabel, but I was very impressed, especially seeing the paintings in person and up close. I could see every brushstroke and could practically feel the prairie wind. Such a beautiful museum. 🙂
As for the Confederate statues, I’ve gotten in several disagreements about them with various people. I don’t think statues are built to teach history. These in particular were built to intimidate people of color, to remind them of “their place” during the Jim Crow era. Statues are meant to honor people, but these are people who deserve no honor. And history can be learned by visiting museums or reading books. Even watching documentaries. You don’t learn much of anything staring at a statue, especially one taken out of context. Growing up in Virginia, I was taught (brainwashed I should say) about the honor of the lost cause of the Confederacy. What bull malarkey we were taught.
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I love Dunn’s works! The paintings of the prairie and the blizzard got me. I can almost feel the chill in the latter seep through. Hope you have been well. x
I’m so glad you like Harvey Dunn! I was bowled over by his work. There is so much movement and life in these paintings, especially when seen up close. You can definitely feel the environment in these paintings.
As for me, all has been pretty well. Lots of challenges, but I hope some of them will be resolved soon. 🙂 I hope you are well too!
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I am sure you will work through them. All the best for ironing out the creases. 🙂
I am fine, thank you for asking, Cathy. x
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