Supporting Local Art
Celebrating the Intersection of Art and Philanthropy
At the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, we believe ...
Art has the power to connect us, to unite us and to inspire us in the pursuit of bold ideas and positive, meaningful change.
Philanthropy is the act of giving of ourselves to create a stronger, more vibrant community – one where a spirit of giving and care inspires us to develop solutions, break barriers and build bridges toward a brighter tomorrow.
We're proud to invest in community-based arts organizations and to support local artists. For the past number of years, we've worked with local artists to create original art which we feature on the cover of our annual reports and display in our office, located inside the historic Depot at Cherapa Place.
In October 2020, artwork commissioned by the Foundation, along with works from local emerging artists, was featured in an exhibit titled "Agents of Change" at the Washington Pavilion's Everist Gallery.
Learn about the Foundation's art collection and the artists behind each work:
"A Better Day" | 2023 Annual Report
For mixed media artist Mary Payton, art has been not only a way to express her creativity, it has offered hope and healing during some of life’s darkest moments.
A native of the Black Hills, and a graduate of South Dakota State University, Payton got sick in 2015 and was eventually diagnosed with Visual Snow Syndrome, a rare condition “where patients see a type of TV static in their vision. It's almost like they have millions of tiny little dots in their vision all the time, and it's throughout their visual field," said Dr. Robertson, a Mayo Clinic neurologist.
During the darkest depths of her illness, Payton “spent about six weeks not being able to use my eyes much at all — they were either closed or behind dark glasses.”
Her mind’s eye, however, was seeing in new and extraordinary ways. “All throughout that time, I was imagining the things I was going to paint when I could paint again. I was picturing them in my mind."
Following her diagnosis, Payton said art became a form of therapy.
“My eyes were extremely painful and I suffered from daily migraines. But I wanted to paint, so I started to paint almost every night and eventually, I realized that it was changing me physically. It was letting my eyes relax. It was letting my brain relax. It became therapy for me — both mentally and physically. I was just letting go, exploring new media, new colors and new techniques. It changed my mindset. It made me feel better physically.”
Eventually, she began to experience feelings of gratitude for her “new vision.”
“Now it’s kind of like seeing through a filter. I’ve just learned to sort of work it out. In a lot of ways, I’m really grateful for the Visual Snow Syndrome because I don’t think I would be painting the way I am now without it. I know I wouldn’t. It’s really interesting to have this really unique view of the world.”
Working on canvas with pigment sticks, water-soluble pencils and crayons, oil and soft pastels, acrylic paint and ink, markers, spray paint, and gold foil, Payton said "A Better Day" was "painted with thoughts of community."
"I feel as though my work is often about community — about connecting, sharing joy, belonging, expressing, explaining. I want the journey of creating this mixed media work to not only be for me, but also for the viewer. I hope that when my work is completed, and someone is standing before it, that person can feel the energy and joy that was laid onto the canvas. The history of all of the paint and marks my hand brought to the piece is theirs to discover, to seek and keep as their own. My intentions for each piece are literally written as first marks, and then the rest is an ebb and flow of adding, altering, subtracting, seeking, and pondering."
"Hometown Enchiridion" | 2022 Annual Report
For mixed media painter Jana Anderson, the artist behind "Hometown Enchiridion," featured on the cover of our 2022 Annual Report, art has been central to her life for as long as she can remember.
Growing up in Sioux Falls, “I was always just drawn to visual things and making visual things,” she said.
After graduating from Washington High School, Anderson went on to Hamline University where she quickly gravitated to oil painting and the studio art department.
“I wanted to learn everything but didn’t quite know where to specialize,” she said. “Then I realized that, for me, making artwork and studying art is ultimately the study of everything. You can study economics and history and science and math and all of that through the lens of art history and creating artwork.”
So instead of choosing to major in philosophy or science or some other course of study, Anderson chose to study art as a way to “study the culture creators throughout time — to learn about everything and translate that through a visual language.”
After Hamline, she went on to earn her MFA in painting from Indiana University’s Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design.
Working with oil, photo transfer and graphite, Anderson was inspired by an enchiridion, a small manual or handbook that provides instruction about a subject or place.
"This painting serves as an enchiridion of my hometown, a guide through the past, present, and future of this community," Anderson wrote. "I used three maps to structure the composition: A railroad map of South Dakota from 1939, an undated map of Downtown Sioux Falls clearly showing the old depot on 8th Street, and a map of the stars as visible from this longitude and latitude in the summer of 2022. Layered together they are a way to look at a place, or an organization, or an entity, through intersecting goals and entwined missions. Moving parts must align to be effective. To create an effective road map into the future, one must consider the intersecting histories that have come before. The building that houses the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation has a rich history. The land it sits on has a deeper history yet. Through layers, intersections, and revolutions we can find connections that tell a visual story and lead us on a path forward."
"Telephone" | 2021 Annual Report
A native of Brandon, and a graduate of the University of South Dakota, Zach DeBoer led the collaboration behind "Telephone," featured on our 2021 Annual Report cover.
The project began with “Beacon,” a sculpture by Clark Martinek featured in SculptureWalk and sponsored by the Foundation.
“Beacon” was then photographed by local nature photographer Paul Schiller. From there, DeBoer took over, dividing and printing Schiller’s image into 35 separate square images. Next, he led a painting class for the staff at Children’s Inn, offering tips and techniques on how to recreate their small portion of the image onto their 4” x 4” canvas board using acrylic paints. From there, staff worked with guests of the Children’s Inn over the following week to paint the remaining images. Lastly, DeBoer assembled the pieces, recreating Schiller’s original image — with a unique look.
DeBoer says he sees art as a tool for community change.
“Using art to activate people and places is a powerful way to drive positive change,” DeBoer said. “One of the biggest factors to a city’s success is if the people who live there love it. When they do, they care about it and invest in making it better. Public art, and especially collaborative public art, is a great way to bolster community pride and civic engagement in cities of any size.”
To that end, DeBoer has led mural projects in Sioux Falls, Clear Lake, Centerville and Canton. Each piece, he said, seeks to tell the story of the city it represents.
“Murals can be a great way to bring a community together. My goal is to help people identify the things in their town that are unique and important to who they are; things they should be celebrating.” he said. “I feel like there are a lot of towns that are in danger of losing sight of those things. My hope is that my work can help unify communities by shining a light on what makes the place they live special.”
“Agent of Change” | 2020 Annual Report
A native of Sioux Falls, Nelson grew up in an artistic household and found his own love for art during his sophomore year at O’Gorman High School.
Nelson’s use of media broadened at Augustana University where he was influenced by iconic art professors Bob Aldern and Carl Grupp.
“Bob Aldern kind of took me under his wing,” Nelson said. “He helped me a lot in terms of learning how to apply my success in art to my academics. He drove the point home that, ‘You may not be interested in other subjects, but the more you know about everything, the better artist you’ll be. Your knowledge of the world will make you a better artist.’”
“Carl Grupp taught me how printmaking was the ultimate form of drawing,” Nelson said. “From there, I became really drawn to printmaking and pottery.”
After double majoring in studio art and art education, today Nelson calls himself a full time teacher and a full time artist. In addition to teaching at Brandon Valley, Nelson also teaches printmaking and art education classes at Augustana, where he’s served as the printmaker in residence for the last 14 years.
“I love teaching; I love being around students and watching them discover things about themselves they didn’t know before,” he said.
“I know my purpose as an art teacher is not to teach everyone to be an artist. I see my function as an art teacher to teach my students creative problem solving skills,” Nelson said. “To look at things in new ways and to synthesize different variables together. These are such important skills in the world we live in today. Not only having the facts, but to be able to think around problems. If we can come up with different ways of thinking about things, we’ll all get farther.”
Nelson’s teaching philosophy also helps inspire his own artwork, including “Agent of Change,” a reduction relief woodcut titled featured in our 2020 Annual Report.
Nelson shared with us his inspiration behind the piece: “When we decide to act, we change the world is small ways, each of these actions are like ripples in a pond expanding and effecting the world beyond our perception. When put in the context of society we can use this concept, strategically to become true agents of change,” Nelson said. “Dropping that pebble into the pond of society disrupts the status quo as the ripple flows through each of us, effecting us, changing us. The more pebbles we drop in the pond with positive intention the more energy is released creating more and more potential for opportunity and change.”
“Catalysts” | 2019 Annual Report
A native of Lima, Peru, Hector Curriel’s interest in art developed at a young age. While in high school, he made the decision to pursue a career as an architect because he saw the field’s close connection to visual art.
In search of a better life, Curriel made the decision to move to the U.S. in 2001. He settled in Worthington, Minnesota, and took a job working in construction. After work each day, he studied English through the Worthington School District’s collaborative adult education program. From there, he enrolled at Minnesota West Community and Technical College where he took additional courses in English, grammar and composition.
Reading a magazine during his lunch break at a construction site, Curriel saw an advertisement that changed his life.
“It was an ad from Art Instruction Schools, an art school in Minneapolis. It showed a picture and asked readers to draw the image to measure their skill as an artist,” he said. “So I grabbed a pencil and just drew it. I tore the page out and mailed it in.”
The drawing earned him a scholarship to the school and soon after, Curriel’s career as an artist blossomed. Today, he is well known for his watercolors, editorial cartoons and illustrations. “Saving Up Smiles for a Rainy Day,” a book he illustrated, won the Midwest Book Award in 2013. A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and The National Cartoonists Society, Curriel is also an accomplished school presenter and holds frequent art workshops.
In creating “Catalysts,” featured in our 2019 Annual Report, Curriel said “The Community Foundation is working to empower the community, so I wanted to create something to illustrate that. And I wanted to make it local — something people would recognize.”
The foundation for “Catalysts,” is the black, white, red and yellow colored squares — included, Curriel said, because of their significance within the Lakota culture.
From there, Curriel said each element in the piece represents a different kind of catalyst, each working together to create the vibrancy and momentum alive in the Sioux Falls area today.
The values of the Lakota people served as a catalyst for the sense of community that’s present in the Sioux Falls area today, he explained. Education is a catalyst for discovery and innovation. Collaboration is a catalyst for economic, social and cultural development. The arts are a catalyst for finding inspiration, connection and common ground. Diversity is a catalyst for building understanding, perspective and inclusiveness. And relationships are a catalyst for joy, happiness, peace and love.
Susan Schmeichel Harder
“Special Blend” | 2018 Annual Report
Susan Schmeichel Harder works as a registered art therapist and addiction counselor at Avera Behavioral Health Outpatient Services.
Growing up in the farmland of rural Hurley, South Dakota, Harder said her art is almost always based on the connection between people and the environments around them.
In creating “Special Blend,” featured in our 2018 Annual Report, Harder had the community of Sioux Falls in mind.
“This city has an expanding collection of people, perspectives, and belief systems that makes for a distinct and vibrant palette,” she said. “I am grateful to be creating art in a city that seeks and inspires growth and progress. Growth brings change to one’s environment and challenges us with new ways of living and working together as a dynamic system.”
Harder holds a B.A. in art and Spanish from Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas, and a M.S. in art therapy from Mount Mary University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“First Friday” | 2017 Annual Report
A retired teacher and self-taught painter, Roger Ellingson enjoys working plein air, or on location, usually in acrylic or watercolor. Through his art he shares the places, cities and countrysides he has lived and explored — from Wyoming to Sioux Falls to the lakes of northern Minnesota.
Ellingson said downtown is his favorite area to paint. He takes a familiar setting and manipulates color, perspective, activity and mood to capture time and place. The results welcome viewers right into the painting.
In “First Friday,” featured in our 2017 Annual Report, he colorfully portrays the excitement of Sioux Falls’ city center as people enjoy the offerings of Phillips Avenue on a summer evening.
Ellingson has worked with woodcut printing, watercolors, acrylics and pastels. He considers watercolor and acrylics his primary mediums. His work can be seen at the East Bank Gallery in Sioux Falls and Prairie Breeze in Mitchell, South Dakota, as well as area art festivals.
“View from Good Earth State Park” | 2016 Annual Report
A graduate of South Dakota State University, Jim Sturdevant earned a master’s degree in geography from Oklahoma State University and a doctorate in leadership from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Throughout his career, he has worked in private, public and nonprofit leadership. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Sioux Falls.
Sturdevant has been illustrating Sioux Falls-area landmarks through his art since the 1980s. Drawing on memories of his childhood in Dell Rapids, Sturdevant captures the light illuminating our towns, neighborhoods and landscape in his work.
“View from Good Earth State Park,” featured in our 2016 Annual Report, shares a vista of this scenic cultural and historic state park, the development of which the Community Foundation supported by facilitating contributions from donor advisors.
The meandering river and the fertile farmland extending to the horizon illustrate the prairie’s expansiveness and verdant beauty.
“Kotascape” | 2015 Annual Report
A Lincoln High School graduate, Kringen is a hometown success story who started painting by accident — literally.
During his sophomore year of college he was permanently injured while jumping on a trampoline. When he returned to complete his sociology degree at Southwest Minnesota State University, he rolled by the art studio and was intrigued enough to sign up for classes in both art and art history.
Kringen began his professional career as an artist in 2001. His paintings are found in many private, public, and corporate collections including Raven Industries and Capital One.
Kringen's signature use of bold colors, strong sense of line, and characteristic black-white contrast elements makes his work easily identifiable.
“Kotascape,” featured in our 2015 Annual Report, is an abstract representation of the eastern South Dakota landscape and is the sixth of Kringen’s “Into the Woods” series. Its dominant colors represent the four seasons.
Kringen's use of acrylic on canvas and mixed media allows him to create his own original style — a blend of abstract, impressionism, and expressionism.
“I try to find the distinctive qualities of the subject matter,” Kringen said, “and bring those unique aspects to the attention of the viewer.”
“Early Spring at Good Earth” | 2014 Annual Report
Ceca Cooper holds a BFA in Art and a BS in Art Education from the University of Houston and an MFA in painting from the University of South Dakota. Today, she serves as an Associate Professor for Art at the University of Sioux Falls.
Born and raised in the Arkansas backwoods, Cooper says she hadn’t seen an unobstructed horizon until she went to college in Texas, where the vast shorelines of the Gulf of Mexico instilled in her a life-long fascination with wide open spaces. In 1994, when she first experienced the north central plains, she used her art to explore the feeling of being very small in a limitless expanse.
Eventually, Cooper began to shift her artistic focus from great landscapes to things that immediately surrounded her in nature. Plants, birds, stones, and evidence of the changing seasons emerged in her paintings. At the same time, she started weaving her love of poetry into her work.
“Early Spring at Good Earth,” featured in our 2014 Annual Report, was inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem “Little Birds.” Cooper said the phrase “little birds are tasting gold and gratitude” called to mind the many ways the Community Foundation works to enrich the community, especially its young.
In “Early Spring at Good Earth,” Cooper captures a flock of yellow warblers in mixed media — oil, acrylic, collage, and strokes of black tar to represent the effect of human encroachment on unspoiled natural habitat.
“The Depot at Cherapa Place” and "1888 Barn" | 2013 and 2000 Annual Reports
A South Dakota State University graduate, Marian Henjum grew up near Garretson and lived in Sioux Falls for more than 40 years, during which time she became one of the state’s most recognizable artists.
In 1989, she was chosen to design the South Dakota Centennial Stamp, which was distributed worldwide, and her work is part of the permanent collection at the South Dakota Capitol Building. She is a past recipient of the Mayor’s Award of Excellence in Visual Arts and her illustrations have won more than 30 Addy Awards from the South Dakota Advertising Federation.
Henjum was also no stranger to the Community Foundation.
In 2000, shortly after the Foundation had conveyed Dale and Dorothy Weir’s gift of Arrowhead Park to the city, our Annual Report featured Henjum’s study of the “1888 Barn” that once served the old quarry operation.
For our 2013 Annual Report, her work depicted the Depot at Cherapa Place, which dates from 1887 and is fashioned from purple jasper excavated from the same site.
“I first painted this depot in the early 1970s when it was abandoned,” Henjum told us. “The railroad tracks and trains were still being used, but there were weeds growing everywhere. I wondered what would become of this beautiful building; it was a such a delight to me. I love old buildings, their histories, and what they meant to the growth of Sioux Falls. I feel privileged to paint this wonderful landmark again!”
The project was a natural for Henjum. A member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America, she had a passion for old buildings and loves the challenge of capturing their unique features in that medium.
Henjum passed away in 2014 at age 69.
“Living Legacy” | 2012 Annual Report
Don Hooper was born in Los Angeles, California, and graduated from the University of Montana. After college, he began what would become a long and successful career in banking. Working for Wells Fargo, Hooper soon moved up the corporate ladder into trust services. In 1976, he moved to Sioux Falls and went on to earn his MBA from the University of South Dakota.
After he retired from banking, Hooper decided to get serious about the artwork he once thought of as only a hobby. When his paintings began to sell, he formed Kaleidoscope, LLC, and moved into a studio located downtown above Monk's on east Eighth Street. He most often worked with oil on canvas and enjoyed painting en plein air. At other times, he'd photograph an inspiring image and develop a study in his studio.
"My goal is to capture nature's work and share it with others," he told us.
As he contemplated the creation of "Living Legacy," featured in our 2012 Annual Report, Hooper found synergy between the four decades of his banking career and the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.
"I spent the majority of my career working with trusts and estates," he says. "Customers often asked me what I thought they should do with their wealth." Hooper's job entailed helping those customers formulate an estate plan — a "living legacy" that would provide for family members, protect assets, and, in many cases, arrange gifts that would one day benefit a favorite charity, church, or educational institution.
With gardens in mind, Hooper looked for a subject for his impressionist, oil-on-canvas artwork.
"I visualized something that is planted and grows for many years longer than the person who planted a seed or root into the ground," he told us. He found the focal point for his painting in a flowering shrub that blooms all summer long, rests through the winter months, and bursts forth in a blaze of pink glory each spring.
To Hooper's mind's eye, there was a parallel between the shrub and the Community Foundation's assets — both are living legacies that began as seedlings.
"In the Foundation's case, the seedlings are the gifts and pledges donors have made. They've grown to an important, formidable size — all to the benefit of improving our community and quality of life," Hooper said.
Hooper passed away in 2017 at the age of 80.
“Communities Keeping Time: Past, Present & Future” | 2011 Annual Report
Nancyjane Huehl grew up surrounded by nature, culture and history in Vivian, South Dakota, a short distance from Fort Pierre. There, Huehl often spent days exploring and examining treasures of the past, learning about those who came before. Huehl once said if she hadn’t become an artist, she would have pursued a career in archeology and the study of cultures.
“I am constantly curious about the world around me, and I love to look at structures at different times of day in different lights and see what happens to them,” she said.
A self-taught artist with no formal training, Huehl said she feels lucky to have had mentors who helped her find her niche in oil paints, encouraged her to work on her art each day and to remember what she loves about painting: “When you paint to please yourself, you create things that you love,” she said.
A signature member of the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society, Huehl has exhibited at the South Dakota Arts Museum and the Center for Western Studies. Her work has been commissioned by the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, Sanford Heart Hospital, Rapid City Surgery Center and a number of other businesses and organizations.
When Huehl painted “Communities Keeping Time: Past, Present & Future,” featured in our 2011 Annual Report, she worked for nearly three months on the piece. Only about 24 hours of those 90 days were spent doing the actual painting. The rest of the time was used to study the Old Courthouse in downtown Sioux Falls, gaining a feel for the history of the 1889 building and a sense of how changes in light altered its appearance.
“To me, (the Old Courthouse) is the heart of Sioux Falls. It’s where it all began,” Huehl said.
Once the repository of every person who was born or died here, Huehl said she saw the clock tower as a symbol of the passage and recording of time.
“I think of what was in the hearts and minds of those who built it, and their image of what the city could become. The Community Foundation works to achieve a similar vision,” she said.
“Loaves and Fish” | 2010 Annual Report
Nathan Holman grew up in Wessington Springs, where he learned to carve from his grandfather, a design engineer whose hobby was making wooden ships. He attended Famous Arts School in Westport, Connecticut, where he earned a Certificate of Fine Arts, and went on to Northern State University in Aberdeen to study printmaking, painting, art history, sculpture and music. After moving to Sioux Falls in 1980, he spent two years at Augustana studying woodcuts and ceramics.
Holman has won several awards over the course of his career and his work can be seen in many locations around town, including sculptures and carvings at Sanford Children’s Hospital and Cherapa Place. He has a special interest in doing art for kids, and for three years he taught a children’s art lab at All City Elementary, a project he refers to as “moderately controlled chaos.”
Reflecting on the theme of “Loaves and Fish,” featured in our 2010 Annual Report, Holman said he didn’t have to look hard for inspiration.
“It’s inherent in what you guys do at the Community Foundation,” he said. “The theme of loaves and fishes is Biblical, but it also crosses cultures and allows all people a better life,” he explained, referring to the gospel story of feeding the multitudes with only seven loaves and fishes.
The piece is a woodcut relief print. Holman started by carving an image into a block of wood, cutting away sections that will not appear in the finished print. He then inked the block, laid paper over it, and rubbed the back of the paper with a bamboo spoon. The final result is an image of the parts of the wood block that were not removed in carving.
As he began his work, the chair Holman included in the design seemed just part of the background. As he worked, he realized that the unoccupied chair sends an additional message about philanthropy. “It’s latent symbolism. When you’re gone, you need to have left something on the table,” he said.
“Collective Momentum” | 2009 Annual Report
Liz Heeren holds a BA from Saint Olaf College, an MA in Art Theory and Art Education from the University of Arizona and an MFA in Painting from the University of South Dakota. Today, she teaches painting and design for the University of South Dakota and serves as the director of Ipso Gallery at Fresh Produce in downtown Sioux Falls.
Through the Ipso Gallery, Heeren connects with other creative thinkers and works to foster a network of artists and buyers.
“There’s a community as you go through school, but then people scatter to where they know they can sell their work and anchor shows, and the community starts to dwindle,” she told us. “I’m connecting with art when I’m connecting with the artist — when I’m invested in who those artists are. That’s profoundly different than art for decoration’s sake.”
Heeren created “Collective Momentum,” featured in our 2009 Annual Report, using acrylic, oil pastel, and oil paint on paper. Heeren’s sensibilities about the changing urban landscape came together with her curiosity about how human technology interacts with the natural environment. The result, she said, has “a spontaneity that resonates with the pace and momentum in Sioux Falls right now. There’s a quickness to it and a smattering of many different colors and qualities that gel into a cohesive whole.”
At least that’s what Heeren said she experiences as she looks out from her studio window, where she’s encouraged to see signs of renewed public interest in aesthetics downtown revitalization, “green” architecture, and SculptureWalk.
“The potential for growth in an artist’s perspective happens really naturally when this type of optimism is there,” she said, referring to the city’s cultural evolution. “To me, it’s a playing field with no boundaries.”
“Sunday Picnic” | 2008 Annual Report
Born in Sioux Falls in 1935, Gary Hartenhoff developed an early interest in visual arts and took every course offered in high school. His painted designs on cars and store windows led him to launch his own business, Hart Signs. He furthered his art education with painting and drawing workshops at Augustana College and the University of Minnesota.
His 35 years of sign painting and graphics experience proved a solid foundation for the next phase of his career when, in 1989, he moved to southern California to study oil painting. There, he learned from professional fine artists scattered along the Pacific coastline.
Hartenhoff returned to Sioux Falls in 2007 and shared his love for still-life subjects and Midwest landscapes in “Sunday Picnic,” featured in our 2008 Annual Report.
Hartenhoff told us he began preparing for the project by researching historical photos of Seney Island, a summer spot for lazy weekend afternoons, community celebrations, and neighborhood get-togethers for Sioux Falls families at the turn of the century.
Located just upstream from the main falls of the Big Sioux River, the island hosted July Fourth events and quieter gatherings, too. Many fun-seekers reached the island by canoe, and then met up with friends, family, and coworkers for the day.
Today, the island is long gone, the channel around the island closed in 1907 to increase water flow to the hydroelectric plant within the building that now houses the Overlook Café.
In reflecting on “Sunday Picnic,” a three-foot-square oil painting on canvas, Hartenhoff told us he hopes people will recognize more similarities than differences when they compare themselves to the people in his painting.
“At the heart of things,” Hartenhoff believed, “it’s still about coming together as a community to share in all the good things our area and its people have to offer.”
Hartenhoff passed away in 2018 at the age of 82.
“Nature's Gift” | 2007 Annual Report
A native of Aberdeen and a master’s graduate of the University of Oregon, Sheila Agee came home to look for work in 1979. She dropped in to see the chair of South Dakota State University’s art department and wound up as assistant to the director of the South Dakota Memorial Art Center — now the South Dakota Art Museum — in Brookings.
Nine years later Agee’s path led to Sioux Falls, where she became director of the Civic Fine Arts Center. That job brought her to the forefront of community brainstorming about a future use for the old Washington High School. It was Agee and Mary Allman, former director of the Sioux Land Museums, who developed the idea of putting the science, performing, and visual arts under one roof and calling it the Washington Pavilion.
In 2001, Agee picked up her paintbrush for good and today, she creates art and oversees the Hilltop Studio Painters, a group of women who share a lifelong interest in art and gather together to create with paint under Agee’s direction. Still sought after as a juror and arts consultant, Agee’s paintings have appeared in more than 30 exhibits and some have become part of two permanent collections owned by Avera Health.
As an artist, Agee bears in mind the importance of light and a sense of place before choosing the best path for each painting. Her work reflects the peace she finds in the outdoors.
Like most of her work, “Nature’s Gift,” featured in our 2007 Annual Report, is a composite of scenes she gathers from a variety of resources, including the panoramic view of the prairie visible from her studio, located between Sioux Falls and Brandon.
“Arrowhead Park Tea Party” | 2006 Annual Report
A native of Sioux Falls, Carl Grupp’s instinct was always to draw. As a youngster, he sketched comic book characters – a skill that eventually led to a spot on the Washington High School newspaper.
As a senior in high school, Grupp received more encouragement — this time from his civics teacher, who urged him to consider continuing his education. Grupp took the advice and enrolled at Augustana College (now Augustana University), where he studied for one year before heading to the School of Associated Arts in St. Paul. He later transferred to Minneapolis College of Art and Design. There, he discovered his love for painting and printmaking. Grupp worked his way through school, picking up odd jobs that often meant going straight from the night shift at the local gas station to class. That perseverance paid off. Grupp graduated and came away with the school’s top honor, the VanDerlip Fellowship. The prize came with a cash award that he used to travel and study in Europe. Later, Grupp earned his master’s in printmaking from the University of Indiana.
In 1969, Grupp accepted a teaching position at Augustana. He would go on to spend nearly four decades at Augie, teaching, serving as chair of the art department and helping to found the Eide/Dalrymple Art Gallery. He retired in 2004.
His work has been shown in more than 100 exhibits, and his pieces are included in collections nationwide. Closer to home, he won the 2002 Mayor’s Award of the Sioux Empire Arts Council and received a 2005 Governor’s Award for distinction in creative achievement.
In “Arrowhead Tea Party,” featured in our 2006 Annual Report, Grupp joined his love for Arrowhead Park — the nature area east of Sioux Falls on Highway 42 gifted to the city by Dale and Dorothy Weir through the Community Foundation — and his attraction to a silver tea service he spotted while visiting friends.
He originally conceptualized a still life and arranged the tea service on a marble table top that reflected the vibrant color of the oranges he added. Since the idea was still taking shape in his mind, Grupp photographed the scene he’d created, tucked away the prints, and focused on other projects.
One of those other projects was visiting Arrowhead Park to photograph the frogs that inhabit the area. Grupp’s treks to the park inspired him to blend the borrowed tea set with an outdoor landscape. He replaced the marble table top with sparkling blue water and added the frogs and waterfowl he enjoyed watching swim lazily in the park’s quarry ponds. The rainbow was Grupp’s finishing touch.
No stranger to whimsy, the master printmaker’s watercolor stands today as a still-life fantasy.
“Some folks recommended leaving out the goose head, but that makes it more surreal, kind of like a dream,” Grupp said after finishing the piece. “I like it that way.”
Grupp passed away in 2019 at the age of 79.
“Pathways to Good” | 2005 Annual Report
After high school, Mary Selvig left her family’s rural Minnesota farm for Sioux Falls where she went to work for Shriver’s department store. From creating window displays, her responsibilities increased to include sketching fashion ads for the company’s print materials, a post Selvig held until her first son was born in 1964.
As her children grew, Selvig had more time to devote to art. She began using watercolors and sold her work at area fairs. She also began taking drawing and printmaking classes at Augustana and became active in local arts organizations. In her mid-40s she made a formal commitment to finish her education. It was then that she discovered another dimension to her artistic ability — ceramics.
Regarded as one of the state’s preeminent potters, Selvig’s work is part of the permanent collections at the South Dakota Art Museum, University of South Dakota, Augustana University and the Washington Pavilion.
For “Pathways to Good,” featured on the cover of our 2005 Annual Report, Selvig chose to focus on the wildflowers and vegetation that might appear along a traveler’s path rather than the path itself.
“The pathway is implied,” says Selvig. “What I’m attracted to is how things along the wayside have a natural way of intertwining and growing together.”
The deep red background represents vitality and stands in bold contrast to the softer purples, greens, pinks, and yellows of the fading fall foliage. The leaves and flowers weave their own path, reaching heavenward toward the unseen, setting sun that gave them life over the summer months.
“Abundance” | 2004 Annual Report
A native of South Dakota, Paul Schiller grew up in Yankton where he graduated high school in 1964. He went on to the University of South Dakota, where his interest in photography and journalism blossomed. He worked for the school’s newspaper as a photojournalist and feature writer and eventually became its editor.
In 1969, Schiller graduated with a degree in journalism and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. With only a year until his tour began, he headed for his hometown newspaper, Yankton’s Press and Dakotan, where he covered local events before he shipped out to fulfill his duties as an Information Officer in Frankfurt, Germany.
Back in the states, Schiller’s love for photography and journalism evolved into a career in marketing when he took a job as an account executive at a local agency. Four years later, he teamed up with Craig Lawrence to found what has become the state’s largest advertising and marketing firm, Lawrence & Schiller.
Later, Paul and his wife, Koni, went on to found Acts of Nature by Paul Schiller, an innovative imaging company specializing in interior landscaping.
Known for his bold, vibrant images of nature, Schiller is especially fond of macro photography. Captured close up through the lens of Schiller's Nikon, what seems ordinary becomes extraordinary.
“I have a newfound appreciation for the little details found just beyond my back door,” Schiller says.
In this case, his in-laws' back door led to Schiller's inspiration for "Abundance," featured in our 2004 Annual Report. When he chanced upon the fruit-laden grapevine during a stroll through his in-laws’ yard, he knew he had the perfect image to commemorate the Foundation’s 20th anniversary.
“They’re vintage and bearing a wonderful fruit,” he says enthusiastically, referring to the lustrous cluster of purple grapes. "Just like our Community Foundation."
“Mary's Home Cooking” | 2003 Annual Report
Raised in Aberdeen, South Dakota, Mary Groth got her first break in Sioux Falls when the Northlander restaurant was being built on south Minnesota Avenue. The restaurant’s owners wanted a dining area decorated to reflect South Dakota culture and after a nationwide search, they discovered Groth living in-state. Her drawings were just what owners of the popular ‘80s restaurant were looking for.
Groth’s work has been featured in Country Living, U.S. Art, and Entrepreneur magazines. She was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame as Artist of the Year in 1995, and South Dakota Magazine selected her painting "Dakota Night" for the cover of its millennium edition. Groth is also a past recipient of the People's Choice Award at the Washington Pavilion's annual Arts Night Exhibition.
In “Mary’s Home Cooking,“ featured in our 2003 Annual Report, Groth’s choice of palette is inspired by the warm golden tones that bathe South Dakota on a late summer afternoon. The setting sun's light washes across the figures in the foreground, casting shadows on the storefront behind them, turning windows a deep gray blue. The daytime breeze has calmed to a mere whisper that ruffles a hemline and gently lifts the woman's hair from her face.
Like most of Groth’s work, this piece contains an element of mystery — the man in a suit. His demeanor is hidden as he looks down and fiddles with something in his hands. “He’s someone to speculate about draw your own conclusions,” the artist teased.
Groth is more candid in describing the mood of the oil pastel. "It's optimistic," she said. “While the day may have passed slowly for the little girl leaning into her mother for comfort, her parents — proudly posed in front of their main street cafe — are smiling. Even at the end of a workday, they seem relaxed, confident in the future and the success of their enterprise.”
“An Endless Harvest” | 2002 Annual Report
Chad Hoyt Mohr grew up in Sioux Falls and graduated from Brandon High School in 1974. He received his degree in commercial art from Northern State University. When he moved back to Sioux Falls in 1979, he quickly became known as an artist and framer, owning and operating his own business, Mohr Art & FrameWerks.
Although his museum-quality framing and shadow box collages are superb, Mohr's artwork also turns heads. His medium of choice is pen and ink, which Mohr says complements his devotion to detail. His commercial work has placed first in the South Dakota Addy's competition, and he's received a host of awards from juried art shows. Mohr’s work has been featured in a number of solo art exhibits at places such as Gallery 306 and the Eide/Dalrymple Gallery at Augustana University.
During his lifetime, Mohr has produced thousands of drawings and illustrations. While subject and design inevitably change, two elements remain constant his cross-hatching technique and circles.
Circles appear prominently in virtually all of his creative work and many of his commercial pieces. In "An Endless Harvest," featured in our 2002 Annual Report, Mohr’s trademark represents the sun, something he believes sustains everything on Earth.
“The sun has an immense impact on everything in nature. I feel it even affects us psychologically,” Mohr said.
In Mohr’s “An Endless Harvest," he said the sun represents the Community Foundation’s donors who take the time to volunteer, share their treasure, and use their creativity to make the Sioux Falls area an even better place to live. The light they shine nurtures seeds planted for an endless harvest that will be reaped for generations to come.
To create the piece, Mohr sketched his vision in pencil and inked in the basic design. He then applied watercolor, a step he usually skips in favor of black and white images. Mohr added the finishing touches with pen and ink, using his special cross-hatch technique to give the artwork its depth and stained-glass appearance.
“A Legacy is Like a River” | 2001 Annual Report
Martha Baker was born and raised on Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. She attended the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and graduated with a degree in elementary education. She taught briefly before marrying her husband, Bill, and raising a family.
She later pursued a degree in art from Augustana University, where she developed a strong interest in printmaking.
In addition to printmaking, her other passion is knitting. She often transposes images and designs from sketches and prints to her knitted pieces.
The Big Sioux River at the south edge of Yankton Trail Park off 57th Street inspired Baker's design for "A Legacy is Like a River," a multiple-color print featured in our 2001 Annual Report.
Baker began by drawing the scene freehand and tracing the sketch onto a rubber mat. After deciding to use ten colors of pigment, she carved away part of the image, applied the lightest color to the mat, and made the first impression on paper. She repeated the carving and pressing process until all the colors had been applied and the final image emerged.
The border, which was applied with a transparency during the production of the annual report reads, "A legacy is like a river, flowing, bringing new life." Water is the source of all life and legacy endowments are the source for enriching our quality of life in the Sioux Falls area, for good, for ever.
Interested in Working With Us?
Local artists interested in working with the Community Foundation on future art projects should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each Annual Report includes a feature on the artist behind the artwork featured on its cover. The biographies above are excerpts from past Annual Reports.