Tag Archives: South Dakota

The Badlands, South Dakota

Last week while I was driving West from a wind farm near Sioux Falls, South Dakota to the Washington coast for our next job, I passed by the Badlands for the first time in years.

The Badlands, located in Western South Dakota along I-90, are one of the most colorful and beautiful natural spaces in the American States. It took me two attempts to see this wonderful place the last time and it was painful to not have the time to stop for another visit this time around. You can briefly glimpse some of the eroded buttes from the interstate, but will not see enough to satisfy a craving.

Feeling a bit nostalgic about my earlier trip to the Badlands, and suddenly realizing that many of my photos from that visit are probably gone thanks to a cruel hard drive failure over two years ago, I decided to go through every photo file I had backed up and eventually through my Google Picasa account. Thankfully Picasa had a copy of every photo that I had posted on a former  blog of mine. Though I didn’t post everything, but I did post a few images and looking through those precious few I could feel myself back in the national park. It was a bright sunny day, the park had plenty of visitors but not too many, and I was in awe of everything that I saw.

While taking in the view from above there was a golden eagle, my first, soaring above the landscape. There were these giant silvery poofs that looked like prehistoric dandelions  all over the park. And of course there was the magnificent display of color in the rock formations from the various type of rock material packed together in tight layers. Each layer representing a different time in the long geological history of the region.

If you should ever go to this wonderland then you must go when the weather is lovely and the sky is blue to really appreciate the color. This is not a visit for bleak grey days. Its also a perfect place to bring a portable watercolor set.

 

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Porter Sculpture Park

This month I am working in the Eastern Dakota region of the states and while taking a long winding detour from Sioux Falls to Fargo I discovered a fabulous little sculpture park off of I-90!

I was driving West toward Hwy 81 with the hopes of exploring some rural decay that I had made note of earlier in the week when out of the blue a ginormous, dare I say Sexy,  bull head broke appeared in the horizon. There was absolutely no doubt to argue with, I was gonna get off at the next exit and get up close and personal with this Bull head!   Seriously, what kind of art loving curious drifter would I be if I just passed by? Not a very adventurous one, for sure.

My heart dropped when I got off the exit and saw a sign that the park was closed for the season. I had to see it. So I continued on and thought that maybe there is a house or a contact number or something that I could contact and get in.. There was nothing! No signs, except CLOSED, and no information that I could find. But luck would have it the gate was not completely closed. I immediately parked Teddi, my car, and walked the  half mile dirt stoney road that lead to the park itself.

The day was gorgeous with its blue skies pressed against golden grasses, it was absolutely perfect for an outdoor sculpture adventure.

The park itself was small but loaded with a variety of sculptures. Many pieces, like the vulture with a mallet or Pandora’s jack-in-a-box, had a comical horror quality about them while others, like the goldfish and dancing muses, were more whimsical and surreal. It was obvious that the artist, and at this point I correctly assumed it was a single artist – Wayne Porter – that created this artistic prairie oasis, had a sense of humor and made pieces that reflected his own need for art and ideas of beauty.

I spent about an hour walking among the colorful pieces, photographing them against the almost barren landscape and partially wishing that I was home and creating work of my own. Some pieces I responded to more so than others and a few will become a source of inspiration for my own work later when I return to my studio space.  My favorite sculpture was of course the Bull head that I spotted from the interstate. The size, the detail, and quality of work was amazing. I’m a Taurus and can not deny that I have a bit of a fascination for Bull images in art and culture. They are bold figures that evoke strength, stubbornness and focus determination along with an indulgence for personal comforts.

Another favorite was the Golden woman – unsure what the actual title is – sweeping golden square pieces into a bucket. My take from the piece is about falling apart but having the endurance to still pick up the pieces. Lately this year I have felt somewhat lost and a bit despondent; and this piece reminded me of my own path towards regaining myself, picking up the pieces.

Anyway, the park is a quirky little artist space that is definitely worth the stop during the summer season, especially if you are on an epic American road trip and love to support local artists. The open landscape surrounding the park adds this otherworldliness to the experience, at least it did for this Jersey Girl.

When I made it back to Fargo I immediately looked the park up and found this website:  Porter Sculpture Park you can read about artist Wayne Porter. I highly suggest checking it out and making plans for next Summer!