Vibrant Arts Scene Gives Sioux Falls Its Vibe

By Pamela Coyle on May 4, 2011 at 8:48 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Young

Sioux Falls has taken “The Heart of America” as its motto, but “The Art of America” works, too.

The city is awash in art galleries, live theater, museums and music of all kinds. The city, the University of South Dakota and non-profits such as the Sioux Arts Empire Council and the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Society help create an atmosphere of both appreciation and innovation.

The array of options belies any preconception that this part of the country can’t compete for cool. The arts thrive in Sioux Falls.

EastBank Art Gallery & Studio is a cooperative fine art gallery and teaching studio with original paintings, drawing, pottery, photography and jewelry. The Horse Barn Art Center is really housed in an old horse barn, now city-owned and run by the Sioux Empire Arts Council. Two galleries, including one in the converted hayloft upstairs, show new local work every month.

The Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion has six galleries with rotating exhibits and a permanent collection that showcases regional artists. Mears Library on the USD campus has work of students and professionals year-round, and Northern Plains Gallery has original art by American Indians from the region.

Admission to the Great Plains Zoo includes access the Delbridge Museum of Natural History, with more than 145 specimens of mounted wildlife. The Center for Western Studies looks at the Northern Plains’ history and cultures. The USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial is free and open seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The Museum of Visual Materials, in one of downtown’s oldest buildings, engages all five senses with its fun and funky collection. It houses thousands of books, vinyl records and 8-track tapes, more than 80,000 sewing buttons, arts and crafts, a killer kitchen and fabric for days.

Sioux Falls also invites residents to listen to the music. An annual two-day jazz and blues festival is free. The city is home to the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the Sioux Falls Municipal Band and unique concert venues such as Orpheum Theater and the Husby Performing Arts Center at Washington Pavilion. South Dakota Friends of Traditional Music sponsors all sorts of shows, including a three-day folk festival in August.

The city also has at least four separate theater groups, including The Children’s Theatre Company of Sioux Falls and Olde Towne Dinner Theatre.

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