News Column

Students show off artistic talent at Granary

April 26, 2014

By Jeff Bahr, American News, Aberdeen, S.D.



April 26--GROTON -- For an artist, being at the Granary Rural Cultural Center on Friday combined the best of the outdoors and indoors.

After enjoying the beauty outside, Aberdeen Central student Faith Naasz said she liked coming inside to see the works that other high school students had made.

"It's just a very fun thing to see all the talent we have here," said Naasz, who was one of 77 students attending the second day of the 2014 All-Dakota High School Fine Arts Exhibition.

Mitchell High School student Trystin Smith was also impressed with the setting.

"It's crazy," said Smith, explaining she never thought there would be "an art gallery way out here."

There are some minor drawbacks to being outdoors, of course.Moments after she made that comment, Smith was unsettled by the discovery of a spider crawling on her foot. Coming to her rescue was fellow student Brittany Reimnitz.

That was only a momentary problem, though. And the day turned out to be great for Reimnitz. Not only did she sell a painting, for twice the price she asked, but the painting received a Judge's Choice award.

This year's exhibition marked the first time since 2009 that the event was held at the Granary, west of Groton. For the previous four years, it was hosted by the Aberdeen Recreation and Cultural Center, as the Granary was victim of wet roads surrounding the facility and, for the past two years, bad weather.

The event, in its 19th year, is organized by the Dacotah Prairie Museum.

"The ARCC bailed us out of a tight spot," said the museum's Lora Schaunaman. Mitchell teachers Alyson Palmer and Marica Shannon pointed out that both locations have their strengths.

Pretty as a picture

The scene at the Granary was almost a work of art in itself.

"It's nice to get away from school all day," said Ipswich senior Taylor Petersen, who was taking part in her fourth All-Dakota High School Fine Arts Exhibition.

Schools from North Dakota and South Dakota participate every year in the event, attending one day each. Over the two days, this year's exhibition attracted 18 schools, 126 students and 21 teachers.

Ipswich teacher Angela Shimitz, bringing her students for the ninth straight year, said it's good for young people to be around other students who are interested in art. They learn new techniques from the judges and instructors who present workshops. The event also allows the students to showcase the hard work that they've been doing all year, Shimitz said.

Ipswich senior Shelby Retzer won a students' choice award for her watercolor painting of a lion, which happens to be Ipswich's mascot. She was making her first visit to the Granary, which she didn't expect to be so far out and in a calm, peaceful location, she said.

Retzer, who pointed out that the "arty atmosphere" was inspiring, found the highlight of the day to be seeing all the different artwork and "how everybody portrays art differently through their eyes."

Each school -- large or small -- brings six students to the exhibition. Many of the students wind up taking at least an art class or two in college, said Schaunaman.

An example is Naasz, who will study art and art history at Northern State University. Her goal is to some day be the head of an art department at a college.

At the All-Dakota, Naasz won a Judge's Choice honor for a ceramic creation of a tea set. What does Naasz like about ceramics?

"Being able to bend it and mold it to how exactly you want it -- being able to change things and make something out of a block of clay," said Naasz, whose favorite forms of expression, though, are pastels and sculpting.

Growth opportunities

The students benefit enormously from the feedback they receive from the two judges, said Schaunaman, who is curator of exhibits at the museum. The young artists also learn a lot from the keynote speaker -- this year Brad Bachmaier of Minnesota State University Moorhead -- and from the three workshops each day.

Students compete in 10 media categories. Winners of a Judge's Choice in each category get a trophy.

So high school athletes aren't the only ones who get a trophy.

"That's our point exactly," Schaunaman said. "But do you know how hard it is to go to a trophy store and order a trophy that isn't sports?"

One of the high school students -- the creator of best of show -- takes home $500 as well. That reflects the desire of John Sieh, the man who founded the Granary.

Sieh believes that art should also be a feasible business. Anyone can say they like a piece of art, but talk is cheap, Schaunaman said, recalling Sieh's beliefs. That's the reason a healthy cash award is given to one student each year.

Follow @jeffbahr_aan on Twitter.

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(c)2014 the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.)

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Source: Aberdeen American News (SD)