ArtCentral: This is how we RE:Create!

By Elizabeth Freer
Matthews Opera House, ArtCentral Manager

Elizabeth Freer, ArtCentral Mgr.

Over 550 people in our community have gathered over the last three weeks in RE:Create – our creative community makerspace in The Matthews Art Gallery. People have come in and discovered the magic that happens when we share our time, talents, resources, and knowledge with our community.This winter is an exciting time to be in Spearfish!

ArtCentral Film Festival: Season One is underway, co-hosted by Northern Hills Rotary Club. The second film titled “Waste Land” is on February 20th at 6:30 pm (free), at The Matthews Opera House.




On February 3rd, RE:Create – our creative community makerspace opened in The Matthews. For 7 weeks (Feb 3 – Mar 24), there is something for everyone in the space, and it is all FREE!

Since RE:Create opened on February 3rd, over 275 people have come in to participate in a variety of regularly scheduled workshops and activities; just as many people have simply come in and made use of this incredible (FREE!) community resource that is available through March 24th. It is a place where everyone belongs, and there is something for everyone.

Last week, nearly 40 people attended “Art Happy Hour” (Tuesdays, 4:30-6pm) to learn watercolor pencil techniques from Spearfish City Planner, Jayna Watson. We shared pencils, worked together, laughed, and had a great time trying something new.

Twice a week (Tuesday and Friday, noon to 1 pm), we are treated to “Author Visits.” The depth and wealth of knowledge that is shared by our local authors through these sessions are powerful. Upcoming visits are listed online and include Kaija Swisher, Courtney Huse Wika, Laurie Williams-Hayes, Joanna Mechaley, and more! Will you come join us?

Regularly scheduled activities, beyond the Author Visits, include Art Happy Hour (Tuesdays, 4:30-6pm), Coffee Talk & Tinker (Thursdays, 9:30-11am), and Artist Workshops (Saturday, 10am-1pm). Check the website ( for details, and please call the Gallery to sign-up for workshops (605.642.7973 x0) as space is limited for some activities. We also welcome everyone to come in outside of workshops and explore your creativity!

Through RE:Create, we provide opportunities to highlight the talent of our local authors and artists, meet new people, share knowledge resources, and learn together. Newer residents in Spearfish – professors, professionals, retirees – as well as long-time Spearfishians are having impactful experiences in RE:Create.

Through Creekside’s after-school program and the Spearfish Recreation Center afterschool art class, our elementary school students are visiting Re:Create and have opportunities to work directly with and learn from community artists. This involvement helps our students gain new perspectives, provides a hands-on experience and fosters a love of the arts. Research shows that when students participate in the arts, they are more likely to be civically engaged; this means that arts participation is building our future community leaders.

Feedback provided through participant surveys to date indicates that people are enjoying the opportunity to learn something new, the inclusivity of experience, the diversity of activities, the welcoming environment, and the community interactions. Through these interactions and experiences, we demonstrate that art is a life-enhancing community asset.

RE:Create is possible because of partnerships in our community; our community organizations and institutions recognize the value of the arts and of working together. It is as vibrant and magical as it is because individuals have made important contributions. We are actively using art as a tool to strengthen our community.

The arts develop creative people; creative people build creative communities; creative communities are better equipped to address challenges and opportunities.

ArtCentral is a community collaboration, funded by a 2016 Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant, to centralize the arts as an integrated asset for inclusivity, economic development, and outreach in Spearfish. As this is a community-based project, we welcome feedback and suggestions, as well as volunteers. Please contact us by email at[email protected]

Lead by Elizabeth Freer, ArtCentral manager at The Matthews, the project brings together a committee of advocates, artists, and residents working together over two years to create a new model for arts planning and outreach, focusing on the themes of belonging, inclusion, equity, rural connectedness, cultivating creativity, imagining space, and the arts as a community development catalyst.

“I am excited for this opportunity to work in Spearfish with The Matthews on this innovative and important project to advance the arts in our community,” stated Freer. “I encourage local residents who are interested in participating in this process to apply to be a part of the committee.”