Bellman Brown Bag Series

Sandy Swallow and Scott Simpson

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Join us for this month’s free Bellman Brown Bag Series on Wednesday, March 13 at noon in the Matthews Theater as Sandy Swallow and Scott Simpson present their collaborative projects “Running the Milky Way,” and “Sister Star.”  In a captivating fusion of visual and auditory artistry, Oglala Lakota visual artist, Sandy Swallow, and songwriter, Scott Simpson, both Spearfish, SD residents, showcase original music inspired by Swallow’s evocative mixed media pieces.

“Running the Milky Way” is an homage to the Horse Nation, making it a resonant piece for anyone who shares a deep appreciation for these majestic creatures. Swallow’s mastery of hand-pulled block printmaking, infused with Native American symbolism, sets the stage for this unique musical journey. Composing the poignant lyrics herself, she explores the spiritual connection to nature, family, and the profound interconnection with the Horse Nation. Simpson, a versatile musician, serves as the composer, recording artist, and producer, weaving his musical finesse seamlessly with Swallow’s artistic vision.  “Running the Milky Way” reflects the heartbeat of the Lakota Horse Nation, emphasizing their roles as relatives in this life and beyond. 

“Sister Star” is the second collaborative project of Oglala Lakota artist Sandy Swallow and Songwriter Scott Simpson. It is an honoring song for Sandy’s older sister Donna who was murdered in 1968, and a song of action and encouragement for all families of Missing or Murdered Indigenous Women or Men. #MMIW

About the presenters…

Scott Simpson is a songwriter, poet, educator and indie music producer who lives in Spearfish Canyon. He’s been songwriting and recording songs since age six or seven, and since 2000, has produced and released more than 40 albums (most available on all digital outlets). Scott was a high school and college English teacher and theatre director for many years and completed his Ph.D. in Creative Writing in 1997. After publishing for several years in various poetry publications (including a 2000 nomination for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry), he began to transition his writing focus from poetry to songwriting. He has been a Learning Specialist with Rapid City-based Technology & Innovation in Education for more than ten years. During that time, he co-developed and now co-directs the WoLakota Project which provides resources and training for schools throughout South and North Dakota and elsewhere in the implementation of Native American Essential Understandings and Culturally Responsive Education. A key part of his work is facilitating Circles of Trust in which individuals come together in retreat to engage in respect-filled conversation and personal storytelling.

Internationally and locally renowned, Sandy Swallow’s artistic passion began in mid-life, as she experimented with oils and watercolors while living on a ranch near Pine Ridge. Being self-taught, Sandy created art capturing her spiritual
connection to nature, home, and family. Sandy is most well known for her hand-pulled block printmaking. This painstaking medium provides her with the ability to create dramatic pieces saturated with deep earth and pastel colors that evoke traditional Native American symbols and images from the natural world. Her prints convey a soothing, peaceful quality that enhances any living or workspace. National recognition of her artwork began in 1999, when she was selected to be the artist for the National American Indian Heritage Poster for the United States Department of Agriculture with her piece “In the Eye of a Feather.”.10,000 prints were distributed worldwide. In 2007 she was commissioned to provide the artwork for the “USDA Guide to American Indians and Alaska Natives Programs.” Sandy is honored to have displayed her art in many prestigious places such as the Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY; the Newberry Library, Chicago, IL; and at a traveling exhibit “Through Indian Eyes” for the legacy of Lewis & Clark and to have worked with buyers from as far away as Sweden, England, and Germany.

About the Bellman Brown Bag Series…

The Bellman Brown Bag series is a humanities program designed to explore ideas, history, literature, art, and culture. The Brown Bag program was developed by Dr. Stewart Bellman in the 1990’s. Recognizing the Matthews Opera House as an ideal venue for the exploration of humanities topics, he engaged a line-up of speakers to present programs on a range of humanities topics each month.

Dr. Bellman was a professor of English at Black Hills State University, Spearfish, SD. His teaching career spanned thirty years. Bellman retired from BHSU and passed away in November 2002.

Programs are presented on the second Wednesday of each month, noon to 1 pm. Designed to begin and end within the lunch hour, patrons are invited to bring their lunch, if desired, or simply enjoy an hour of learning and entertainment.  This is an opportunity to gain insight into themes that touch our daily lives.


Coffee for the Bellman Brown Bag Series is generously provided by Common Grounds in Spearfish, SD.



Date and Time:


Wednesday, March 13, 2024


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm



612 Main Street
Spearfish, 57783 United States
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