makeSPACE at the Matthews

The Matthews Opera House & Arts Center is excited to form a partnership with Spearfish nonprofit makeSPACE (Spearfish Partnership for Arts, Cycling, and Equity) to collaboratively host arts and humanities programming.  

This partnership between the two organizations was formed in hopes that their arts and humanities programming could more effectively serve the community by working together.

Programming hosted through this partnership is made possible by a South Dakota Arts Council grant awarded to and managed by makeSPACE. The Matthews is providing the physical space to host and staff time to plan, develop, and implement ongoing and new programs. 

Currently, makeSPACE at the Matthews offers the following regular programming:

Open Makerspace Hours

Every Tuesday from 10 am – 12:00 pm in the backroom of the gallery.

Artist Workshops

Every other Thursday from 4:30 -7:30 pm in the backroom of the gallery.

Author Talks

Author Talks at the Matthews returns with a new lineup of local writers ready to dive into their stories, their methods, and their inspirations. Join us in the fireplace room every Tuesday at 12:30 for an hour with some of the best authors in the Black Hills area!

Are you interested in presenting an Author Talk? Contact us at 605-717-6967 or [email protected]

April 4: Robin Carmody

Robin, born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, felt a longing for the Black Hills for as long as she can remember. A modern-day kindred spirit of those early pioneers, Robin’s background includes earning a Class A CDL license, a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, and being Chairperson of the Early Childhood Department at Bay State College in Boston.

For many years, she has devoted time to historical research of Wild Bill Hickok, his circle of friends, and the Black Hills area.

Robin is a mother of two fiercely independent, successful adult children and Nana to two beautiful, energetic grandchildren for whom she originally conceived the idea of the “But Nana” books. Her hobbies include knitting, quilting, participating in donation drives, and traveling.

For the Author Talks presentation, Robin will discuss the four books in the “But Nana” children’s book series, and how her research on Wild Bill Hickok began decades ago, bringing her to this point in time.

April 11: MJ McMillan

MJ McMillan is a poet, author and semi-retired rancher living near Murdo, SD. A lifelong resident of the state, the self-proclaimed “Poet for the Common Man” currently has three books in print: Poems for the Common Man, volumes one, two and three. The poet and author is presently working on a fourth volume of Common Man poems as well as a volume of cowboy poetry and a volume of short stories. His poetry has been well-received and published in South Dakota Magazine. He has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

April 18: Bear Lodge Writers

Bearlodge Writers will introduce their newest anthology Spirit of the Bearlodge. Bearlodge Writers, based in Sundance, Wyoming, is open to those who are looking for a serious literary critique group to attend on a regular basis. They welcome all types of writing and writers at all levels. The literary group welcomes all without regard to sex, religion, race, color, politics, brand of false teeth, and occupations other than writer.

April 25: Belle Fourche Writers

Stay tuned while we gather more information about the authors.

May 2: Geri Mendoza Gutwein

Geri Mendoza Gutwein, Ph.D., poet, educator, and lecturer is professor emerita of English at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College where she taught English, creative writing, and Native American Literature. Her poetry has appeared in the Connecticut Review, The Wildwood Journal, Fledgling Rag, La Libreta an online journal, and in Roots Trunk Sky: IWWG’s Imagination and Justice Meditation-Free Writing Circle. A Pushcart nominee, she is the author of three chapbooks: Every Orbit of the Circle, The Story She Told, and An Utterance of Small Truths. Her erasure poem Dakota 38, a poem that dealt with the 38 Dakota men who were sentenced to death in Mankato, Minnesota, was on exhibit at Birdcage Bookstore in Rapid City, South Dakota. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, she lives in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. You may visit her website at

May 16: Leslie Silverman

Silverman is a writer and journalist from Keystone who just released her first book entitled ” From Badger to Blossom with Love”. It’s a combination romance/self-help book based on love letters from her husband. Silverman is a three-time SDNA award-winning journalist and lead reporter at the Hill City Prevailer. She is also a contributing writer for Down Country Roads magazine. She lives in Keystone year-round and is working on a Southern Black Hills adventure stories guidebook for all things outdoor related  (from 2 wheels to 2 feet) that she hopes to have published by fall. Silverman’s talk will focus on the process of writing as both a journalist and author as to what and who inspires her writing and decision-making processes.

Past Authors

September 13: Bruce Junek

Bruce B. Junek is an explorer, author, photographer and speaker. In 1987 he and his wife, Tass Thacker, created Images of the World, a series of slide programs of their adventures. Over the last 23 years 1.6 million students have seen their programs. Bruce and Tass bicycled around the world from 1984-86. They have also bicycled on different journeys through Central America, South America, southern Africa and the mideast. They just bicycled through China in 2011.

He is the author of Andes to the Amazon: Seven Journeys in Mexico, Central and South America; The Road of Dreams: A Two-Year Bicycling and Hiking Adventure Around the World and a fantasy fiction trilogy, A Bright One Chronicles.

September 20: Phoenix Piazzisi

Phoenix Rayne, a.k.a. “The Paper Therapist,” is a South Dakota native and Californian by heart. She recently graduated as a valedictorian candidate with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing at Sierra Nevada University in Incline Village, Nevada. As a Humanities Department Scholar, she also won an award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry and Excellence in Journalism. She graduated in the spring of 2020 from Sierra College in Rocklin, CA with her associate degree in English.

When she was five years old, she picked up her first Shel Silverstein book and instantly fell in love with poetry, dreaming to be a published author one day. Her first poem, Winter’s Bliss, was published in 2001 with several poems following. In May of 2021, her first piece of literature, I am one with the lake, was published. Her most recent piece titled One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is about her diagnosis with bipolar disorder. Living with a Monster is her first book of poetry about living with a mental illness.

Writing has always been her way of expressing deep emotions and a way to bring the human experience to life with the written word. With a high value on honest, transparent, and empathetic writing, it is her hope to help transform the world one piece of writing at a time.

September 27: Pennie Hunt

Pennie Hunt is an inspirational, entertaining, and high-content speaker. She is a member of the National Speakers Association, Women’s Speakers Association and the President and founder of Journey Through, LLC. Her weekly blog, Writings from the Corner of Spirit & Brave is read worldwide. She is the author of two books, Love Your Life–No Matter What: 76 Tips to Live Life with Love and Gratitude and  Love Your Life — No Matter What: 76 Tips to Journey Through Grief and Loss. Her newspaper column runs in several newspapers including the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and the South Dakota Rapid City Journal.

After a series of life-changing events, including the death of her child, Pennie left her career as Executive Director of a healthcare organization where she spoke locally and nationally on healthcare recruitment. She now writes and speaks about how to change, heal and empower your life! Pennie’s personal successes and challenges have shaped her grateful-for-it-all viewpoint. She has married her own life lessons with her gift of communication to follow her passion of helping others Journey Through this life with spirit, courage, and compassion.

October 4: Geri Gutwein

Geri Mendoza Gutwein, Ph.D., professor emerita of English at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College where she taught English, creative writing, and Native American Literature for many years. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in literary journals such as the Connecticut Review, The Wildwood Journal, Roots, Trunk, Sky Anthology published by the International Women’s Writing Guild, and La Libreta, an online poetry journal. She is the author of three chapbooks of poetry: Every Orbit of the Circle, The Story She Told, and An Utterance of Small Truths. Her Lakota, Mexican-American culture and family are major influences in her work. She is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and currently lives in Spearfish, South Dakota with her husband. For more information visit her website at

October 11: Annie Christain

Annie Christain is a professor of composition and ESOL at SUNY Cobleskill and a former artist resident of the Shanghai Swatch Art Peace Hotel and the Arctic Circle Art and Science Expedition. Her poems have appeared in Seneca ReviewOxford PoetryPrelude, and The Lifted Brow, among others. She was a first-place winner of the Driftwood Press In-House Poem Contest and received the grand prize of the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, the Greg Grummer Poetry Award, the Oakland School of the Arts Enizagam Poetry Award, and the Neil Shepard Prize in Poetry. Her books include Tall As You Are Tall Between Them (C&R Press 2016) and The Vanguards of Holography (Headmistress Press 2021), selected for Sappho’s Prize in Poetry. 

October 18 & 25: Evelyn Leite

Children in families that keep secrets learn early in life to project a brave front, to avoid letting the outside world peek behind the mask, to cope alone with feelings of guilt, anger, fear and confusion.

Rapid City counselor and author Evelyn Leite grew up in such a family, struggling to understand her emotions, uncertain how she could love her parents and siblings so deeply but hate their words and actions. In her latest book “Just Fine, Thank You,” Leite explores the jumble of feelings and emotions she experienced in her early years in a closed family. She describes what it does to a young girl when the family doesn’t talk about a father who stays late at the local bar and a mother who expects her daughter to be a perfect young lady without explaining what that involves. She also shares what it does to a young child in a “no-talk’’ family as she tries to make sense of sometimes crazy, senseless behavior from people she loves.

“Just Fine, Thank You” is one of four books in a series titled Blood, Sex and Tears. She says of the series, “It’s my desire that you can find hope for yourself or a loved one based on my story of redemption.’’

Leite has had a successful, 35-year career as a professional counselor and author whose focus is on drug and alcohol problems and mental health issues. Among her best-known works are Women: What Do We Want? and A Fix for the Family Rift Caused by Addiction. She is a graduate of Black Hills State University with a composite major in Social Science. She holds a master’s degree from Oklahoma University and has presented addiction and mental health workshops in Oregon, Texas, Minneapolis, Montana, Colorado and Arizona. She has also held frequent workshops on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is currently conducting workshops for the Miskwaki Tribe in Tama, Iowa. She is the author of 14 published works including manuals for The Family Restoration Program and many newspaper and magazine articles. She’s a 2008 inductee into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

November 1: Bill Bosch

William Bosch grew up on a farm in Emmons County, east of Linton, North Dakota. Both sides of his family had German-Russian backgrounds. His mother’s family (Dockter) cam from Neudorf and Kassel, and his father’s family (Bosch) from Rosental in Crimea. After graduating from Linton High School, he attended North Dakota State University where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics education. He taught in the mathematics department at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota from 1963-65. He then studied at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where he obtained a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1970. His working years were spent teaching mathematics at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. That is where he met and married his wife Margaret. They moved to Spearfish, SD in 2005. They have a daughter, Julie, who still lives in Colorado. William is a member of the Black Hills Chapter of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society and a member of the Center of the Nation Chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. William is the author of The German-Russians in Words and Pictures.

November 8: Doug Hoff

Douglas Henry Hoff was born in 1948 and graduated as valedictorian of his high school class in 1966. He attended and was an honor student at Black Hills State University and the SD School of Mines and Technology. He and Marlene (Molly) were married in 1968 while attending SDSMT. When his parents considered the sale of the family farm Doug and Molly decided to give ranching a try and later bought the farm, which they eventually tripled in size. While there they started a herd of world-renowned registered Angus cattle, a cattle genetics and research company that they later sold to Cargill, and had two children, Brian and Andrea.

While ranching Doug received The National Ralston Purina Youth of the Year award, The SD Young Farmer of the Year award, The North American Beef Improvement Federation Seedstock Producer of the Year award, and The 2000 US Livestock Man of the Year award. He graduated from the SD Agriculture and Rural Development program. He and Molly enjoyed and lived a robust ranching career, selling semen, embryos, and cattle around the globe, with cattle from their cowherd dispersal going to five continents. Doug brought his expertise and in-depth agricultural experience to this book, helping to produce a unique perspective of the demands of agriculture and living on the prairie.

November 15: Courtney Huse-Wika & BHSU Writing Class

Courtney Huse-Wika believes in the art of collection: overheard quotes, forgotten stories, and sometimes animals. She is the author of Perch, a chapbook of nature poetry from Anchor and Plume Press, and was named a finalist for the 2021 James Hearst Poetry Prize from North American Review, and a 2020 Honorable Mention for the New Millennium Writing Awards.  Her creative work has appeared widely, including CALYX, The Halcyone, New Ohio Review, South Dakota Review, Kindred, South Dakota Magazine, South Dakota in Poems,  Midwestern Gothic, Scissors and Spackle, Backwards City Review, and the MacGuffin.  She received her BA in philosophy and English from Augustana University, her MA and PhD in English with a specialization in creative writing from the University of South Dakota, and is currently an Associate Professor of English and Distinguished Faculty at Black Hills State University.

November 29: Michael Harris

Michael Harris lives in the Black Hills near Deadwood South Dakota. He is a husband and a father. His first novel “Outlaw Blood” is a Post Apocalyptic Western, set sometime in the near future after a global economic crash has devastated the world’s countries.

Michael enjoys shooting, hiking, reading, writing, and hunting. He has ranched and worked cattle, served in the U.S. Army for eight years, been a Law Enforcement Officer, survived 17 years as Mr. Mom, and is now an author.

December 6: Troy Dobyns

At two weeks old, Troy started traveling with his family due to his father’s Naval career. He and his family lived in many places but always came home to the Black Hills for vacations. When their father retired, they knew this would be their permanent home.

In the spring of 1972, the family moved to Rapid City just in time to live through the Rapid City flood. Troy’s story is intertwined with several others from the maternal side of his family who also fought the waters of that horrible night in June 1972. These stories are revealed through several accounts of the family but mostly through the eyes of the then-eight-year-old author. The story covers the day of the flood, the night of the flood, survivorship, the aftermath, and the recovery.

NEW DATE — February 21, 2023: Robyn VanDersys

Robyn VanDerSys was born in Washington State, which is where her love for the great outdoors was born.  She has lived in several different states and in 2015 settled in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and kids.

Her life has consisted of one adventure to the next, including racing monster trucks in her early twenties,  raising three strong children, riding around Mexico on her four-wheeler while living out of a backpack, and volunteering on a chase team while her husband raced the Baja 1000.

She spends her free time off-roading and hiking the many trails of the Black Hills, and also enjoys traveling and having as many adventures as humanly possible.

January 10: Karen Holzer and Bill Feterl
This week’s Author Talks will feature “Let’s Feed the Fish,” written by Kindra Gordon, Karen Holzer, and Joanna Jones and illustrated by local artist, Bill Feterl. Feterl will discuss the process he used to plan and create his artwork as well as the planning and organization of the pages, how the text was chosen, and the printing process. The book tells the story of two young boys visiting the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery in Spearfish. Two excited young boys explore the D.C. Booth, zig zagging through the scenic grounds learning about raceways, touring a museum, visiting the Booth House, and feeding the fish.

January 17: South Dakota State Poetry Society
South Dakota State Poetry Society (SDSPS) came into existence in 1926. It has operated continuously publishing two volumes of Pasque Petals annually. SDSPS poets Heidi Moseley, Jean Helmer and others, as weather permits, will share readings from Pasque Petals, and discuss the of writing poetry. Information on membership and on how to submit works for publication will also be provided. Jean Helmer writes of experiences garnered farming and ranching, and of her careers in classrooms and rural church pulpits. She and husband Gary live near Belle Fourche with their literary pups, Annie Grabstreak and Ginny Woolf. She is published in Pasque Petals, and in various SD and WY anthologies. Holly Moseley lives in Camp Crook. She is secretary of the South Dakota State Poetry Society, and belongs to both the Belle Fourche and Bearlodge Writers groups. Her poems have been published in Pasque Petals, several anthologies, and South Dakota Magazine.

January 24: Kathy Bjornestad
Kathy Bjornestad is a retired K-12 school librarian and Language Arts teacher. She has been writing novels since the fifth grade and has experimented with poetry, novels for all ages, and creative nonfiction. Bjornestad is an award-winning author who calls the Black Hills of South Dakota home. She believes in the power of books to promote empathy and awaken wonder and appreciation for the natural world. She will speak about her new book, Rhymes from the Reef.

February 7: Belle Fourche Writers

Members of Belle Fourche Writers present Family Stories Revisited. Authors Jean Helmer and Margaret “Margie” Bolte will share stories of their writing journeys and their works in progress, including a story based on an old Mexican folklore tale of The Weeping Woman.

Margie Bolte retired to Belle Fourche, her husband Dave’s hometown, following a career in the U.S. Public Health Service. She served as a Safety and Health Educator with the Food & Drug Administration and with Indian Health Services. She grew up in eastern Colorado and earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Minnesota.

Jean Helmer, 4th generation South Dakotan, taught in PeeWee Prep School, Belle Fourche High School, Black Hills State University, and in National Writing Project Summer Institutes. She pastored rural parishes in Butte and Harding Counties. Her works appear in Pasque Petals, and anthologies and newspapers in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Minnesota.

February 21: Robyn VanDerSys
Robyn VanDerSys was born in Washington State, which is where her love for the great outdoors was born.  She has lived in several different states and in 2015 settled in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and kids.

Her life has consisted of one adventure to the next, including racing monster trucks in her early twenties,  raising three strong children, riding around Mexico on her four wheeler while living out of a backpack, and volunteering on a chase team while her husband raced the Baja 1000.

She spends her free time off-roading and hiking the many trails of the Black Hills, and also enjoys traveling and having as many adventures as humanly possible.

February 28: Noel Hamiel
Noel Hamiel is a career newspaperman of 35 years beginning at the Huron Plainsman, and the final 14 years at The Daily Republic where he retired as publisher in 2007. In 2007, he accepted a position with the South Dakota Community Foundation where he worked with communities statewide in philanthropic development. During his career, Hamiel received numerous awards for editorial and column writing. He served as an instructor of mass communications at St. Thomas More College, Fort Thomas, Ky. He is also the author of Sketches of South Dakota, published in 2002 and illustrated by Allison Hamiel.

Hamiel will speak about his book, South Dakota Mathis Murders: Horror in the Heartland, which focusses on, perhaps, the most infamous murder case in state history. Mathis was shot twice in the head at point-blank range inside the family’s steel shed serving as their makeshift home. Two of her three children, ages 2 and 4, were also shot in the head. The brutality of the killings shocked the state and set off a frenzy of law enforcement activity. Despite its intensity, the investigation never found the murderer or the murder weapon. Though charged with the crime, Mathis’s husband was acquitted, leaving the door open for endless speculation about what really occurred on that late summer morning of Sept. 8, 1981. With renewed insight from those involved, veteran South Dakota journalist Noel Hamiel explores this cold case of murder and mystery that still haunts the Mount Rushmore state.

March 7: Belle Fourche Writers

Belle Fourche Writers present The Many Faces of Marnie Anderson. The group’s 2022 “Writers’ Challenge” was to “birth a character” and then use two or more of the characters in a story. One character, Marnie Anderson, a 45-year-old City Administrator of Scandinavian descent, appears in several stories. Marnie is successful at her career but hides the one thing she wishes she had been able to achieve. Come meet Marnie as she appears in three stories.

Meet the authors:

Joan Gerkin is a South Dakota native, moving to Belle Fourche in 1989. Her early years as a farm wife and mother, was followed by a twenty-year career as a Fairfield Inn by Marriott General Manager. Now retired, she draws on her life experiences for writing inspiration.

Lynda Edwards began writing after taking creative writing courses provided by Community Education of the Black Hills. Her writings include fiction, poetry, and memoirs f other childhood ranch life. Her writings have won awards at the SD State Fair.

Eric Beeman grew up in Minnesota. After high school, he served four years in the US Navy, then enrolled in an electronics program. He retired in 2019 after a career as a maintenance technician.

March 14: Vikktoria Peterson

Stay tuned as we gather more information about author Vikktoria Peterson and her upcoming discussion on flash fiction memoir!

March 28: Jean Helmer

On March 28, Jean Helmer joins us from Belle Fourche Writers to present From Plains, Podiums, and Pulpits. Helmer’s writing is drawn from roots in high plains agriculture, from her years in education, and from years as a country pastor. A past director of Dakota Writing Project’s Summer institutes, ranch kid/educator/pastor has been published in WyoPoets 2020 Chapbook, in several editions of South Dakota State Poetry Society’s Pasque Petals, in Gyroscope, and in various anthologies and newspapers. Bring your paper and a writing instrument. This Author Talk is interactive!

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