See the world through the eyes of Black Hills artists
Step off Main Street in Spearfish into our Fine Arts Gallery. Around each corner (and even from the ceiling!) you will find bold, innovative, and diverse art pieces in every medium. All artwork in the gallery is created by Black Hills artists.
A passageway to the historic Matthews Opera House, the Gallery space transforms for art openings and community art projects. Events like the Community Art Show and partnerships with the Black Hills State University students and faculty demonstrate that the arts are for everyone, and everyone is an artist.
Visit the Matthews Art Gallery
Admission is free. The Gallery is open year-round, Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Free parking is available directly in front of the Gallery on Main Street in Spearfish.
Our Current Exhibit:
Mythos & Fantasy: January 13 – March 24
The Matthews has been selected as a participant in the 2023 NEA Big Read and is excited to announce the “Fantasy and Mythos” art exhibition!
This year’s Big Read novel is Madeline Miller’s fantasy, Circe. To celebrate the novel’s theme of magic and lore, we are exhibiting works of art that reflect fantasy, legend, mystery, and the imaginative spirit! The exhibition will be open to the public until Friday, March 24.
About the NEA Big Read
The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, a partnership with Arts Midwest, broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $24 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, NEA Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 16 years, grantees have leveraged more than $56 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.9 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 97,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible.
Visit arts.gov/neabigread for more information about the NEA Big Read. Organizations interested in applying for an NEA Big Read grant in the future should visit Arts Midwest’s website for more information
44th Annual Community Art Show: April 3 – May 6
The Matthews Opera House and Art Center is excited to announce its 44th Annual Community Art Show. Once again, the Matthews is opening its doors to artists of all ages and abilities, from amateur to professional, to exhibit their work.
The exhibition will be on display in the Matthews Gallery from April 3 – May 6 during regular business hours, Monday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm.
An opening reception will be held on April 7 at 5 pm, and the event is free to attend. Winners of Best of Show, adult, and youth categories will be announced that evening. Attendees will also be offered the first opportunity to cast their ballot for People’s Choice. Voting will remain open in this category through April 28. The People’s Choice Award will be announced on the Matthews Facebook page on May 6.
This call is open to all artists, age groups, levels, and media. Entries must be delivered to the Matthews Gallery at 612 N Main St, Spearfish from March 20 – 25. Pieces may be picked up the week after the show has concluded.
Summer Art Series Exhibit:
This showcase features the talents of Black Hills artists. The exhibit is open to the public from May through Labor Day. The series is structured to support the local artistic community with each piece in the gallery ready to sell and take home the same day.
Submit your artwork to the Gallery
Entries accepted March 20 – April 21
During our annual Call for Artists, artists of the Black Hills are invited to submit an application with three photos of their work and a brief artist statement to [email protected]. During the jurying process, the Exhibits Committee will assess applicants based on the quality of work submitted and the needs of the gallery in terms of aesthetic balance and diversity.
Our 2022 Artists
Click on an artist name below to be taken to their bio.
Kirsten Birst: Pinecone Boneworks
Helen Goodman Champ
Carol Lee Hilgeman
Michael Baum is a South Dakota native who, over the last twenty years, has focused much of his time exploring the mountain ranges of California, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, and Alaska. His interactions with nature and the wilderness became the impetus for his graduate studies in fine art, which he completed at Washington State University with an emphasis on drawing and printmaking.
Michael is currently an Assistant Professor of Studio Art at BHSU. Michael’s work has been included in numerous national and international exhibitions. Regionally his drawing and print-based work has been featured at The Plains Art Museum, the South Dakota Art Museum, the John A. Day Gallery at USD, and The Dahl Arts Center. His work has also been accepted into multiple public collections, which include the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Oregon, the Museum of Art/WSU in Washington, the Boise Art Museum, Idaho, the Missoula Art Museum in Montana, Museum of Texas Tech University, and Special Collections, University of Colorado-Boulder.
Lynn and her family moved to the Black Hills more than 35 years ago and still appreciate the surrounding beauty and its people. Many of her paintings and photographs are inspired by them. While living in western South Dakota, Lynn has done a number of paintings and commissioned pieces. She says her greatest pleasure and accomplishment is when the person purchasing the painting is happy and satisfied with the work.
Explanation of Process: Most of my work is done in either watercolor or a combination of watercolor and mixed media which may include chalk and acrylic. I like to work quickly at first, putting in washes and background color with a wet-on-wet technique with lighter shades and then gradually using more detail and darker colors. Some recent techniques I have tried are more abstract paintings and using sequins in my art for a little surprise and hint of mystery. I really like color, so most of my paintings are full of varied colors. In a number of my paintings, I try to capture feeling and put them into my art. This part of the process is still “in process.”
Kirsten Birst: Pinecone Boneworks
Kirsten moved to Rapid City in January 2021 and immediately began exploring the area and learning about her new home. A lifelong hiker, she immediately began wandering the many local trails and was drawn to the gorgeous things she found in nature–not only the living, blooming things, but also the things that had once been a vibrant part of the local environment–the bones of wild animals, the ghostly driftwood that lay near Pactola Lake, the delicate paper of a discarded wasps’ nest, the empty husk of a dead beetle. She began collecting the things she found and bringing them home to create art with them, each collage a unique creation that highlights the beauty of the natural world of South Dakota. She creates these collages as a way to bring nature indoors, to remind people of the beauty of the natural world, and hopefully to encourage them to explore the areas and enjoy the glory of the living world.
Helen Goodman Champ
As a nature lover, Helen’s propensity towards painting landscapes, florals, old farm buildings, and the beauty of the Black Hills have been a constant inspiration. She always wants the viewer to feel a personal connection through her art. Watercolor is the medium she prefers and her style is loose and fluid/impressionistic. She and her husband Dennis are retired and live in Rapid City. Helen was a preschool special needs teacher and also a kindergarten teacher for 28 years, where she used her love for painting backdrops for her students’ artwork. Helen is a member of the Black Hills Art Association and has been juried into the Matthews Opera House and Art Center since 2019. She is currently a member of The Northern Plains Watercolor Society, Artists of the Black Hills, and most recently, a volunteer at the Suzie Cappa Art Center in Rapid City.
Sionainn Behre Chandler, known professionally as SB_Chandler, is an artist based in the isolated northern Black Hills of South Dakota. Not originally from the area, however, SB calls this place home. SB Chandler’s art resonates with dark, sexual dissonance that critically examines the human condition. Focusing on themes relating to sex, gender, relationship and technology, satire of religious practices, and experimentation with rituals.
Skott Chandler is a photographic artist and educator at Black Hills State University in Spearfish. His photographic work focuses on experimental film and digital photographic processes and conceptual image-making about the concepts of human relationships with time, spaces, fear, night, the unseen, and the unknown.
Susan Drey has always loved drawing–the feel of the pencil on the paper–the gesture of making a mark. The quality of line is fundamental to her work, and where her emotion towards the subject is most expressed. She tries to allow the viewer to see a part of her creative process through her vivid lines, which often take on a life of their own, as she works her way to the final composition. She has gradually moved away from any learned technique as it seems to be a distraction from her relationship with the subject. She searches for the essence, the innate structure, beauty, and character of everything she paints.
Ethan Engel is an artist born and raised in Winner, SD. His passion for art began at four years old when his grandmother taught him how to paint ceramics. He later went on to Black Hills State University, obtaining a degree in art and graphic communications.
His works are inspired by his history with autism, showing his internal conflicts and the struggles of understanding his disability. Using his work as a powerful catharsis, Ethan strives to teach the public more about autism through his painting, sculpting, photography and mixed media works–creating positive, informative imagery from his personal experiences.
“I want people to try and understand what autism is all about. How I deal with situations, my emotions. When you’re hearing me talk, I do have that processing issue. That’s why I wanted to play with the viewer a bit and get them interacted and try to connect with how the story goes.”
Alexandra is a South Dakota native mixed medium artist focused on unique colors and textures to bring ordinary images to life. For her subject matter, she primarily focuses on animals and landscapes. She loves bringing landscapes alive through unique marriages of colors while her animal pieces are generally muted and focused on emotional depth. Inspired by her ranching background and love of animals, she finds herself painting wildlife as a way to tell the story of her past and her hopes for the future. For the last year, Alexandra has been working on large-scale pieces commissioned for her clients across the midwest. Most recently her art was on display at the National Western Stockshow and at the Black Hills Art Gala.
Carol Lee Hilgemann
Assemblages and collages have been noticeably practiced since the early 20th century. To Carol, these techniques are the perfect metaphor for contemporary culture. Gathering and sorting miscellanea is a major component of her creative process. The fragments that make up the assemblages are similar to the images and moments that make up our daily lives. Each element has a history and context. No fragment is important by itself but, taken as a whole, they assume a significance greater than the sum of the parts. She intends to have the pieces work at the visual level by the careful placement of objects as distinct yet related forms, and at the emotional level by suggesting important cultural and spiritual content from the “artifacts.” Ultimately, her assemblages are representations of the complexity of human existence.
After retiring from nursing, Vicki learned how to draw and paint using a variety of mediums. She paints anything that is unique and has plenty of character, including people, animals, and landscapes. Vicki also teaches garden design and is a published author.
Nicole Klungness is a Wyoming native who is currently a BCA candidate focusing on graphic design & photography at BHSU.
Nicole’s work has been accepted to multiple gallery exhibitions including the Dahl Arts Center Mountain Photo Exhibition in Rapid City, the Phia B. Artist’s Gallery in Casper, WY as well as the Modern Visual Arts Gallery in Bethlehem, PA. Nicole was awarded the 2021-2022 Black Hills Energy Scholarship as a standout graphic design student.
“One of the most integral parts of being human is the act of observing. My artistic practice originates from my own interpretations of the physical world around me, as I often find that there are stories hidden within the everyday, begging to be explored and understood. My current body of work is driven by my deep interest in the idea that there is mystery in the familiar and beauty in the mundane. My recent screenprints utilize the layering of shapes, colors, and text to highlight these moments and feelings in a distinctive way. The creation of these prints was driven by an active exploration within my own archives of recent travels.”
William “Billy” LeRoy was a self-taught artist until he attended BHSU in Spearfish. His art professors helped him to understand the tools needed to fill the gaps in his ever-growing passion for fine arts. While growing up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, he became a skilled ballpoint artist. Unable to afford quality art supplies, he was able to use what people would easily discard. Eventually, he was able to buy his own art supplies and now his artwork can be found in multiple galleries. Currently, you can find his artwork in Parker, CO at the Beautiful Framing and Art Gallery “noted best in Parker 2022,” and he hopes to keep it moving.
The process Will has developed in the past ten years incorporates a technique he calls “chip away.” When creating ceramics, the artist pushes the limits of the clay, applying pressure at a specific time, and allowing new forms to arise, with the goal of designing something delicate, structurally sound, and seemingly perfect. The breakdown process gives every piece a 50 percent chance of surviving, after already having been pushed to its breaking point. Will’s greatest influence is his mother, who lives with Huntington’s Disease (HD), a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disease. Will has watched her break down one piece at a time, slowly losing abilities and pieces of herself. HD is hereditary, with a 50 percent chance of passing the disease on, with no known cure or effective treatment. Thankfully, Will has tested negative. He hopes to advocate for HD by spreading awareness through the art community, as well as donating a portion of profits towards research.
Teri McTighe grew up on the Great Plains of western South Dakota. She is a third and fourth-generation descendant of homesteaders: her paternal grandfather in 1908 and maternal great-grandfather in 1910. She grew up on her grandfather’s original homestead, chasing her parents’ Hereford cows horseback from the time she was old enough to stay in the saddle.
Teri began creating art when her mom, also an artist, first put the tools in her hands and gave her free rein to experiment as she chose. She quickly turned her love of the land and animals towards her art by painting, drawing, and sculpting all she saw in her day-to-day life. This love eventually led Teri to BHSU, where she earned her B.A. in Fine Art in 2007 and a second B.A. in English in 2009.
Still living and working on the family ranch, Teri trains her own horses and uses them in her ranch work. Teri draws inspiration from her horse’s unique personalities and all the variety of moods and motions that are inherent in them. Teri portrays the familiar animals, landscapes, and characters in pencil, watercolor, and sculpture, working free-hand from her own photography.
Being intrigued by feathers, she began painting turkey feathers in 2012. She loves to paint on all things natural: wood, handmade paper, and eggs, but feathers are her ultimate favorite canvas.
Darrell Mohr was born and raised in Deadwood. After graduating from Lead-Deadwood High School, he attended SDSU. Initially, Mohr studied Environmental Management; transitioned into a double major studying both biology and art, but ultimately graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Arts and Sciences with a commercial Arts Emphasis.
Like many artists born in the American West, Darrell is inspired by the vastness of the landscape and humbled by its sheer beauty. “I am unceasingly influenced by the wildlife, the land, and the skies. It provides constant inspiration, stimulation, and awe.”
The biggest overall influence on Mohr’s art over the last 10 years has probably been stained glass. Darrell has been working in a style mimicking stained glass. “I love the bold thick outlines and bold colors of stained glass. I create textures and patterns to further mimic types of glass or other types of materials or ornamentation that can be incorporated into actual stained glass. To me, the stained glass style serves as a flexible working style and a metaphor for my attitude towards nature.”
Originally from Wisconsin, Diane Myers moved to the Black Hills in 1993 with her husband Jack and two children. Diane’s heart found a true home here in the Black Hills not only for her family but for her artistic talent. Diane believes that her artistic abilities are a gift from God. It is by His Amazing Grace that she feels she is able to paint on any given surface as well as paint and give life to any subject. Diane feels she is not alone in this quest as she believes her hand is guided by the Heavens, hence the name of her company is “Spirit Reigned Art.”
Diane has been drawn to the arts and has been drawing since the age of four. She began her artistic career in her teens drawing and painting personalized portraits of family, pets, homesteads, buildings, barns, churches, etc. Her education in the arts has been through several art classes, but she is mostly self-taught. Diane’s true artistic passion is in the form of all animals, both tame and wild. Being intrigued by feathers, Diane began painting turkey feathers in 2012. Although she loves to paint on all things natural (wood, handmade paper, and eggs), feathers have become her ultimate favorite canvas.
Quintin Owens received a Master of Fine Arts from The Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Herron School of Art & Design. His work explores how memories can be gathered and bundled into placeholders as he creates compositions of objects that strive to articulate a wondrous sense of an encountered place in time. Quintin has a special interest in exploring clay as a material and is investigating how the possibilities of digital fabrication processes can connect studio art production to other disciplines and fields of study.
He has also painted two outdoor murals in Lead SD, including the prominent “Newton’s Neutrino Nexus” on Highway 14, just north of the traffic light. Christopher believes that art should stimulate the mental, spiritual, emotional, and aesthetic realms.
Mark’s work is a series of moments and their effects on him. Each image he paints influences the next and is influenced by the last, filling in the pieces of a larger picture. For Mark, that picture is the human condition. His interests lie in the tragic and the mundane as well as the comic and beautiful. According to Mark, humans are a complex combination of emotions and consciousness and what they leave behind is just as complex. The things people make and think of as important now, become the antiquated relics of a bygone era. Painting allows Mark to occasionally get a glimpse of the puzzle and how the pieces may fit together. He says, “I get a peek of the picture on the box. Maybe that’s why I never feel truly finished with a painting. I never really know when to stop. There always seems to be another piece out there.”
How much control do we have over our lives? Is the dominant force in our world entropy or order? Can we find pleasure and beauty amid the chaos? Niklas Peters grapples with these questions through art.
This series of code art emphasizes the tension between repetition and variation, order and chaos. With a mixture of structured and abstract forms, the pieces make reference to natural and human-made phenomena, including textiles, flowers, bones, water, and more. While the code and mathematics used to create these pieces are generally used to model real-world systems, Niklas prefers to experiment and play with these tools, stumbling upon evocative and unexpected results. As a self-taught programmer and artist, Niklas utilizes a variety of mediums, from generative code art to hand-cut collage, to explore the boundaries between digital and analog forms, between meticulous planning and unpredictable outcomes.
Niklas Peters was born and raised in Spearfish and is happy to call this community home again after nearly 15 years away. More work and information can be found at www.niklaspeters.com
Barbara Kieffer Rowe
The ancient world and nature themes in Barbara Kieffer Rowe’s works combine the artist’s fascination with forms and events belonging to the Earth over millions of years. Her advanced degrees in art, geology, and paleontology influenced a wide range of imagery that incorporates intrinsic natural design. Barbara treasures the artistic expression of local images that emphasize pattern, color, shape, and texture developed predominantly with layers of acrylic paint. Her work intuitively and personally captures the Black Hills’ beauty and ancient intrigue in innovative multimedia processes that frequently coalesce with specimens from the area’s world-famous rocks and fossils.
Desy Shoenewies received her M.F.A. in painting from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri in 2010. Her Master’s thesis work consists of large-scale figurative oil paintings in a series titled “Interactions.” In addition to oil painting, she has experience working with a number of mediums and themes, including encaustic, collage, drawing, and illustrative works. Her paintings are consistently exhibited in juried or invited exhibitions in local, national, and international shows. Desy taught middle school and high school art in the St. Louis area for nine years before moving to San Francisco, California in 2010. She taught art at City College of San Francisco and was involved in a number of drawing and painting groups in California before moving to the Black Hills in 2012. Desy has worked as an assistant professor of art at Black Hills State University since 2012.
Christopher was born in New Hampshire and grew up in Massachusetts, and has lived in the American west for nearly all of his adult life. Self-taught in art, he has been seriously involved in painting (primarily with contemporary-abstract styles) for over 30 years and has exhibited his artwork in MA, UT, SD, CA, and AK. He has also painted two outdoor murals in Lead including the prominent “Newton’s Neutrino Nexus” on Highway 14, just north of the traffic light. Christopher believes that art should stimulate the mental, spiritual, emotional, and aesthetic realms.
The western way of life is important Kathy Sigle. She grew up with horses and many times visited her grandparents’ farm, spending time around the milk cow or the herds of cattle. Kathy has spent countless hours on the working ranch, gathering references for her paintings. She feels the authentic western lifestyle is slipping away, and she needs to capture the fading scenes with her brush. These fleeting moments are what excite and spur her to keep this lifestyle alive for others to see and experience.
As Kathy prepared for college, her dad asked her what she wanted to do for a career and she said, “All I have ever wanted to be was an artist.”
“I believe I have been given a talent and my goal is to paint every day and become the best artist I can be. Even now, after years of painting, I realize the more I work in watercolors, the more I have yet to learn. It’s an exciting journey and I hope you enjoy experiencing my artwork as much as I have enjoyed painting it,” remarks Kathy. She is always excited about what is next to come.
Sue Stoddart has been living in the Black Hills area since 1992. She works primarily with oils and watercolors, using them to interpret landscapes and still life arrangements. Sue does a lot of outdoor (Plein air) painting and likes to combine that with explorations of the Black Hills. These panels are all created with only three primary colors and white. They are mostly completed en Plein air or from sketches created in the field.
During the Covid-19 outbreak, when social distancing became the norm, Sue went out to the forest to paint. In the woods, there is no virus or any of the clamor of daily life. It is a place where everything is alright with the world, even for just a moment. These little paintings are just a glimpse of the peace and solitude found at that time.
Dick Termes is an internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been recognized from the US to Japan. His one-of-a-kind spherical paintings have been published in books all over the world. Unlike most painters, Termes paints on spheres. Each Termesphere is a revolving three-dimensional space/time exploration of an entirely closed universe.
What is a Termesphere?
A Termesphere is an optical illusion, an inside-out view of the total physical world around you on the outside surface of a hanging and rotating sphere. If you were on the inside of this sphere, this painted image around you would seem normal. Termespheres capture the up, down, and all-around visual world using a six-point perspective system. Dick Termes has been painting spherical paintings since 1968 when he received his Master’s Degree from the University of Wyoming. He continued his pursuit with his thesis on the Termesphere at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles where he received his Master’s in Fine Arts.
Kat grew up in ranch country in western South Dakota and loves depicting the western lifestyle. She works in many mediums, with oil as a favorite. She is self-taught in her art and is always striving to study and learn from artists she admires. She has taken up Plein Aire painting as a new adventure and enjoys the challenge of painting nature on sight. Kat has been a member of Weaver Art Gallery of Sturgis, and the Matthews Opera House and Arts Center and has displayed art at the 1875 Gallery in Sundance, WY. She works out of her Purple Sage Studio in Whitewood.
Marion Toillion is a master artist who has enjoyed painting throughout her life. Her line of work is diverse, including portraits, landscapes, events, South Dakota’s important historical figures, animals, and flowers. In particular, she is interested in depicting landscape scenes of the Black Hills and South Dakota plains as well as portraits of Native American life. Marion works in watercolor, allowing the media greater freedom in looser areas while maintaining tight control in areas where she wants focus. Light is also an important part of her paintings.
Toillion is a signature member of the Northern Plains Watercolor Society. She studied art at the University of Nebraska as well as in Manila, Philippines, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Toillion serves yearly as an artist in residence at Sylvan Lake Lodge.
Marianne’s artistic life began in early childhood, sitting by her father’s side as he sketched portraits of their family. Her mother painted in oils and watercolors and went to welding classes, learning to sculpt metal. When Marianne was six years old, her family moved to a large home, and her parents gave her an extra room, which they called the “fourth room.” Her parents filled this room with art supplies: watercolors, easels, conté crayons, pastels, pencils, several types of paper, a drawing table, and – her very favorite – oil pastels. “Within this room, I created many ‘masterpieces’ and many messes. I was always praised for my creations and creativity. I was really blessed in life to have such a ‘colorful’ beginning.”
Robert Vore grew up on a ranch in northeastern Wyoming. Being immersed in the landscape as a child has had a strong impact on his art. He graduated from San Francisco State University in 1978 with a painting major and printmaking minor. After college, he took a job in the federal government and lived in various parts of the US. Upon retirement, he moved back to the Black Hills, where he currently resides. Robert works in representational as well as abstract. He develops his images through intuition by starting with a basic idea and letting the process lead the way. He works with a variety of mediums including acrylic, oil, collage, print and charcoal. His exhibits include the Apex Gallery in Rapid City (solo), Wyoming Governor’s Capital Art (Juror’s choice award, 2018), Clay Paper Scissors in Cheyenne, WY and the Blue Door Gallery in Cheyenne, WY.
Heidi’s style of photography has taken on many changes, but each change was for the better. It has been said, “Every new thing a person learns becomes an extension of him or herself.” For the last three years, she has been taking on a new approach to nature photographs by extracting parts of the whole to create an almost inner world from what she started with. To use Heidi’s own words, “One could call it almost abstract.” What you see is what you get with Heidi’s photography. She does not manipulate any of her images. All she does is what an art photographer would do in a darkroom. Rather than digitally doctor the image, she takes on a different perspective from when she first looked at the subject. This is a more challenging method, but, fortunately, Heidi loves a good challenge.
Bob Wilson has been fascinated with photography all his life, making images with everything from his sister’s old Brownie to the latest in digital cameras. In 2005, he formalized this interest by attending the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana. That year he also created Frogworks Photography as a vehicle to promote and market his art. His main areas of interest are landscape wildlife and fine art. Pre-covid, he traveled to and phtographed people and landscapes in Peru, Ireland, Uganda, South Africa and Morocco as well as around the American West.