March 29, 2015
By Anna Seaton Huntington
Arts Rapid City’s Sara Olivier burst into the office one day last summer on fire with a great idea: Paint a mural inspired by The Sculpture Project on that huge wall overlooking the project’s Badlands Garden along Main Street.
(This was not an unusual event. Sara catches fire with great ideas all the time. She is an artist of extraordinary talent. Sara is an accomplished dancer, choreographer, poet, photographer, former martial artist and probably has other creative gifts I don’t even know about.)
At first, no one knew which wall Sara was talking about. We went outside into Main Street Square and looked up.
Oh, THAT wall. That giant, two-story one above Botticelli’s that most of us have seen a thousand times and never noticed.
On Friday, Sara’s seed of an idea began to come to fruition when another exceptionally talented young Rapid City artist, Aaron Pearcy, began preparing the wall for a mural that will connect with The Sculpture Project through a depiction of a view of the Badlands.
There were many steps and much work between Sara’s idea and Aaron’s start on the wall last Friday, but there’s a noteworthy thread of connection: These two young, local artists are helping us see our community, our place, differently.
We’ll be able to watch Aaron’s 960-square-foot mural project unfold over the next three or four weeks, depending on weather. Until we see the finished work, we won’t know its impact, but you can count on beauty, creativity, and surprise, not to mention a fuller appreciation of Rapid City’s connection to the Badlands and a deeper understanding of The Sculpture Project.
Friday’s step in the artistic process wasn’t exactly glamorous. It was a windy March day, and Aaron had to get the hang of a 60-foot power lift while simultaneously handling the force of a power washer scrubbing years of grime, moss and pigeon poop off the north-facing wall so that paint can adhere better.
But the artist, 20, was undaunted and ready to return to begin priming and painting this week.
Aaron, whose tag is AMP, painted the firehouse mural on the patio wall of the Firehouse Brewing Company downtown. He has worked at the Civic Center, Douglas High School, Pine Ridge, and regularly works in downtown’s Art Alley.
Through About This Life, Inc., an organization Aaron helped found along with artist Derek “FOCUS” Smith and Sara Johnson Levy, Aaron has also worked on large-scale art projects with social messages in Boston and in France. (Read more about Aaron in an ArtsRapidCity.org Interesting Interview.)
Destination Rapid City commissioned Aaron to create the two-story mural for the Elks Theatre building. DRC is one of the funders behind The Sculpture Project, along with Rapid City’s John T. Vucurevich Foundation.
DRC was recently awarded a Bush Prize for Community Innovation by the Minneapolis-based Bush Foundation, and DRC’s CEO Dan Senftner said they used part of the Prize money to invest in the Elks mural as a way to bring more interest and vibrancy to downtown Rapid City while at the same time continuing to foster the community’s arts.
Dan said Destination Rapid City worked closely with Elks Theatre owner Curt Small to develop the project. After Aaron had researched Passage of Wind and Water and Yuki’s themes for the project, he worked with Dan and Curt to develop a design for the mural.
Curt said he has wanted a painting on the wall for a long time, “We’re excited to see the finished product and hope it adds to the rest of the art happening in downtown.”
The completed mural will greet Yuki when he returns to Rapid City for his third summer of work on Passage of Wind and Water in June and is one of many local, creative endeavors inspired by his work.
(Sara Olivier in Art Alley, photo by Jessica Miller, Arts Rapid City. Other photos by Sara Olivier, Arts Rapid City.)