Artists gather in Hill City

By Jeff Smith

Jeff Schaezle, of Billings, Mont., deomonstrates hammer and chisel techniques on a slab of stone on June 25. People young and old gathered around to watch his demonstration.

Many people went through the big white tent in Hill City June 24-25 for the 10th annual Sculpture in the Hills.

Stuart Hurd from Priest River, Idaho, received the People’s Choice award. Everyone who strolled through the tent had a chance to vote for their favorite artist.

“It’s a real honor to receive it, especially under the circumstances where there is such a high caliber of work here,” Hurd said.

This was Hurd’s fourth year at Sculpture in the Hills, but he has been working as a sculptor for 41 years.

Hurd attends 12-15 art shows a year. He said what separates Sculpture in the Hills from other shows is that it’s a sculpture show, so he is not in competition with people who have arts and crafts.

“This is more higher-end, excellent work and it’s juried,” Hurd said.

He brings different pieces to each show and tailor makes work for each area he visits.

“We do pheasants, buffalo, horses, things that relate more to the area here,” Hurd said.

Martin Hallock, who won second place for People’s Choice, was really impressed by the quality of art at the show. He was new to the event this year.

“I knew my stuff was different but I didn’t know if that was good or bad,” Hallock said. “I’m surprised, humbled — very, very humbled. There are some amazing artists here.”

Hallock knew it was a pretty prestigious show before he came.

He said he collects odd things and tries to see if they could be used for a new use. One of his sculptures at the show, a phoenix, had a tennis racket used for wings and a chair leg for the neck and head.

Hallock lives by the Missouri River in Fort Pierre and his pieces focus on a lot of wildlife.

He has been sculpting for three years.

“It’s pretty unique stuff, no one is doing anything like it,” Hallock said.

Hallock said as an artist there is a question if what is being made is good.

“It’s risky to do art,” Hallock said, “ the kindness that everybody showed and the support meant a lot.”

He said it is sometimes hard to support three children as an artist.

“It’s working, though,” Hallock said.

Many had the chance to listen to Sturgis artist Dale Lamphere as he shared the story of “Dignity” on the night of June 24 at Warrior’s Work & Ben West Gallery. He shared the process of the design and everything that went into making the 50-foot-tall statue.

“I’ve been sculpting for 47 years and I’ve never had a piece capture the public’s imagination like ‘Dignity’ has,” Lamphere said, “I’m very pleased to see it accepted in that way.”

He was very pleased to see such a nice crowd at Warrior’s Work. He said he has given his talk on “Dignity” about eight times.

He told the people at the presentation that there are some great programs at Hill City and the community should do what they have been doing to celebrate art in the community.

Lamphere also judged the Best of Show competition with  Rapid City artist James Van Nuys. It was his second time judging Sculpture in the Hills.

“It took the full two and a half hours to make our decision. There was such an excellent quality to so many of the works,” Lamphere said.

He said the quality of work in the show is going up all the time. Lamphere knew of one gentleman that was interviewed by the Smithsonian Institute to do a bird-related piece. He said that was a good example of the level of talent present at the event.

Cathy Rost, president of the Hill City Arts Council, said it was a very important year as it was the 10th year for the event.

She said it’s a “huge success” to hold an art show for 10 years and would be for any non-profit organization.

Rost said she is proud of the board members with HCAC and previous board members for what the show has been made into.

“A small group of ambitious people put it together,” Rost said.

Money is raised throughout the year by the Hill City Arts Council so that it could be held. It takes about $10,000 to set up a tent and use it for four days.

Artists also pay a fee to have a booth at Sculpture in the Hills. There were 22 artists this year at the event. Rost said just about every artist sold a piece of their work this year.

Ron Walker, one of the members of the Board of Directors, is in charge of the committee who invites the artists to the show and sale.

“Many come back year after year. About a third of the artists are new every year,” Rost said. “We help artists who haven’t been here by giving them a new format to increase their customer base.”

Best of Show Winners

First- Wayne Salge

Second- Jared and Nicole Davis

Third- Anna Achtziger

People’s Choice Winners

First- Stuart Hurd

Second- Martin Hallock

Third- Travis Sorenson