Over 3,000 people visited the tent in downtown Hill City hosting 22 artists from all over the Midwest and mountain region for the 2019 Sculpture in the Hills Show and Sale.
On Friday night the tent was packed with people checking out sculptures, visiting with the artists — and one another — and enjoying food as they celebrated the Hill City event.
It was the 12th year that Sculpture in the Hills Show and Sale had been put on by the Hill City Arts Council, and this year’s was a success, said Liz Jones, executive director of the Hill City Arts Council.
“It is the only show of its type in the area,” she said. “To find a sculpture show of this type, you would need to go to Colorado. There’s nothing of this sorts in West River.”
This year’s attendance was up by roughly 500 people over the previous year, Jones said, thanks in part to good weather.
Both the artists and the patrons who attend like the personal, intimate touch of the venue, she said.
For many artists, this is a vacation of sorts, Jones said. They come to Hill City for the show and then spend some extra days exploring the area.
“We also have a good mix of new artists and familiar artists,” Jones said.
There was a good mix this year of mediums, she said, which included the first-ever ceramic entrant.
There is a sales component of the event, too, Jones said, and while that total is not available yet, she knows it is up from last year.
“There were a number of sales,” she said. “It was very impressive. It is always good when business is brisk.”
The money raised by the show portion of the weekend helps fund the current year’s show as well as the next year’s show, Jones said.
On Friday the artists were on hand showing off their pieces to the judges. One artist doing so was Clark Martinek of Mitchell.
He was displaying his piece, “Messenger,” a miniature replica of his piece on display in Indiana that measures over 20 feet tall.
It is a model of an angel that represents communication between us all, hence the name.
“I was inspired to do this because I was getting messages on my phone when trying to come up with my next idea,” he said.
Across the tent were James and Michele Pridgeon of Sundance, Wyo. The couple makes items out of reclaimed cedar and ponderosa pine. James Pridgeon will carve the items and his wife, Michele will paint them.
The couple has been to many sculpture shows around the west, James Pridgeon said, including ones in Jackson Hole, Wyo. But Sculpture in the Hills is by far their favorite.
“There are real, genuine, honest people here,” the husband said. “We will come back every year so long as they continue to do this, and it just gets better each and every year.”
When it came time to announce the winners of the judge’s contest on Friday night, Rob Timm, president of the Hill City Arts Council, thanked everyone for coming out.
“A lot of folks have come here from a long ways and they work exceptionally hard,” Timm said. “Some of the stuff I have seen tonight I have never seen before, and it just incredible.”
There are a couple people, he said, that he wanted to thank, including Jones, the coordinator for the Hill City Arts Council and Randy Berger. These two, he said, helped make the event possible.
He then turned the microphone over to Berger.
“Welcome to the summer solstice,” Berger said. “The longest day was actually (Thursday), but summer is here. Let’s have a big round of applause for the last day of winter.”
Berger said he thanked the artists, as well, and he said he could see a lot of the new artists did great and returning artists “stepped it up.” It really makes him proud, he said.
The judges then announced the winners for the judge’s competition.
Coming in third place was “Table and Bowl,” carved by Raymond Huck. It was the second time that Huck has placed at the show.
The table and bowl were done a process called segmented turning. Both the table and bowl feature a diamond design around the edges of both works.
Second place winner was Lenore Lampi, who made life-like birch bark out of ceramics. It was her first time at the show.
“Thank you so much,” she said. “I am so honored. We love Hill City. My husband and I are just thrilled to be here. I have been to shows in Chicago and this beats everything.”
First place went to Wayne Salge. His work, lookout, was cast from bronze and was set to resemble a bird.
The thing he liked most about the piece, Salge said, is that it allows the observer to make what they want from it.
“We have a great crowd tonight,” he said. “We have been here since the beginning of the show, and this is the largest crowd we’ve seen.”
The People’s Choice awards were announced on Sunday.
In third place was Shawn Cline of Custer. She combines hard metal with painting style.
In second place was Travis Sorenson of Belle Fourche. Sorenson is a master in metal art.
In first place was the Pridgeons.
Next up for the Hill City Arts Council will be the Hill City Quilt Show and Sale, which will be Sept. 7-8.