To understand Prairie Star Gallery better, it's helpful to know more about the city in which we're located. The mural above, by James Starkey, might be a good place to start. James painted it in the main hallway of Killian Community College. Founder Tom Killian is at top right.
The mural, drawn in seven panels to suggest the historical Indigenous Seven Councils, depicts the substance and spirit of Sioux Falls. Beginning at top left, the buffalo hide painting recalls the land we call Dakota as it was 200 or 500 years ago, before the mapping expedition by Lewis and Clark. The Plains were alive with buffalo; warriors protected their land and occasionally encroached upon that of their rivals. The mobile tipi allowed the bands or tribes (some comprised of as many as 10,000 people) to move place to place on the vast northern plains, as necessary to accommodate the changing seasons and varying sources of food. The Lakota are the namesake of the Falls of the Sioux River, shown spilling over the quartzite, or jasper, rocks that served as the basic construction materials for much of original Sioux Falls. Around the turn of the century, thousands of tons of jasper were transported by rail to Chicago and other growing cities across the upper Midwest, to make the first hard-surfaced city streets.
The original "Old" Courthouse, top mid-left, was constructed a century ago from the quartzite quarried from several places around town, notably East Sioux Falls (see "City" tab, above). In 1889, the citizenry easily could see the Courthouse's clock tower from anywhere in town. Today, the old Courthouse is a fascinating museum. The new Court House isn't nearly as interesting, nor beautiful.
Below the Court House, James depicts a stylized version of Michelangelo's David, which is one of two copies in the U.S. that were created from the original. It can be seen at Fawick Park. Like any other city in the country, Sioux Falls is populated with citizenry who range from prude to sophisticate, so the city fathers "positioned" David so modest folks weren't offended.
The center panel illustrates the people that make Sioux Falls the mini-cosmopolitan city we have become. We're a diverse bunch, with 31 languages spoken, publicly or privately. Indigenous people make up approximately 7% of the city's population. There is palpable discrimination, unfortunately, but we believe folks are becoming somewhat more educated. The city's Festival of Cultures is evidence that diversity is being celebrated more than it is being lamented. Still, perhaps once a week, someone will step inside our gallery only to gasp "It's an Indian Gallery", and bolt out the door before we can allay their fears. We try to give folks a visual clue as to what to expect before they come in. James Starkey created our storefront sign, that being a hubcap from a 1950 Lincoln Continental, painted in medicine-wheel colors, adorned with four feathers, suspended from the root of a cedar tree. Surely you wouldn't expect to find Hummel figurines inside such an establishment, would you? Photo below was taken during the Holiday Festival of Lights parade downtown, one of many street celebrations Sioux Falls folks love to hold.
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