Sioux Falls Arts Council Announces Recipients of the 2016 Mayor’s Awards for the Arts

Sioux Falls, SD – (April 8, 2016) The Sioux Falls Arts Council is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Mayor’s Awards for the Arts.

Individual Excellence in Visual Arts – Joan Swenson

Joan Swenson is the Admission/Marketing/Alliance Manager at Tallgrass Recovery, mom of 4 and is a professional artist and guest speaker.  Last year, Joan’s passion and her personal belief in the healing capacity of the arts inspired her to use her own talents as a professional artist to create an opportunity for Joe Foss students. The results were powerful! Not only did attendance improve for some, but students were able to express themselves creatively. One of her students says, “Joan has helped me realize how each of us has a different story, but art brings us together.”

Individual Excellence in Performing Arts – Delta David Gier

Delta David Gier has been the music director of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra since 2004. As a resident of Sioux Falls, he has been a dynamic voice for the cultural development of the performing arts in South Dakota. He has won awards for his work with the symphony here. His Lakota Project, combining musicians of the S.D. Symphony with Lakota native musicians, has drawn significant national recognition. His conducting with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago, St. Louis and Minneapolis orchestras, as well as orchestras in Europe, Asia and Central America, has shown a light on this talented Sioux Falls conductor. He also has served as chair of the Pulitzer Prize music jury.

Individual Excellence in Literary Arts – Chris Browne

Chris Browne, the son of award-winning cartoonist Dik Browne, assisted his father on the comic strips Hi and Lois and Hagar the Horrible. When Dik Browne retired in 1988, Chris continued to write and draw the Hagar strip, which appears in about 1900 newspapers around the world. It is in 56 countries and is translated into 12 languages. With his father, Chris co-authored Hagar the Horrible’s Very Nearly Complete Viking Handbook and on his own has recently written a children’s book The Monster Who Ate the State. Chris’s talent has entertained readers all over the world, and has shown a spotlight on Sioux Falls and South Dakota.

Organizational Achievement in the Arts – EastBank Art Gallery

EastBank Art Gallery was started in 2005 by 18 artists with a vision to offer an affordable, community oriented location where regional artists could come together and not only exhibit their work, but offer classes and build relationships with the community. Since its inception, EastBank has worked tirelessly to be home to a large number of regional artists, from well-known names such as Carl Grupp and Chris Browne to up-and-coming local artists. It supports the arts in Sioux Falls by offering artists a consistent place to display and sell their work, and by inviting an artist each month to display their work free of charge.

Charlotte Carver Award for Achievement in the Arts – Sheila Agee

Sheila Agee completed graduate school in 1979 with a MFA degree in Painting from the University of Oregon, Eugene. For seven years she was the assistant to the director of the South Dakota Museum of Art in Brookings before accepting responsibilities as director of the Civic Fine Arts Center in Sioux Falls in 1987, where she revised and established policies leading to the organization’s accreditation in the American Association of Museums. During her nine year tenure at the Art Center they renovated the Carnegie Building and built financial stability and public awareness of the arts. Its name was changed to the Visual Arts Center when, under her vision, the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science became a reality. In 1996 she returned to her lifelong love for painting. Images of her art work can be seen on her online gallery

“We were so pleased with the number of nominations this year,” says Sioux Falls Arts Council Board President Sandra Pay. “The response to the Mayor’s Awards is a reflection of the growing enthusiasm for the arts in Sioux Falls.”

The Mayor’s Awards for the Arts recipients will be honored on Thursday, April 28th at Raven Industries, 205 E. 6th Street, with a social hour and art tours starting at 5:30 pm and the awards presentation by Mayor Mike Huether at 6:30 pm. The event is free and open to the public.

The Mayor’s Awards for the Arts, started in 1999, is a significant means to honor those in the creative industry. The following original statement continues to be its vision: We believe the arts, heritage and culture make a real difference to the people of Sioux Falls, to our neighbors, and to our businesses. Arts and culture help individuals find and reach their potential and help the City achieve its community-building and economic development goals. Arts and heritage help build understanding and bridge differences among our increasingly diverse communities. A vibrant arts and culture helps attract visitors and encourages them to extend their stay. A creative community also attracts entrepreneurs and workers and helps retain our youth. This is the only event that brings all the art and culture groups together under one roof for an important event in art and culture hosted by the Mayor.

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