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History of The Phillips Avenue Tossball Club

Original poster design from 2013.

When was The Phillips Avenue Tossball Club started?
Tossball started in 2013.

Why was it started?
We came up with the idea and thought it was cool, but we didn’t want people to think it was just another silly idea from FP so we told people that the original idea was inspired by something we saw in a big city. Wait, that’s how Kiosk Thursday started. The idea for Tossball happened while working on a rebranding project for the Sioux Falls Canaries. We all remembered playing lots of catch as kids and having a blast, but we don’t play catch together as adults. Which is a bummer because playing catch is one of the top things you can do. So we decided to start a club where people get together to play catch.

What’s the schedule like?
It’s the Great American Lunch Time. We get together every Wednesday noon at Falls Park West.

How many people were at the first opener?
20 people or so came to the opener. From week to week we get between 5 and 15 people. Everyone is welcome. Some gloves are provided.

How many times have you moved locations?
Our original field was on the South end of Falls Park West near the statue. Now, due to some construction projects, we’ve relocated to the North end of Falls Park West, between the two giant dirt piles.

Who is that man on the poster? Is he real? Is he the mascot?
That’s Spitball Burly Stimpson, legendary Tossballer out of Port William. He had a few good years playing semi-pro in the bare-hand league.

Do we have a team captain?
We’re all Captains of our own game of catch.

 

Art pilgrimage to New York City

Art (and art appreciation) is a big part of Fresh Produce and Ipso Gallery. It plays into a lot of what we do at the agency and inspires core ideas for our projects. Ipso Gallery at Fresh Produce serves the creative culture of the crew as we get to share works by artists we think are making really great work, as well as explore concepts of interest.

My family of three spent a week traveling between boroughs in New York City visiting some of our favorite art galleries. As a Writer / Public Relations at Fresh Produce, I help promote Ipso Gallery and publish a quarterly art zine, Sound + Color, with my husband.

Every couple of months, we try to do art pilgrimages to cities around Sioux Falls. But this April, we had the opportunity to head back to New York City for a week, after moving from there in 2016. This time we had a one-year-old in tow, so things were a little different, but we had a great time seeing some artists we love and visiting our favorite art galleries.

Here’s a few from our art pilgrimage to New York City:

1. The Hole
The Hole is a contemporary art gallery located in the SoHo area of Manhattan. It is one of the galleries we follow closely on Instagram. We’d been reading a lot about their show, Clay Today, and we were familiar with some of the artists in the group show. This was our first stop, before we headed to see the New Museum Triennial. Clay Today showcased a lot of young as well as well-known ceramic artists from around the world, including Francesca DiMattio, Joakim Ojanen and Diana Rojas.

2. New Museum
While we lived in New York, we made it a point to see the New Museum Triennial show. I consider it one of the best curated museum exhibitions and a great way to find out about artists from around the world. The 2018 Triennial, Songs of Sabotage, explored political, social and cultural systems. The art looked at these structures using very different mediums and some got pretty weird. Some works that stayed with me was a performance and sculpture piece, Co-Natural, by Romanian artist Alexandra Pirici. It featured choreographed dancers interacting with a hologram of the artist, based in Bucharest. Two odd-balls that I loved were Progressive Rocks by Nathaniel Mellors and a video piece by Hong Kong artist Wong Ping [very weird, but so good].

3. Pace Gallery
Did you know that David Hockney was still making new works? I didn’t. Something New in Painting (and Photography) [and even Printing] at Pace Gallery showcased just that, by Hockney. I’ve never seen a full Hockney show, so this was a pleasant surprise to walk into. The Chelsea area in Manhattan is a treasure trove of art with galleries sprinkled around a six-block radius.

4. Matthew Marks Gallery
For me, gallery-hopping is a great way to find out about new (and old) artists. This time at Matthew Marks Gallery, I finally saw works by Robert Gober. [See also: The Heart is not a Metaphor] The first thing we see is this model made of cardboard and duct tape. Bizarre, but I totally dug it. It was most probably 8x11x2 inches, but it stood out from the rest of the works on paper. I didn’t get it until we walked to the back of the gallery. It was a life-size version of that little cardboard sculpture we saw at the beginning. The artist had dug a hole and built this neat sculpture showing the entrance (lit from the inside) to a cellar from his childhood home.

I won’t get into the details of the others, but I just want to mention these three galleries because I saw some of my favorite artists there.

5. GRIMM
www.grimmgallery.com

Horizon Eyes, works by Letha Wilson at GRIMM.

6. Paula Cooper Gallery
www.paulacoopergallery.com

Bernd and Hilla Becher: In Dialogue with Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt at Paula Cooper Gallery.

7. 303 Gallery
www.303gallery.com

NEW ERA, works by Doug Aitken at 303 Gallery. [Image: 303 Gallery]

[I’m looking forward to sharing more from art pilgrimages around the Midwest. Next stop: Omaha or Kansas City. Email angela@pickfresh.com any recommendations you may have in those cities.]

All images by the author, unless stated otherwise.

What do you do when you get a month-long sabbatical from work?

A little over a year ago, Katrina Lehr-McKinney, Media Strategist / Operations at Fresh Produce, traveled across South Dakota during her month-long sabbatical. I sat down with Katrina to find out a little more about what she did while she was out of office.

Katrina spent two weeks facilitating discussions in different parts of the state, with various art communities. She was invited to fill this role by South Dakota Arts Council and Arts South Dakota to help in their strategic planning process.

Katrina Lehr-McKinney, Media Strategist / Operations at Fresh Produce

“It was a crazy four weeks because I traveled so much.
Over the two weeks of traveling, I put 2000 miles on my car. It was kind of nutty. I learned so much.” 

 
Angela: I’m so curious about how this project came about. Are you actively involved with these organizations?
Katrina: Over a decade of my life was spent in non-profit administration work. [Katrina previously worked with the Sioux Falls Jazz & Blues Society and South Dakotans for the Arts.] So, I’m still connected to a lot of these people and a lot of the things going on in the state. Jim Speirs, a former colleague, now the Executive Director of Arts South Dakota and Patrick Baker, Director of South Dakota Arts Council, are trying to refresh things that have been happening in the state for decades. So, when they asked me to be a part of this process, I jumped in.
 
A: That sounds like a pretty big undertaking. What was the end goal of the project?
K: I think especially as a state agency, it’s super hard to take a step back and attempt to refresh things. But one thing they wanted to do was to go around [the state] and have these facilitated discussions in all of these communities to see what is it that the arts council and Arts South Dakota can do for these communities, artists, organizations, schools and everything else.They’d done some regional meetings in the past but they hadn’t gone to a lot of these communities. For example, they felt it was very important to go to Eagle Butte and have a discussion because the state’s arts council was writing its strategic plan. They wanted to take objectives out of this content that they heard. They wanted to prioritize the content in such a way that they could create a strategic plan out of it.
 
A: How did you prep for this role? Was this something you’ve done before?
K: I was there to run the meetings, make sure there was no weird politics going on and that everyone’s voice was heard. Every community was almost a completely different conversation. So we have this saying at Fresh Produce, right? “Come on in, and make yourself uncomfortable”. Oh, this was really uncomfortable for me! I had run meetings before with work and our neighborhood association, etc. And I’ve been in situations kind of like this before, but not on this level. I really took it seriously and I met with a friend of mine who is a professional facilitator. He does this World Café facilitation process and so I learned more about that process from him. I thought a lot about how I could employ it to make sure everybody was heard and all perspectives were brought to the open. It was like homework for me — learning this process, going in and being really vulnerable but taking ownership of these meetings.
 
A: You mentioned “Come on in, and make yourself uncomfortable”. Were there any experiences during the facilitation that kind of threw you off?
K: It was a great experience and I would definitely do it again. There were some really great conversations and there were some really awkward conversations. And the most awkward thing was when we were in Eagle Butte which is on the Cheyenne River Reservation. What happened in Eagle Butte is that it was a room full of teenagers. I think there was a kind of misunderstanding as far as who they thought were supposed to be at this meeting. They were in this scenario where they were like, “Why are you asking us these questions?” I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t realize what it was going to be because that was my second day. I was asking them questions like, “Do you guys feel like you have enough art in your schools?” But they still wouldn’t answer my questions. So then finally, the Executive Director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project came up and ran the meeting for me. So, that was the most uncomfortable. It was just like pulling teeth.
 
 
 
A: I can’t imagine what that would have been like, for you and for them. Other than Eagle Butte, what was your most significant takeaway from this facilitation process for the arts in South Dakota?
K: The next day we went to Red Cloud, which is in the Pine Ridge Reservation. I was really nervous going into that because of the previous day. We only had three or four people show up, which was our smallest group by a long shot. But, we had this awesome conversation where they opened up. We talked about why more Native American artists don’t apply for grants with the state, about the distrust and things like, “I don’t want to fill out an application in the way you present it. It doesn’t make sense to the way that I do my art. My art is my life. This is not a project.” I mean it was just like, “Holy shit, I had no idea!” It was eye-opening for everyone that was in that meeting.
 
A: That’s amazing and such a special experience. What else did you do during your sabbatical? Did you get time to do any of the house projects you had planned?
K: So, I drove West across the state, went to two different reservations and then the next week I went to Leadership South Dakota, back in Pine Ridge. It was really great to be back there again from that Leadership South Dakota perspective and then ask questions like, “What is the culture and the art have to do with these things?”, because it is so holistic for a lot of people out there. So, that was kind of fun. And yes, I got a few house projects done too! We painted Oliver’s room and had a big yard sale.
 
 
 
The Fresh Produce Sabbatical

In order to make interesting work, you have to live an interesting life. That’s why Fresh Produce introduced a sabbatical program last year. Team members take 2-8 (depending on length of employment) consecutive weeks of paid time to work on a personal, creative, or community-focused project. In 2017, Katrina used her sabbatical to facilitate workshops for artists across South Dakota. In 2018, Kyle used his sabbatical to live in Barcelona for a month. Later this year, Brian will shoot a feature-length film.