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Living Unsettled in Barcelona

Last April, I took a card right from our deck of Mystic Truths and decided to make myself uncomfortable. Forced to serve a mandatory creative sabbatical away from the same unobstructed view of 6th and Main I’ve enjoyed since May 2011, I packed my bags for an overseas adventure to meet 20 strangers in Barcelona, Spain.

My goals were to disrupt my routine, immerse myself in an unfamiliar culture, and learn from every person and opportunity that crossed my path. To aid my pursuits, I structured my month through Unsettled, a new community of world travelers who organize experiential retreats for “those who embrace uncertainty and value meaningful human connection.”

 

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Week One: Fear is excitement without breath. #beunsettledbarcelonaapril

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Culture
As Americans, we absorb a fair amount of Spanish in our daily lives. Enough to fill me with the necessary confidence to spend a month in Spain. Unfortunately, no sooner than I booked my ticket did I realize that Catalan, not Spanish, is the official language of Barcelona. For context, Catalan actually has more in common with Italian and Portuguese than it does with Spanish. Alas, the language barrier didn’t inhibit my experience. In fact, spending an entire month in blissful ignorance of nearby inane conversations was practically therapeutic.

While I observed the casual, family-and-friends-first lifestyle enjoyed by most Barcelonans, my cultural experiences expanded every moment I spent with the Unsettled crew. In all, we represented four continents and over a dozen countries. I learned the value of liming in Trinidad and Tobago, laughing in India, and that lame in Saudi Arabia is pronounced “egg.”

More than anything, I’ll remember good it felt to share a meal with people you care about, a value observed at least five times a day by most Barcelonans. From desayuno (breakfast) to la cena (dinner), which typically doesn’t start until after 8:00 PM, we gathered around everything from tapas and paella to vermouth and local wine.

 

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Week Two: Daughter of Swords

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Structured Learning
In between meals, we managed to find time for learning. Early in our retreat, we took inventory of everyone’s expertise and interests in order to generate a community calendar. Our month was filled with workshops, panel discussions, and excursions designed by Unsettled employees and members of our retreat. Topics ranged from leadership and meditation to filmmaking and finding purpose.

Among the most unique, was exploring the Japanese concept of ikigai, which is your reason for being. In Okinawa, finding your ikigai means discovering your passion and purpose. It’s what one lives for. It’s talked about as openly as one might discuss their favorite baseball team or why they prefer tater tots over French fries. To find your ikigai, you explore the intersection of what you’re good at, what you can be paid for, what the world needs, and what you love. The exercise was a refreshing opportunity to find balance in what makes you uniquely you.

Experiences
From climbing the steps of the Girona Cathedral (known to Game of Thrones fans as the Sept of Baelor) to buying a bell pepper at the grocery store, every moment in a new culture is an adventure. For those of us who could completely unplug from work, we chose to fill our time with new excursions at every turn.

 

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Week Three: Ikigai #beunsettledbarcelonaapril

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We learned to use tarot as a method of reflection. We immersed ourselves in local traffic laws by biking the streets of Barcelona. We engaged all of our senses during an art and dining t0ur that turned famed local works of art into a delectable four-course meal. What made each of these experiences special was sharing them with people who were also there for the first time. If you chose to go it alone, at the very least, you’d gather for a meal later in the day to share your highlights with others.

Self-Reflection
Preserving all of these memories was perhaps the biggest challenge of the entire month. Of course, we all travel with cameras in our pockets, but our phones also create a potential barrier to the world around us. To limit distractions, I deleted all social media apps from my phone, with the exception of Instagram (you know, to keep up with my travel companions). Even then, I limited myself to one post a week in which I had to choose ten photos that represented my experience. The result was as liberating as it sounds: I walked with my head up, people-watched for sport, and carried a notebook everywhere I went.

My photos and notes served as tools when I carved out time each day to write all of my thoughts and experiences in a journal. These daily doses of reflection provided presence and gratefulness for the day’s events. I’ve even semi-successfully carried the practice back home in a more abbreviated form through the Five Minute Journal. By choosing to disrupt my routine for a month, I invited new habits that have since positively impacted my personal and professional lives. At the very least, I have a few new magnets to stare at when I lift my gaze from 6th and Main.

 

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Week Four: Weather is really neat.

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Read more about the Fresh Produce Sabbatical:

“Brewing Independence is here!”

Brewing Independence, a coffee cart program for fourth and fifth graders at Susan B. Anthony Elementary in Sioux Falls officially started last fall, under the guidance of Katie Rick. Max, Tenley and Jordan from our Famous 2018 summer internship program were tasked with branding for Brewing Independence. We followed up with Katie about the program last month since its official launch in September, 2018.

Katie sat across from me at a local downtown coffee shop. We’d emailed a week before and decided we’d connect on Thursday, December 27. She offered to come down to the Fresh Produce office to meet me. It’s 9:00 a.m. after a long Christmas weekend, Katie was smiling wide as she shared the progress of Brewing Independence.

After researching various programs for her class over a couple of months, Katie found how impactful coffee cart programs have been at schools across the country. As a Special Ed teacher, she’s noticed that doing everyday activities that promote communication and coordination have helped her students. To start the coffee cart program, the school needed $500 in donations to buy a coffee machine and other supplies. Katie posted a fundraiser on Donor’s Choose, after the program was approved by the principal. “We didn’t think we’d reach our goal in 36 hours. It was amazing to see that people were excited by the idea,” she said.

Brewing Independence at Susan B. Anthony Elementary has fourth and fifth graders participating in a “coffee shop” environment where they take and fulfill coffee orders from teachers in the school. Every Friday, Ms. Katie’s class receives close to 30 orders. The children go through their assigned stations to make coffee using a Keurig machine according to the order slips.

“The kids are so pumped when Friday comes around. I’ve seen several of them sort of break out of their shell and become social in an environment they’d shy away from. All our teachers love it, too,” said Katie Rick, Special Ed Teacher at Susan B. Anthony Elementary in Sioux Falls, SD.

While keeping the task fairly simple, children are challenged to follow the right steps in order. They’re guided by color-coded stations and cues to fulfill the orders, which they place into a tray-cart specially made for Brewing Independence.

Fresh Produce had the privilege of helping with the branding and collateral of this brilliant coffee cart program, the first of its kind in the Sioux Falls school district. By incorporating a drawing of a coffee cup by one of Katie’s students, our intern team was able to come up with a logo for the program. They now use the logo on their coffee cart, cups, T-shirts, and aprons.

Katie said that Brewing Independence has other schools excited as well — Terry Redlin Elementary will be starting the program in two classrooms at the end of the month.

2018 Recap: Ipso Gallery at Fresh Produce

Ipso Gallery at Fresh Produce is a really special space for all of us. We opened the doors to Ipso Gallery in 2009, after we moved our offices from Brandon to downtown Sioux Falls. As a creative agency, we like to explore concepts and ideas outside of client work, and Ipso has given us a lot of room to do that. Ipso Gallery has Liz Heeren at the helm as Gallery Director/Curator, and the Fresh Produce crew assist in concept, design, production, and promotion. It’s a great, thrilling team effort that allows us to throw a big party five times a year. 2018 was a pretty standout year for us — we raised over $10,000 for a local arts entity during our art lottery-fundraiser show, invited two very talented Wisconsin-based artists to our space, exhibited an all three-dimensional sculpture show by three really good friends, hosted Mystic October Series No. 2 with John Banasiak, and ended the year with a bang with Cake Parade.

“The effort is always to bring something new and interesting to Sioux Falls where people can come experience art in its various forms.”

Before we announce our 2019 run of shows, let’s look at the year (accompanied by words from our conversation with Liz and promo art by Fresh Produce).

LUCKY NUMBER 2018

Lucky Number is something we’ve done repeatedly. It is an effort that brings a lot of people together where we raise money for a particular arts entity. This year we were raising funds for BronzeAge Art Casting, which is also fondly known as The Foundry in Sioux Falls. When we put these shows together, it involves generosity on a lot of people’s parts. A sponsor comes in at $1,000 to sponsor the show and to help raise money for the organization, but artists also donate $1,000 worth of art. The sponsorship is split in half. Half of it goes to the artist, and then half goes to the arts organization that we’re raising money. This year we were able to get a total of 19 artists involved, which was 19 total sponsorships, but 27 individuals and businesses came together to support The Foundry this year. We raised over $10,000 for The Foundry, which is a big deal. The Foundry is an important asset in our community as we continue to grow SculptureWalk, the but only thing of its kind in South Dakota really for sculptors who want to do any type of foundry work.

ZIG ZAG

Our goal is always to touch base with, reach out to maintain ties with South Dakotans. When they are here, go to school here, grew up here, they had a period of time in this common place that we all celebrate. We try to keep track of them as they leave our state and may go other places. Many of our artists are local, but some of them end up in Wisconsin, for example. Andres Torres did and he brought in Chris Bostwick with him (his friend and artist from Madison, WI). We decided to couple those two together, to take our South Dakota connection and allow him to inform us of another complementary artist that would be otherwise a little bit out of our reach.

GLYPH

Glyph was a natural addition to what we were doing in 2018. We knew we wanted to raise money for The Foundry, and we wanted to showcase art as well that was being made through them. We happened to be connected to three artists who are utilizing The Foundry often — Sarah Cherrington, David Lethcoe, and Cameron Stalheim. It turns out all three of them went to USD. All three of them are buddies. All three of them trying to make a living as artists in Sioux Falls. The connection was even tighter really than I think we anticipated. What ended up happening when we look at the show is we see their connections, the aesthetic connections, or the educational connections that have maybe led them to where they are now. We also see separation, deviations from one another, going in ways that are highly cerebral, very refined, humorous at times, each of them taking their own path through these common techniques, common media. [Promo art designed by Famous 2018, our summer internship program. Read more here.]

MYSTIC OCTOBER SERIES NO. 2: REALIA

John Banasiak is kind of legendary. He’s unique to our state in that he’s an artist who’s been here for 30 plus years, working hard, doing great work, and exhibiting internationally. Sometimes I think he’s under the radar a little bit because he’s situated down in Vermillion. But, certainly anybody who has gone through USD or who is a practicing artist in South Dakota knows of John Banasiak and connects him almost solely to photography. He teaches photography at USD. I was able to find out through Cory Knedler, the department head at USD, that John was working on a body of art that was three-dimensional. I was immediately feverishly trying to contact John because I really wanted to feature that kind of work in the gallery, something very different that he’s doing, a departure from his previous practices. Luckily, he was completely game. Nobody is more prolific than John Banasiak. He brought in 25 assemblages, and they were meticulous, cryptic, and symbolic, and highly mystical, perfect for a Mystic October show. Every woven component of each sculpture had parts relating to other parts and very precise, thoughtful placement that spelled out, again, cryptic narratives. I think that’s why people responded so much to these pieces.

CAKE PARADE

Cake Parade was this conglomeration of thought and brewing in the brain that happened over about 10 years where we thought, “Well, how do we bring art and cake together? There’s got to be a formula.” There were ideas like throwing cake off of buildings and having it performance art style. There were tons of reasons why that didn’t happen. Eventually Cake Parade came out of this want to connect the public to an experience that wasn’t just visual, that took them, transported them through memory and association, and through another whole different set of senses, which is taste, smell, to create this coalescing effect of the visual, the tactile, the taste, the scent to become a complete artistic experience.

“There were ideas like throwing cake off of buildings and having it performance art style. There were tons of reasons why that didn’t happen.”

We did it by pairing an individual artist and an individual baker, five sets of those, so five artists, five bakers total, and asked them to meet one another, discuss their interests with one another. After that meeting, which was probably brief, each of them had to create a work of art that was inspired by the other. Obviously, there were a lot of unknowns about this. We didn’t know what the product would be. It takes an unusual departure from artists normal way of workings. We didn’t know exactly what visual products were going to come out of this, nor did we have any clue how a baker would interpret an artist’s work and then fuse that with their culinary experiences.

What’s great about Cake Parade is that everybody loves cake, people really love to look at art, and we’re bringing these two things together in a way that we knew would attract the community. We knew people would want to come to this, and they did. We had a lot of people, 262 tickets. That’s 262 individual slices of cake, plus more, people came back for seconds, given away at Cake Parade. A lot of the things about this show that we were trying to touch on elevated the cake as an art form, as it would be considered as a sculpture or as a whole artistic experience. I think having it in the gallery alongside visual art actually accomplished that on a lot of levels.

 

Follow Ipso Gallery at Fresh Produce on Facebook and Instagram for details of our next show.

The Cool Guy Sabbatical

In order to make interesting work, you have to live an interesting life. That’s why Fresh Produce introduced a sabbatical program in 2017. Team members take 2-8 (depending on the length of their employment) consecutive weeks of mandatory, paid time to work on a personal, creative, or community-focused project. In 2017, Katrina Lehr-McKinney used her sabbatical to facilitate workshops for artists across South Dakota. This year, Kyle Jameson used his sabbatical to live in Barcelona for a month, while Brian Bieber filmed a feature-length documentary. Brian shared some of his notes from months of interviews, collecting old footage, and travels across the country.

The Project
Earlier this year I started working on a feature-length documentary about the kids who made the Sioux Falls punk scene, and how the Sioux Falls punk scene made them into adults.

Many of the people I’ve interviewed for the project live in different parts of the country, so I used my sabbatical to do the bulk of necessary traveling. I also spent a lot of time logging footage and—because sometimes I forgot to white balance correctly—learning how color grading works.

Foods eaten
I ate all kinds of great vegan food in Seattle, especially at my friend Yuki’s restaurants, Café Pettirosso and Bang Bang Café. Otherwise, I just tried to avoid gas station food and drive-thrus, and ate an Impossible burger whenever I could find one on a menu.

Playlist
A person stuck in cars and planes for a month can only spend so much time catching up on podcasts before they start craving loud abrasive guitar music, so I spent a lot of my sabbatical listening to the music I’ve been listening to since I was 15, plus some newer stuff that I would definitely also be listening to if I was 15 today.

Kiosk Thursday Gift Guide to Giving

If you’ve read F.P. SHOCKER: “WE MADE UP KIOSK THURSDAY” over on Big News Bear, it may shock you to know that Kiosk Thursday still exists. Kiosk Thursday is alive and well, and partly thriving in the online world. It even has its own Instagram page to prove how okay it’s doing. [Trust the Fresh Produce Weblog to bring you real updates.]

In the spirit of giving, we give you our Staff Picks from Kiosk Thursday. And, to build on that spirit of giving, all orders will include one holiday postcard from an exclusive limited run for Kiosk Thursday Gift Guide to Giving (pictured above). Here are some Smalls for your gift-giving consideration—

Match book featuring artwork by Peter Reichardt.
We designed these special match books in conjunction to the Ipso show, Hi, Hello: Some Work by Peter Reichardt. The vendor would only take a minimum order of 500 boxes, so we went for it!
Good for lighting your holiday candles, starting a fire, lighting up your life.

Who doesn’t like fire.” — Kristi Dorn, ★★★★★

Dependability and Timeliness Zine.
For over ten years, the Fresh Produce crew has been producing radio ads for Perkins Storage and Transfer, based in Brookings. Mike and Ted pitched a sixty-second spot when they first met the good people at Perkins in 2004. Since then, we’ve scripted and produced a radio ad for them every month. We made this zine—a collection of our favorite Perkins radio spots—to celebrate our client and the unique relationship we’ve shared.
Great for someone who has a good sense of humor.

The guy who stars in those ads, Mr. Bruce Thunderman, is an acquaintance of mine.” —Mike Hart, ★★★★★

Fresh Produce Wallet Photo.
We have Picture Day at Fresh Produce every October, and we sell these photos at a very arbitrary price.
Good in case someone at Fresh Produce owes you money. Also, great for someone who has a good sense of humor.

Mike wasn’t present for photos this year, so it’s a vintage 2017 edition. I predict value will skyrocket. I bet he’d even write a quote and sign it for a loved one! #sellwithhart” —Erin Murtha, ★★★★★

Mystery Tee.
We’re really saving you the headache of choosing a T-shirt with our Mystery Tee. You say, “Yes, I’ll take one”, and we’ll say, “Yes, we’ll give you one.”
Good for making the least amount of effort in your effort of gift giving.

Surprises aren’t just for gender reveal parties and series finales.” —Kyle Jameson, ★★★★★

Magnetic Pennant.
A little flim flam, but also sort of revolutionary.
Good [read review below]

Even though it says it is made of felt, it really feels like wool. And wool is so much warmer than felt.“—Cami Lovely, ★★★★★

Other Smalls we just love, all available on Kiosk Thursday:
Limited Edition—Mt. Skullmore Weave Patch
Pre-Order—The Official Fresh Produce Book Club Punch Reader
Keep Sioux Falls Boring Bundle—Pen + Keychain