The process of curation for shows at Ipso Gallery usually starts with an idea or a concept, if not an artist/s we’re really curious about. Then comes the process of determining if it will be a solo, two-person, three-person, or group show. We often think about how we can involve artists in different layers of the show (some good examples below) and how we can have the Ipso patrons participate in the larger concept of the show. Every show at Ipso Gallery is a celebration of an idea and everything that grows from it. It lifts up the process as much as the final result.
Ipso Gallery came about because of Fresh Produce’s love for art and creativity. There was no real strategy at the time for what it’d be or grow into. The team knew that they wanted a space to showcase creative ideas and be surrounded by art. Most Ipso exhibitions are inspired by people and concepts we love. Last August, the Fresh Produce team entered artworks (and cookies) to compete at the arts pavilion at the Sioux Empire Fair. We loved the idea of how art is embedded into something people don’t necessarily associate with “capital-A” Art. White Ribbon was a celebration of art-making, however it presents itself. So we made up a bunch of categories artists could enter works into, and every artist received a white ribbon for being a part of the show. But, of course, we also had a few special ribbons and a pie contest. White Ribbon was one of our most heavily themed shows, and it was all coordinated by our Famous interns–including the cotton candy and popcorn machines.
Memory, folk traditions, and our love for cake have manifested themselves in different ways at Ipso. The team at Fresh Produce and Ipso who’ve grown up in rural South Dakota have fond memories of attending county fair and church events that centered around eating a variety of cakes followed by a chance to take home a whole cake. We tried to think of a concept that would capture these memories and present it as an Ipso show. We loved the idea of capturing an art practice through baking. Baking is process-heavy and rooted in precision. It also embodies different textures and tastes, but somehow baking is as fluid of a practice as an artist’s. It took us a few years to land on the logistics of what became Cake Parade in November 2018. We paired up five bakers and five artists to meet up and share their passion for art and cake making. This resulted in five cakes to share with patrons on opening night, five original works of art inspired by the artist-baker pairing, and five cakes to take home.
Ka-Chunk was our most ambitious show to date. We wanted to highlight that the act of collecting art can start in a small way. During Ka-Chunk’s opening, we had nearly 350 original artworks share the Ipso floor for a one night only art vending event. We invited four regional artists to make their artistic interpretation of a vending machine that could house multiple 4×4″ artworks. No other stipulations. The smaller works were made by 30+ artists, with every artist contributing ten pieces each for the artist-made machines. Patrons were invited to take home their original artworks with the purchase of a $5 token. All works sold within 45 minutes of the opening.
Not too long ago, we added a fifth show to our annual line-up of exhibitions. Our annual Mystic October series might be the only one that’s themed, in that it recognizes bodies of work by an artist that invites us to explore its mystical, mysterious qualities a little deeper. These works often conjure feelings of interacting with the unfamiliar — in process, practice, medium, or subject matter. Our first two Mystic October shows presented photographs by Jim Groth (Bertha), and sculptural assemblages by John Banasiak (Realia).
For Ipso Gallery, the beauty in interacting with art is the opportunity, in equal measure, to see an artist’s process and practice, and the final artwork. This idea has led Ipso to curate a number of shows that dive into process. One of these was That’s Interesting, in the winter of 2016. The show opened during a season where people in the region seek hermitage in their homes, often times feeling a lull in “inspiration” or even the outside stimuli needed to make art. That’s Interesting brought together a dozen individuals and their collections of things that inspired them in different ways as writers, artists, musicians, collectors, archivists, and educators. It was an exercise in creative reverse engineering, visually articulating an artist’s early process and putting it on display.
[August Ipso Shows]
Ipso usually presents four to five shows every year. The ones in August are a little bit more special as we get to see the Fresh Produce summer interns concept, design, and write copy for all the promotional materials associated with Ipso. It becomes a celebration of the work they’ve done through the internship as well as an opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the culture of Fresh Produce and Ipso Gallery. Like most projects, the Famous crew comes up with the creative direction for art and copy for the August Ipso show, giving them room to decide on the plan for the opening reception, including food, interactive materials, other collateral, and merch. They also get a chance to work closely with local and regional artists, and get a peek at a different creative process than their own.
The act of collaboration is at the heart of a lot of Ipso shows. Merch Tent was an amalgamation of the team’s interests in the local music and art scenes at the time. This show brought together 10 artists and 10 musicians/bands to produce a limited run vinyl record called Sounds of the Colony. This project gave us a chance to be facilitators in creating a special vinyl as well as a series of ten custom screenprinted covers pulled by artists. We love the idea of sharing what we love and things we’re passionate about — something we believe leads to people having genuine, authentic experiences with Ipso.
Drawntown Sioux Falls
DrawnTown Sioux Falls was a monthly gathering of creative minds before it became the root idea for an Ipso show. It started with a few creatives with pencils in a park and grew to include all types of visual arts, audio production, and creative writing. Ipso hosted an exhibition of works created at eight DrTSF events for this 2010 show. The space was transformed into a sketchpad of thoughts, doodles, and sounds. The idea of creatives casually gathering and making work has now grown into events like AIGA South Dakota’s Drink & Draw.