Art galley in Rapid City gives reservation artists a place to sell their work

(Scarlett Lisjak)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 7:14 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -The art scene in Rapid City continues to expand as more galleries pop up throughout town. Two artists from the Pine Ridge reservation opened a gallery in June aimed to give indigenous artists the opportunity to sell their work off the reservation.

Tusweca is Lakota for dragonfly, and the word chosen to represent a new art gallery in town, “it kind of derives from the transformation that our people see when they are leaving the reservation, to the city,” Joe Pulliam is the co-owner of Tusweca Gallery, he says he’s undergone a transformation of his own.

“After 20 plus years of doing art freelance on the reservation, I’ve always dreamt of owning my own gallery, and part of that dream was helping my fellow artists. I am fortunate to be able to survive addiction, to survive life on the reservation,” Pulliam said.

The isolated location of the Pine Ridge reservation limits the economic opportunity for artists, “there is a four-billion dollar a year tourism industry here in South Dakota and the reservations are excluded from that, when probably I would say 40% of tourists come to see the Indians and come to see Native culture so, it’s about time we are afforded a piece of that pie and a seat at the table,” Pulliam said.

Billy J. Janis is also part owner, he hopes this gallery will bring more awareness to indigenous artists and their work, “I can see something bigger, like a unification in a way, so if I can create something that beautiful and I present it to outside Native Americans then I believe it will touch their heart.”

Tusweca will be holding a “Best of the Reservation” competition for artists of all different tribal affiliations October 1st. Spectators will have the chance to vote for their favorite works of art.

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