Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

Pavilion’s new VAC Director to host meet and greets


The new Visual Arts Center director, Kara Dirkson wants your feedback;

Kara would like to get to know you, local artists and art ‘appreciators’. She is hosting a ‘meet-and-greet’ session open to the public on Tuesdays from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Visual Arts Center’s Gallery A. She would love the community’s input to help make the VAC the best it can be.

I hope they won’t be charging an admission to speak with the director  . . . and be careful what you say, management is probably requiring her to wear a wire :)

Pavilion encourages single people to get friends


Maybe you can get a friendship bracelet with your membership.

When I first found out the Pavilion wasn’t offering individual memberships anymore, I felt it was discrimination, but some wise person in the marketing department that formed a focus group decided to eliminate them. My first thought was because maybe there wasn’t a lot of individual memberships, not the case at all;

He said single memberships accounted for about 10 percent of the Pavilion’s 3,300 memberships.

Which, if you like to do simple math comes to 330 memberships or $13,200 in revenue. Something I would hardly bat an eye at. I’m sure most of these memberships were purchased by single elderly people.

I was glad to see this though;

The change doesn’t apply to season ticket sales. People still can buy a season ticket for one.

So if it doesn’t change buying an individual ticket for shows, why change the membership to dual memberships only? Because like charging admission to the VAC, the Pavilion is seeing dollar signs by squeezing an extra $20 out of those single people and disguising it as encouraging them to bring friends.

The city council and mayor really need to end the contract with the WP Management and hire a new company, that #1 is interested in making money #2 Customer service and most of all #3 transparency and equality.

They have had 14 years to get their poop in a group, and all we see is one dumb idea after another. A publicly subsidized arts center that charges to see poorly hung art and now discriminates against single people.


Washington Pavilion memberships discriminate against single people

A South DaCola foot soldier told me that when they went to renew their individual membership they learned that they no longer offer an individual membership.  They have to purchase a “dual membership” or two memberships.  Apparently they no longer welcome “singles”.

This is discriminatory for the following reasons:

This person is a single individual.

This person often enjoy going to events as a single person.

They do not need to be part of a “couple”

This “new membership policy” is discriminatory against single persons.

This policy could be a form of  “financial elder abuse” by forcing seniors, widows and widowers to purchase two membership where only one is needed.

It is also discriminatory against students and young persons who may not be able to afford two memberships.

The Washington Pavilion already has a reputation of being elitist and now they don’t want singles?  Does this enhance their reputation as an inclusive facility?

I also find it strange that a dual membership costs $60 ($30 each) but a pals (5 people) membership costs $100 ($20 each). So why not just charge $30-40 for an individual membership? Why eliminate it?

I have often felt that this city is very anti-single people, young and old, I just never seen such blatant discrimination from a publicly funded facility. But no surprise from a money pit that continues to do the wrong thing most of the time.

Is the Pavilion coming around? Maybe.

I suppose I could talk about the (non) press conference about the buckling siding at the EC, but there was so much Beautiful Sunshine going on there, I think they had a couple of skid loaders waiting afterwards.

The BIG story of the day is the announcement of a new Visual Arts Center director at the Pavilion;

Kara Dirkson will become the new director of the Visual Arts Center at the Washington Pavilion beginning Sept. 29.

I have to tell you I was delighted to hear this. Kara is well worth her weight in gold when it comes to art, in other words, she knows her stuff. While Kara and I ‘Don’t Hang’ we have many mutual friends, and I am well aware of her talents. I just hope they let her ‘Do her Job’ of advancing visual arts in our community, that is all I have ever expected of the VAC.

Good Luck Kara! And I have an open invitation for an interview to tell readers what your future plans are for the VAC.

Flashback Saturday; March 2007

This was a post I did on my old site 25dp.com, somethings never change at the Pavilion


‘The Day Ray Johnson Died’

Shadow Box – 12 x 12 x 3″



Every year for the past 5 years I have donated a piece to the Washington Pavilion VAC Arts Night (A fundraiser for the Visual Arts Center). As you all know, I’m not a big fan of the Washington Pavilion or art ORGS in general. Although I believed in supporting the Visual Art Center because it’s the ONLY FREE amenity in the publicly funded facility, and Howard is pretty cool (Howard is the curator, he actually wrote my intro on my webpage and he told my best collector, Clyde, that I was the only TRUE artist in Sioux Falls, because I’m vocal about the arts in Sioux Falls). Arts Night is kind of fun too, you get to see all these rich hob-knobbers slobber all over each other. They usually overdress for the event and underpay for the art. I have been very vocal the past couple of years about minimum bids, etc. Of course the Pavilion feels it is about the quality of the work, that is why the art doesn’t bring enough. Never mind that they don’t use a real art auctioneer, or that they overcharge for the ticket (Approximately $80 per person for just the meal and a seat at a table). The meals are usually cold and the meat is usually dry. Last year the PAV decided to start JURYING the art, too get better quality – so to speak. I think this is unwise for a couple of reasons:

1) They should accept every single piece donated, isn’t this a fund-raiser?

2) Don’t invite artists that do poor quality work.

Last year after a couple of long time artist contributors were rejected, I brought up these two things. Of course things did not change. They wanted to have a meeting with me about my concerns. I said a meeting was unnecessary, because I told them what I thought and they need to fix the problem internally. Like I said, after a few months I never heard anything, so I sent them a NY Times article about artist donations, and how some ORGS give back to the artists. I still never heard anything, and I am assuming that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

My donation was rejected this year with 34 other artists. In the form letter they say pieces are picked by quality, sellability, media, and CONTENT (Huh?) but I have a feeling my rumblings had something to do with my rejection and not my art. I worked at the PAV for 4 years, every decision they make is POLITICAL.

Every year I try to submit something different and interesting. It’s not that I’m some hack who does close-up photos of tulips or 5-minute abstract paintings. My piece brought $850 dollars last year which is about double of what others artist’ work brings. Two years ago I tied for first place for the People’s Choice award and the year before that I was on the Arts Night planning committee. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I put in my time, and my art is appreciated. I could care less what people pay for it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for giving other artists a chance. That was the goal of my art group MAC that I formed a couple of years ago. I think that is actually the positive thing that could come out of this, but it could be handled differently, like rotating artist donations every year, or having two Arts Nights per year. Howard once suggested one before Christmas would be a good idea. I’m finding out more and more though that people who had an education in the arts or arts management have trouble thinking for themselves and exploring new ideas. Apparently, creativity is not a part of the education.

This year I did a shadow box called “The day Ray Johnson died” It wasn’t a political piece, I usually try to stay away from that for Arts Night. It was a tribute to the famous self-taught collage/mail artist Ray Johnson. Ray was anti-establishment, maybe it’s fitting that that piece was rejected. He never had a manager and peddled his art on his own. Maybe the words “Art is Dead” painted on the shadow box glass deterred the jurors from selecting it (you know, that CONTENT thing). It was in reference to RAY’s death, not art in general, and in a postage mark. Basically I was saying that “Mail Art” died a little the day Ray died. It’s really not a complicated message. I think sometimes people look too deep into my art, I’ve told people it is all on the surface. A couple of years back, a local art critic poked fun at my work because I painted words on my paintings. He felt I was giving something away to the viewer, art is supposed to be giving to the viewer not cloaked in mystery. What if Caravaggio believed that, would he have invented the Baroque style? Speaking of Caravaggio, it makes me laugh that in 2007 artists are judged for their personal beliefs and personal lives instead of their art. Imagine if patrons would have felt this way about Caravaggio? He would have never worked a day in his life. He was quite the hellraiser. Patron’s wanted him for his art, not for his personality. I think that is what it is all about, by banning my art, they are banning me personally. Seems like a silly assertion, but trust me I have had past experiences with the Ol’ Pavilion.

This rejection was the last kick in the balls I’m going to take from any art organization, especially the Pavilion, a place that has kicked me twice before. Once when they refused to market my individual exhibit because it may be controversial and once when I was passed up for a management position when I worked there because I was too outspoken. Maybe I’m the stupid one here for continuing to donate. I tried getting out of it two years ago, but was personally asked by Howard and his assistant Erin, and that changed my mind. I was reassured by Erin that my work would probably never be rejected because I’m a long time donator that the VAC appreciated. Apparently times have changed.

There’s a new Sheriff in town, David is the new director of the VAC. Howard was filling in until they found one. I have never met David, but he had no problem putting a personal note on my rejection letter that he would like me to donate next year. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen – pal. According to his resume, he’s one of those ART SCHOOL apologists who judge art on it’s appearance. It’s a shame he had to pay for his education. I wonder if his new blood had a little to do with my rejection? I left David a phone message asking who the jurors were, he never called back. An email to him revealed that he was out of town until Monday, according to the auto reply. Seems convenient that he would be gone when all the rejected artists were picking up their work, so his staff has to deal with them. That’s typical of the Pavilion management: The best way to solve a problem is to ignore it. Looks like he will fit in nicely.

Make no mistake, the Pavilion is about private money and their donors. The donors shape what goes on in that building and the executive director and employees are merely their minions. I wonder what kind of soap they use to clean their noses?

Don’t believe me. Check this out. A couple years back, Arts Night registered a domain for the event where they show pictures of the artists work. I went there today to see who got selected:


Pretty cool huh? A credit card company apparently got picked.

So what’s next? I’m going to insist that the juror names be released or the reason why my piece was rejected. Secrecy only makes my suspicions stronger.


This is the Email exchange I had with the Pavilion, I CC the Executive Director on the Final response.



No need to call, I work all day and am hard to get a hold of.

I just have two questions:

1) What criteria did I fail that resulted in my piece getting rejected?

2) Who were the jurors? I am assuming this information is available
since you are a publicly funded institution.

Thank You
Scott L. Ehrisman



As was mentioned in the letter that was mailed out, “The volunteer jurors considered several key criteria while reviewing artwork. It was exciting because the quality of the pieces presented for consideration was amazing. However, with this event quality is not the sole criteria. Additional criteria included variety in media, content, and buyer appeal. It was a most difficult challenge to select from those 90 pieces approximately 60 that would be included in the live auction.”

The jurors selected are members of the community and friends of the arts. The jurors are anonymous because of the nature of this fundraising event.

Thank you again.

Best regards,




I guess I can understand (or maybe I can’t) why the jurors need to remain anonymous BEFORE the selection and rejections. But I can’t understand why they need to remain anonymous after the process is over?

I have been in several JURIED shows and the juror or jurors are always advertised, usually ahead of time. In fact I have even seen your name as a juror in a couple of exhibits. It only makes my suspician stronger that my rejection was purely political.

And, even if the jurors need to be ’secret’ why can’t you give specifics as to why MY PIECE was rejected? A form letter is tacky.

I have donated to Arts Night for the past 5 years. I was a member of the Arts Night Planning Committee 3 years ago. I won the People’s Choice award 2 years ago and my piece brought $850 last year (double of what half of the other pieces brought in the auction.) I highly doubt my rejection had anything to do with your ‘CRITERIA’.

I think REJECTING donations from artists in the community is unwise, as I told Howard and Erin last year after several of my friends were rejected.

Secrecy and Censorship is NOT the cornerstone of art – especially in a publicly funded facility.

Scott L. Ehrisman

PS- Save yourself some postage and remove me from ALL of your mailing lists.



Like I said above “Secrecy and Censorship” have no place in public art. Sometimes I sound like a broken record when I tell arts administrators about this.

When did Neo-Cons take over the Arts?

Hopefully this experience will pan out, and I will be able to make a point once and for all about Elitism, Censorship and Secrecy in are the Sioux Falls arts community.

Think the Pavilion Cinedome roof replacement was costly?

That’s nothing. While the steel roof is supposed to last for 40-60 years*, what do you think new plumbing should last? Remember, the Pavilion was almost completely gutted, all of this plumbing would/should be new(er). $228K to upgrade 16 year old plumbing? (Sioux Falls City Council Consent Agenda) I wonder if the same contractor boondoggle is going on over at the EC? How many ‘upgrades’ will we need on that site in 16 years?


*A steel roofing specialist told me that it probably wasn’t the roof that needed to be replaced, but the lining underneath was probably not properly installed and that is what caused the leaks. As I told someone the other day about the Cinedome roof and the EC siding, construction problems are kind of like skin cancer, it’s not the little spots on the outside that are visible that should concern you, it is what is underneath.

Pavilion has low expectations of new VAC director

I found the education requirements of the job posting for the VAC director interesting;

Min Education: BA/BS/Undergraduate

Min Experience: 5-7 Years

I could speculate a couple of reasons why they are not requiring much experience and education;

- Doesn’t pay well

- Already have some insider picked to do the job that has some family connection to the Board (that’s how the current curator got picked, rumor has it).

- Easy to control and manipulate a newbie to the industry.

Whoever does get picked for the job, I feel sorry for them. One person runs the show in that building, and if you disagree with them, you can kiss your ass goodbye. If you don’t believe me, just ask them what happened to the last Development Director. Would love to hear ‘the truthful’ answer.

A Doe, A Deer, a wrecked Pavilion Mini-Van & the story of the missing development director


This is something I have been working on for awhile, and with the assistance of a very ‘investigative’ South DaCola foot soldier, I finally got to the bottom of it. Well, almost.

Let’s start at the end. Supposedly last October (2013) there was a vehicle/deer collision near Wall, SD. No worries, the passenger and the driver are OK, no one got hurt, I can’t say that much about the deer (I am assuming deceased) and the van they were driving–Toast. But fortunately, ‘the package’ they were carrying also survived with no damages.

See the Pavilion, in all of their wisdom decided that they would transport paintings on loan from the Sioux Indian Art museum (a division of the Journey museum) in Rapid City to Sioux Falls, according to an official at the Journey. Nothing wrong with this practice. Many museums do this, usually not across an entire state though. So what’s the story here? First off, I just want to say that I am glad the two ladies are okay that were involved.

Secondly, why didn’t the Pavilion do what most professional art museums do? Hire a transport company that is insured and bonded in this kind of shipping. Were the paintings insured while they were transported by the Pavilion employees? And more importantly, what if they weren’t and they got damaged? Or employees got seriously injured while on the clock? They can kiss that $10,000 admission fee good bye.

What I can’t figure out is if they were on the ‘Up and Up’ with all of their insurance and transporting detail (which they may have been) why not tell the public about this accident? What’s the harm? The ladies are fine, the art is okay, wouldn’t the public like to know about this? I guess they only like to get the public involved when they have a mis-bid on window replacement or a leaking Cinedome roof. The Pavilion only speaks to the ‘have-nots’ when they need money from us.

Now onto a little story in the SFBJ today.

The Pavilion finally decides to hire a development director;

The Pavilion did not have a development director for the year.

The position was filled recently by Ann Parker, the former head of corporate communications and investor relations for Sonifi, formerly LodgeNet Interactive Corp.

The position will help build development and sponsorships, Toll said.

So first off, we have a co-president who was managing LodgeNet when they were going through bankruptcy and he hires a person from that former bankrupt company?

Nice. They must be bonding well.

The Pavilion is consistently talking about raising money, yet they don’t fill the very position that is responsible for fundraising for a full year? And yes, they have yet to say why the other development director left. Maybe those secrets died somewhere by Wall Drug? I bet they are hoping so.

Why charging admission at the Wash Pav’s Visual Art Center was a ‘bad idea’

As I suspected, this year long experiment isn’t going well;

In the year since the Washington Pavilion’s Visual Arts Center began charging admission, attendance has been lower than previous years’ estimates.

But Pavilion administrators think the lower numbers reflect more accurate counting of visitors rather than an actual decline in attendance.

Toll said getting better information about the art center’s patrons is part of why it started charging admission last July.

“The big reason we did this was not the money. By just letting people walk in, we had no idea who was coming to our different art shows,” Toll said.

Previously, the Pavilion estimated annual attendance to the arts center about 40,000. Since it started charging admission, the center has seen about 14,000 visits.

Toll said the 40,000 guess probably was an overestimate, and that the Pavilion now has much better data on visitors and their demographics.

Baloney! When the VAC was free I do recall the receptionist clicking a head counter when going in the place. And how is charging admission helping the Pavilion’s bottom line?

In the first six months, admission fees brought in about $10,000 — not enough to cover the cost of a typical show, Toll said.

The goal is to move the city-subsidized Visual Arts Center closer to a break-even operation, Toll said. The visual art board set the rates.

I see that is working out wonderfully. NOT. A more effective way to cover expenses is through successful fundraisers, charging ONLY for major exhibits and using grant money. One of the reasons I donated to Arts Night for several years is because I found great value in having a FREE arts center in our community. The Pavilion went back on their promise to the voters and community by NOT keeping the VAC free;

Visitors still have the opportunity to see exhibits free. Every first Friday of the month from 5 to 8 p.m., both the Visual Arts and the Kirby Science Discovery Centers are free. Tuesdays also are free admission.

Almost 7 in 10 visitors attended free of charge during the fee’s first six months, Toll said.

So almost 75% of the attendance occurred within a 5-day period each month? Doesn’t this tell the Pavilion something? People want to see the exhibits for FREE, and are entitled to IMO because of the enormous subsidy we give them, not just from the entertainment tax and CIP money for maintenance, but also Federal and State grants the Pavilion receives. So while we are already paying to attend the Pavilion before we even walk in the doors, we still have to pay when we get there. It’s called separating the ‘Haves’ from the ‘Have Nots’, who can only afford to use the place 5 days out of the month.

Nan Baker, executive director for the Sioux Falls Arts Council, said she and her family take advantage of free days. Even on free days, visitors are given tickets to keep track of how many there are and where they come from.

Baker said tracking the number of people who enter free is important for the local economy. She said trends show that when people visit the arts center for free, they often spend money on other areas, such as baby sitters and local restaurants and bars.

Nan, the Pavilion doesn’t care about the economic impact a FREE admission may have on our community, they only care about what they can rake in. It’s time there is an external audit and review of the Washington Pavilion Management Company, and I am not talking about the city auditor or a local gun for hire. I’m talking about an out of state company that specializes in these kinds of audits and reviews. Not just some one page report prepared by the financial officer that has been there since day one with the operations manager. It’s time the taxpayers of this community found out what was going on in the Big Purple Building, it’s time for a new management company that is interested in making money from the entities it can make money from (Cinedome, Catering, Gift shop, education programs & Great Hall) and passing those profits on to the VAC so it can go back to being FREE while bringing in World class exhibits. But I am afraid our council doesn’t have the backbone to ask for this. Maybe it is time for a petition drive to revoke the Pavilion’s Management contract? Seems that is the only way we have progress anymore in this community.

The very ‘vague’ Pavilion Annual Report

The Washington Bazillion is presenting their annual report to the city council during their informational on Tuesday (DOC: Washingthebooks).

They have been presenting this kind of report to the council for a number of years. Very vague. No breakdown of specific revenues from each branch of the Pavilion. My favorite line under Expenses is ‘other expenses’. Imagine doing your taxes with your accountant and submitting this to him? LOL! Oh, and two things have remained consistent, the city’s subsidy goes up each year, and so do the salaries. I do agree with Pavilion officials on one front, results in the arts business are not always measured in revenue, they are measured in cultural impact to the community, in other words, most businesses give raises based on results, whether they are in dollar signs or impact. Wondering how the Pavilion can justify the continued salary increases?

The City Council should demand a full, detailed Annual Report to the city council, like they used to supply on their website to the public. Of course, it may reveal what is really going on in the big purple building. Not a gawd damn thing.