Walter Portz showing off his shining achievement!

I had a heartfelt moment the other night as I was conversing and watching Mr. Portz work on a mural that is about 260 ft long and 75 ft high. I love to watch mural painters because it is fascinating to watch people work on a canvas so large. So I have been visiting Walter Portz at night watching the progress, and it has been my highlight of the day riding by at night, and Walter said to me, “You are my only visitor that has come back multiple times.” I’m an art nerd like that, but it got me wondering why others are not watching this historic art piece take shape.

The picture above was from tonight, and Walter was putting on the finishing pieces so I wanted the first photo of the (almost) completed piece. I’m little disappointed he edited out the naked lady (I will update soon about her) but for the most part, the piece, which Walter edited several times in the process, is chocked full of fun imagery and context, and it looks a Hell of lot better then what the politicians left there.

This is a sticker design I came up with last night with elements of the mural (H/T to Shepard Fairey, yeah, I stole it 🙂

But it got me thinking about all the controversy and barbs thrown at Mr. Portz. For the record, Walter and I are NOT close, I only know him thru the skatepark association and several mutual friends and our love of art. That’s it. We are NOT in cahoots and I had NO idea he was working on this before it was announced. I want to make this clear because some people have made accusations that are simply not true, and laughable if they were. MOST of our conversations have been about the piece and what he might tweak. I know, weird that two artists would just sit and talk about art . . .

First off, Portz didn’t know the rejected mural artists, and did NOT do this to spite them. That is ludicrous. And while local artists will always dig on each other about style and form, it’s not cool to rip on someone who is doing something to beautify this town. We are all in this together. And while you might be jealous that someone got this sweet gig, that only means you should strive for it and look to it as inspiration. When I walk out of a fine art museum, all I want to do is paint! Be inspired by what he did in just a matter of weeks instead of angry about your missed opportunity!

The way the original proposed artists were treated was total bullcrap, and trust me, I worked my sources to get a picture of that mural, no luck, but you must separate this work from that one. One is about transparent government, that other is about taking a different approach. And all of this could actually come to a head if they would just SHOW us what they proposed. It’s hard to say you were treated unfairly if you don’t let us make an actual determination. We can’t do that if you don’t show us. So until that step is taken, I’m not buying the crocodile tears.

As for using AI, I had a good laugh with Walter about this the other night. I have been a visual artist most of my life and a graphic designer for 30 years, everything good I did as an artist or designer was stolen. Artists have done this for thousands of years. Greek architecture is used to this day! Considered the world’s greatest modern artist, Pablo Picasso, became famous by duplicating an ancient primitive form of African tribal and folk art. The most famous artist in the world was a Klepto! I know, SHOCKER!

AI, Photoshop, Illustrator Live Trace, blah, blah, blah, are all tools in an artist’s toolbox just like a paintbrush or easel. Nothing more. Nothing less.

While I like to bitch about a lot things, this is NOT one of them. A guy decided to cover up that awful wall with colorful paint and devised a plan to do it, did it, and now it is done.

Once in awhile you just have to look up at the canvas and say ‘Thank You’ because we got a million other concerns in this town besides what we will do Lenin’s Tomb at the Zoo. Dead for 99 years and looks like he died yesterday! Don’t tell anyone, but I think I saw an Arsenic tear roll down his face. Though it might just be cheeseburger grease. I heard the West Sioux folks are also angling to move his tomb to Sioux Falls. Watch out Arc of Dreams there’s a new shiny object in town! Well, kind of shiny.

Maybe if the zoo mounts were part of a food truck they would continue to cover it?

After this last week’s presser on the zoo mounts in which Paul chided the media about all the coverage, the media has been strangely quiet since.

I know, I know, there wasn’t a donation from Sanford or rejected mural designs this week, so it has been slow, but why not some followup stories;

• Speak with National and International Natural History Experts

• Talk with legislators about changing state law

• Interview ALL city councilors about their feelings on it

• When is it appropriate to have Executive Sessions? And what can be discussed?

• Elected leaders control of the media (this would be the best story).

• If not being disposed of in the landfill, where? (I think they will be cremated, which is really no different then throwing them in the dump).

It amazes me, that ONE elected official (out of 9) can just smack the media around for a couple of seconds at a press conference and the story runs cold. You could do HUNDREDS of stories about taxidermy, natural history, city history, open government, and the list goes on.


Every time I hear anything about the Bunker Ramp and Mural, I just shake my head because of a missed opportunity. I have been stating for a couple of years that you could put a BUILDING WRAP on the ramp that would advertise all the DTSF businesses. The best part is you could pay for the wrap with ad revenue and when the building is leased or sold, you simply roll it up and dispose of it.


While I haven’t priced one of these in a long time, my guess is it would be cheaper then the $30K it is taking to put up a mural (original art that will be destroyed). You could also incorporate images of DTSF intertwined into the piece.

With all the people working at city hall from media and marketing you would think at least one of them would have raised their hands and said, “Why not a building wrap?”

Oh that’s right, the ONE in ONE Sioux Falls stands for the only person making decisions in this city. No wonder he is stressed!

I noticed a few months back that there was no longer streaming videos on the Rotary’s FB page or YT page. I forgot about it until I noticed they had a presentation about childcare this past Monday and I couldn’t find a video. A couple of people I know inquired about it and apparently they were paying someone to record the videos so they discontinued it because of the expense. Ironically they could get someone to volunteer to film the events with their phone with little to no expense involved.

I just find it ironic that they quit filming after a certain POLITICAL PARTY and GOVERNOR decided to cherry pick quotes for political ads from their event videos. If there is a bottom of the barrel that needs to be scraped, they’re on it!

Unfortunately when you live stream your events for free on YT of FB it becomes their property, in a quasi-sense, so it is hard to copyright and prevent others from using it for political gain.

It’s unfortunate that they discontinued the event videos, they were actually very informative. Just another thing Noem ruined.

Not sure if many people follow tiki artist, SHAG, but you can see his images here. SHAG was actually inspired by mid-century commercial artists that painted in a similar style. I love the style and have a bunch of SHAG prints. But the mural needs more tikis and martini glasses.

Not sure if Portz was inspired by SHAG, but now days nothing is original, and I certainly steal ideas from several artists, most notably, Andy Warhol.

During the video the mayor made the comment that they are ‘doing it the right way’. According to who? You? He also said that the image was ‘Non-Controversial’ though I do see a nod to this guy going on. As the mayor also said ‘Art is subjective’ and exactly the reason that we shouldn’t allow ONE person or special group of people to be selecting public art behind closed doors.

During the public input period at the Active Transportation Board I commented on the darkness of city hall and how I have never seen it this bad in 20 years. I told the board, until you have a transparent government you accomplish very little.

I feel bad for all the good people involved with this project, from the artist, to the donor to the city staff who have to tow the line of secretive government because that is what your master demands, but at the end of the day you can either feed at that trough or you can do the right thing and say ‘NO. This is wrong.’

The mural will ultimately be an improvement of what we have now, but golly, that’s a lot of lipstick!