Sunday, February 13, 2011

Celebrating the Ordinary

There is another Do Not Miss exhibition at Sioux Falls’ Washington Pavilion – In Search of Norman Rockwell’s America.

Us Baby Boomers grew up with Norman Rockwell. He was seemingly always there and illustrated the ordinary but what is best about America – its People – the product of a melting pot of many former nationalities. Life was less rushed in those days, and perhaps seemed ordinary though there the omnipresent “Cold War.”

Norman Rockwell thru his art, chronicled America. He partnered with the Boy Scouts and illustrated their annual calendar and many of Boy Scout publications. Most weeks Rockwell drawings could be found on the cover of the popular weekly magazine, “The Saturday Evening Post.”

The Washington Pavilion exhibit in terms of the Art probably only rates a solid B but if you want to see into the soul of America it is an A Plus!

Most of the Rockwell pieces are lithographs or other reprints. There is very little original work either sketches or oil painting. In terms of the art, it is less prestigious than the Pavilion’s earlier exhibit of August Rodin.

An interesting aspect is the presentation itself. The subject matter of Rockwell’s work is juxtaposed to photographs by Kevin Rivoli. While I do not know who produced the travelling exhibit, I sense (am guessing) that Rivoli has his hand in the promotion mix. Using the renowned Rockwell to help exhibit his own work seems to be a good (if not great) idea.

The exhibit ends on Sunday, February 27 though Pavilion evening hours have been extended on many nights.

Long End Bar on the Washington Pavilion - When the Pavilion project was put to a vote in conjunction with the Convention Center at the Arena I opposed it. I thought the Convention Center was a good idea and would provide for economic development but keeping the Pavilion nothing more than a white elephant. I did not understand the Sioux Falls mentality of sentimentality in keeping buildings that has outlived their purpose and had on idea of what to use them for. I thought that the Pavilion would inevitably incur cost overruns and be costly to maintain. I was correct about that.

What I was wrong about was what a great place (though expensive) the Pavilion would turn out to be and how the Convention Center has not lived up to its expectations. The Convention Center is very nice and too requires a municipal financial supplement. In the over 10 years we’ve had the Center I can’t remember more than maybe 10 events or conventions that came because of the facility or events that could not have been hosted in the Arena (and yes we need a new Arena – Events Center).

The Pavilion turned out to include the Great Hall (La Scala on the Plains), the CineDome (Imax knock off big screen theatre), black box theatre (love that name). Discovery Science Center, and Visual Arts Center.

These are all first rate and La Scala on the Plains actually spectacular. While expensive, Sioux Falls is lucky to have the Washington Pavilion.

I use it very little. In its time I have not yet attended the Symphony. My highlight reel includes besides the Rodin and Rockwell exhibits, three big screen natural history movies (excuse me films), songstress Anne Murray, Hal Holbrook in “An Evening with Mark Twain”, the travelling road show of one of my favorite musicals, “Show Boat”, and a String recital in the Black Box with students of Ray Sidoti. I missed Willie but so it goes.

In case it is not clear, I am glad we have the Pavilion, it’s a Plus for Sioux Falls.

Management of the Pavilion has had a rocky history but its fortunes are improving under the capable hands and leadership of Larry Toll. (That’s a theme for another time.) Larry is another big Plus for Sioux Falls.

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