Saturday, September 12, 2015

Art Alley: Rapid City's Hidden Treasure

Protect the Sacred

Rapid City, you surprised me. I expected something small-town and folksy with plenty of nods to your gold mining, Old West history. I didn't know I'd stumble upon a hip, urban graffiti scene nestled in a city that's a gateway to the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore and the Badlands.

We were walking back to our hotel after dinner on a summer evening. Behind us, families sat around a big screen showing a Disney Princess movie in Main Street Square. In the gathering dusk, a brightly colored picture spray painted on a wall caught my eye. Looking down between the buildings. I noticed figures here and there silhouetted against the lights. They stood still, gazing up at whatever was on the walls. I was curious but too cautious to drag the kids with me to discover what was down that dimly lit alley.

The next morning, I pulled aside the hotel room curtain to see if I could get a better look at what had caught those people's interest.

Rapid City Art Alley
The view from my room in the Hotel Alex Johnson

All the way down the block, it seemed that every reachable surface, even the trash dumpsters, were decorated with street art. I definitely wanted a closer look. And I think that the fact that I was in wholesome Rapid City instead of a more worldly metropolitan like New York City made me comfortable that I wasn't setting myself up for a mugging.

Here are some of my favorites.

Pizza Bandits

By Kazilla, world renowned female street artist

Lakota Warrior

Blue Owl

The Sacred, pop culture, and the weird. Virgin Mary, Homer Simpson and who knows what

Van Gogh quote

Although, it seems that not all property owners wanted to be part of this piece of public art.

I do like that the persons said Thanks with 2 exclamation points. That seemed to fit in with the friendly, welcoming vibe of Rapid City.

Lots of room for self-expression

Prefer something more traditional? Check out Rapid City's official public art project, City of Presidents. Life-size bronze statues of American presidents stand around the downtown area. 

Rapid City, South Dakota
Slapping palms with John Adams, 2nd president of the USA

  • This is a service area for businesses. I walked through it early in the morning before they opened, but I'm sure that mid-day has lots of delivery trucks zooming down it. Keep an eye out so you don't get run over.
  • Art Alley is located in an alley in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. It connects 6th Street and 7th Street between Main Street and Saint Joseph Street.

Do you like searching for Street Art when you travel?

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  1. I stumbled into Art Alley in Rapid City on the night of the Street Art Party this summer. Great seeing the place again in your post in the daylight hours.

  2. Michelle,
    The city surprised you and it surprised me too! Was not expecting this place to have such a "cool" vibe. What other things surprised you about the place? I know it was a short stop but maybe you spotted cool boutiques or places to eat.

  3. I love that you had the view from above. Sometimes walking on ground level it is easy to not grasp the enormity of what you are viewing. Or conversely it all blends into one, but when it is seen from above it all falls into place. It must have been an interesting area to stay in.

  4. I seek art out wherever I go and love Art Alley in Rapid City. Amazing art and amazing photography

  5. I've been meaning to make a pinterest folder of street art to house my own photos, but I think I'll start with yours. Rapid City has some talented artists!

  6. What a cool area you stumbled upon. I like the photo from above. My favorite one of those you featured is the Lakota Warrior.

  7. I definitely wouldn't have expected this is in Rapid City, SD. I love learning about these surprising areas in unexpected places. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I love it when I stumble upon street arts when I travel. This is one cool alley you have stumbled upon. Lots of creative energy there. I haven't heard of Rapid City and haven't been to SD. Would love to get there one day and will keep this art alley in mind.

  9. We didn't get to really explore the city part of Rapid City when we to western South Dakota, but now I definitely have to go to see this! This looks amazing! I never would've guessed it! Now I have to go back and see this. It doesn't surprise me that South Dakota has some great art though, Sioux Falls where I'm from has amazing sculpture walks in the city so South Dakota really is a great place to see some great art!

    1. We enjoyed our time in Sioux Falls. Great public art in the downtown area.

  10. Some great examples of street art there! And it seems they don't get overtagged with tagging graffiti, which is great. Here in Melbourne, I've watched some of our best street art disappear under scrawled tags, which is a bit sad.

    1. That Kazilla piece of the woman in profile had actually been tagged over and then restored just a few weeks beforehand. There's a small team of street artist in Rapid City who do "maintenance" work on the pieces.

  11. This is really interesting. It's quite a jumble but some of it is quite interesting! good for you for straying down alleys to explore it!

  12. I'd visit Art Alley over the bronze presidents any day! Who would've thought that Rapid City has its hipster areas too?! I especially love the wall with the Van Gogh quote.

  13. That's very bohemian! I love it!
    Nice that the sign was still polite with the Thanks at the end. :p

  14. Wow! That street art is amazing. Rapid City is a surprise!

  15. What an interesting post, Michele! Street art has come such a long way, hasn't it? When it first started it was just pure vandalism, graffiti, but now.... what a difference!

  16. This place looks amazing! I've always loved street art, but have never been to a city where I'd be surrounded in it to the scale of Rapid City. Very cool! And great photos!

  17. This street art is amazing! I love the one by Kazilla! I had never really known or seen much street art until I went on a street art tour in Buenos Aires last year but it was so good that I've been fascinated with wanting to see more ever since and these works of art look incredible - must take such talent!

  18. I love the street art. The Lakota warrior stood out for me, he reminds me of one of my favourite shows, The Gargoyles.

  19. Wow! That was certainly not what I would've expected it either. One of those who knew? moments.

  20. We love looking for street art. What a great find and you're right, I never would have expected this from Rapid City or South Dakota. Who knew?! One more thing I need to add to the list when we finally make it to SD. I love the Kazilla and Van Gogh ones.


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