Parking ramp mural artists issue statement in advance of visual arts commission meeting

"We are disappointed by the exploitation of time, energy," the statement reads.

Ramp mural 1.jpg
The East 10th Stree parking ramp in downtown Sioux Falls on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023.
Patrick Lalley / Sioux Falls Live

SIOUX FALLS – The artists behind the mural selected for the East 10th Street parking ramp, later overturned by Mayor Paul Tenhaken, issued a statement this morning, Feb. 21.

Amber Hansen, Reyna Hernandez and Darcy Millette sent the statement to Sioux Falls Live in advance of a meeting of the Visual Arts Commission, which meets at 9 a.m.

“We are grateful to the Sioux Falls Arts Council, the Visual Arts Commission, and MarketBeat for their support during the city’s selection process for the 10th Street parking garage mural. As of now, we do not know the reason behind the Mayor’s decision to override the VAC’s unanimous selection of our design, ‘Buffalo Dreamer.’

“As local artists and community focused muralists, we are disappointed by the exploitation of time, energy, and resources that the city’s process demanded from those it claims to serve. Despite our disappointment in what has transpired, we are hopeful that this experience ignites a conversation surrounding issues of transparency and systemic power plays concerning who determines and shapes the arts and culture in the city of Sioux Falls and throughout the state of South Dakota.”

The commission meets at 9 a.m. in the Cooper Conference Room #110 at City Center, 231 N. Dakota Ave.


The agenda includes a period for public comment and a regular update from the Sioux Falls Arts Council.

Kellen Boice, executive director of the Arts Council, said her update likely will cover the topic of the parking ramp mural but declined to discuss specifics before speaking to the VAC.

The council administered the process to find private funding and the selection process for the mural. Boice, who also serves as vice chair of the VAC, recused herself from the unanimous final vote on Dec. 20 to award the commission to Hansen, Hernandez and Millette.

The budget for the project was $28,500 with a June 30 deadline.

MarketBeat, a Sioux Falls company, agreed to sponsor the mural.

"It's disappointing to hear that the project will not be completed,” MarketBeat Founder and CEO Matt Paulson said in a statement to Sioux Falls Live. “We would have loved to see a local artist paint a mural on such a unique canvas. We look forward to finding other ways to support the Sioux Falls arts community in the future."

The VAC’s decision on the mural came down to two finalists, the Hansen/Hernandez/Millette submission and one by Eric Vozzola. The first vote was 4-2 in favor of the trio with a second vote to stand in unanimity behind a decision, according to the minutes of the Dec. 20 meeting.

However, at the next meeting on Jan. 17, Eckhoff told the commission that Mayor Paul TenHaken chose Vozzola’s piece titled “The Dance of Creativity.”


The inspiration is traditional Lakota hoop dancing and other Sioux tribal cultures and history of the landscape.

“Through the use of vibrant colors and thoughtful abstraction, the artwork brings movement and an energy that will hopefully inspire and brighten the surrounding area for the life of the mural,” the minutes noted.

Echoff’s statement ending the process was made after inquiries into the mayor’s preference into the Vozzola piece after the minutes of the Jan. 17 meeting were released on Thursday.

In a statement to Sioux Falls Live on Friday, Feb. 17, the city said a consensus was not reached on a concept for a temporary mural on a bare wall of the East 10th Street ramp.

“Art is subjective, and at this point in the process, a shared vision for one artwork could not be reached, so it’s been determined not to pursue a mural,” Jeff Eckhoff, director of planning and development, said in the statement.

No images from the artists have been made public.

Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at
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