Faulkton to Feature Mural by World-Famous Artist

5 Jul 2018

Arts and Culture

elevatorFor a small town, Faulkton, South Dakota has made some big investments in the arts. Its latest public art project will be a distinctive piece by an internationally acclaimed artist that’s sure to draw visitors from throughout the region.

Australian artist Guido van Helten will use the side of a grain elevator in Faulkton as his canvas this summer. His aim will be to portray the essence of the town through a photorealistic, larger than life mural.

Van Helten has been commissioned to create public works of art throughout the world, from Belarus to Ukraine. Public and private funds were raised for this remarkable project, which has broad community support.

Faulkton resident David Hedt, who is from Australia, was the impetus behind bringing van Helten to town. One of van Helten’s murals graces a silo in Brim, a small town in Victoria, Australia near where Hedt grew up.

“Anyone who has ever seen his artwork in real life knows that it’s outstanding,” says Hedt. “He’s unbelievably talented — we’re very lucky he’s coming here.”

The silo art has drawn a lot of attention to Brim, a town of only 100 people. About 1,000 tourists visit the mural each month, providing a nice boost for the economy.

Hedt hopes the Faulkton mural will be similarly successful, as it will be a unique piece in the region. “He doesn’t want his artwork want to become too common. I doubt there will be another work of his in the state,” he says.

The piece will be painted on the Agtegra grain elevator, which sits on the east edge of Faulkton and can be viewed from miles away. The artist is expected to spend several weeks painting it.

The content of the mural will be derived from research van Helten conducted while visiting during the summer of 2017. He explored the area for a month, interviewing people and taking photographs to gain insight into the place and its people for his site-specific work.

“People are the essence of a place. He really captures the people of the places he visits,” says Hedt.

Hedt points out that making this mural project a reality has been a tremendous effort on the community’s part. “Faulkton has such a nice, strong community spirit with driven people who want to make sure it succeeds,” says Hedt.

As a case in point, Mayor Slade Roseland invited van Helten to his farm for a few days last July and spent time taking him around. He wanted to ensure the artist got an authentic impression of the town and its people. Roseland is impressed with van Helten’s work and thrilled that Faulkton will be home to one of his murals.

“It’s extremely important to the community because the sky is the limit for the tourism boost — not only for people coming to see the finished project but also to come and watch as he’s painting it,” he says. “On a broader spectrum, it also gives us a chance to showcase the other great aspects of our town and all that Faulkton has to offer.”

The public is encouraged to follow the artist’s progress on the mural over the next few weeks. Visit the FAEDC website or Facebook page for updates and a live feed.

Please note: Agtegra is an operating business. The Faulkton Retail Center, Faulkton Airport and the corner of Court Street and 8th Ave. South are good public parking and viewing locations.  

As a part of van Helten’s residency in Faukton, he taught a youth art class and is meeting with members of the media and the public. Tentative details on the media day are below.

Media Day and Public Q&A

Friday, July 13 at the Community Center

  • 1-4 p.m. - Press conference with media.
  • 6:30 p.m. - Q & A with the public. Van Helten will give a presentation and talk about his background as well as the other artwork he’s created around the world. Drinks and snacks will be served (free will donations accepted).

Donations are needed to help construct public viewing areas for the mural. Contact Aussie Dave at faulktonrc@gmail.com for more information.

A version of this article was originally published by South Dakota Prairie Gateway, which is a portal for economic development information in Eastern Rural Communities of South Dakota.