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Rapid City woman creating Garden Gallery to display art: "Along the Way"

 Artist Deborah Mitchell with a print she made of Grace Coolidge Creek using an old style etching press.
Artist Deborah Mitchell with a print she made of Grace Coolidge Creek using an old style etching press. (KEVN)
Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 11:49 PM MDT
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A Rapid City woman retired a couple years ago after teaching art at the School of Mines for 19 years.

Now she has plans to combine two things she loves, to create something, unlike anything, you've likely ever seen, in her backyard.

Artist Deborah Mitchell is a walking talking personification of creativity.

"The melding of garden and art is basically my life's work," says Artist Deborah Mitchell.

And in her backyard, Mitchell plans to create what she's calling "The Garden Gallery" "an open air art viewing experience for artists and art lovers alike." And she plans to display other artists work here as well.

"So like this piece in particular is kind of a melding of my love of motorcycles and some of the work that I did based on my impression of Turkey. So the colored background, my mono-types," Mitchell says.

It's early in the season, but already she has flowers in bloom. She says gardening, especially now during the pandemic, has brought her peace.

"My way to connect with the Earth and esecially with social distancing. It's just been a godsend to be able to come out in my garden and work hard," she says.

She likes to travel, and those travels are reflected in her work. For example when she bought some pictures at a street fair in Luca, Italy.

"I found a basket of these amazing photographs that were portraits that somebody had taken. This would have had to be really close to World War 2," artist Deborah Mitchell explains.

She says she scooped up as many as she could, without even knowing what she would do with them. They're now part of what she calls, her Lost Soul Series.

"Bring those lost souls back and give them a voice, a presence that people could appreciate as beautiful," she explains.

And just as those photos are classic, nostalgic, and idyllic: so is, another style of her art, involving the use of an old school etching press.

"And what you do is you have a copper plate and you ink it up. You just put all kinds of ink all over the top, and then you slowly wipe it away so it just stays with the engraved or etched parts," Mitchell says, explaining the process of getting the copper plate ready before it goes into the press.

She says this old press applies a thousand pounds per square inch...

"So when you run it through with the high pressure and this soft blanket, it pushes the paper down into those things and you peel it back up and what you have is, is an etching. And this is an etching that I did of Grace Coolidge Creek," Mitchell says as she shows us the finished print.

Not a photo, not a painting, rather an etched reflection, so detailed, you can almost hear the water flow as it swishes down the creek. While she loves to travel, it's not only overseas, she says she's been riding motorcycles since she moved to the Black Hills. She uses sketch books and watercolors to document her two wheeled travels.

"Brice Canyon. This was great. I got there the sun was going down and I was like can do this fast and I did it in like 15 minutes," Mitchell says, as she shows us pictures of page after page of watercolor painings in one of her sketch books.

So many images, so many memories, captured with a brush.

"And people ask me if I want to sell them all the time, if I wanna sell them, and it's like, this is my diary, ya know," she says, talking about the interest in her sketch books.

And in this quiet peaceful place, enclosed by a white wooden fence, it's easy to see, how it will soon be the "Garden Gallery".

She expects the gallery to be ready within about a month. She says all proper pandemic protocols will be required for visitors.

If you've met someone cool "Along the Way" please call or e-mail us to let us know.

If you're interested in learning more about the Garden Gallery, and how to arrange a visit, you can check out her website: DeborahMitchellArtist.com

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