The Dacotah Prairie Museum will be hosting their second biennial “Artists of the Prairie” art show in the Lamont Gallery from September 30 to November 25. This year’s show, titled “Dreams and Memories”, is a collaborative exhibit with entries by artists from South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota. Individuals who have ties to the prairie are united in this display of vibrancy and creativity. The show is a collaboration that celebrates art and artists of the prairie, nurtures our prairie culture, promotes creativity, engages people in meaningful art experiences, and provides a venue for established and emerging artists to exhibit work. Participants were chosen for the show through an application process, and this year the show will feature just over 50 artists. Many of these artists are local to the Aberdeen area.
The first “Artists of the Prairie” show was held in 2021.
Marianne Marttila-Klipfel said that people might notice that the gallery has a different look and footprint in the photos taken in 2021. The first “Artists of the Prairie” was the last exhibit featured in the Lamont Gallery before they took on an extensive remodeling project of the space in November 2021.
An artist open house day will be held on Saturday, November 4 during regular museum hours. Many pieces of art will be available for purchase as well.
Admission to the museum and its gallery is free, but donations for the betterment of museum exhibits and programming are appreciated.
The Dacotah Prairie Museum opened in 1969 and has been home to the Lamont Gallery since 1970. The museum has a long history of hosting art shows, dating back to a 1970-era ‘art exhibit room’ as described by early museum records.
The gallery was originally on the first floor of the building where The Mercantile, the museum’s gift shop, currently stands. Later, it was moved to the east end of the first floor. In 1982, as the museum expanded its display spaces, the art gallery was moved to a newly remodeled room on the northeast end of the second floor, where it has been located since. An expansion of the Lamont Gallery was completed in February 2022, which included new lights, a sound system, a gallery hanging system, and a movable gallery wall unit.
A space dedicated to art in the museum can be attributed in part to advocacy for a community art gallery and support of local arts by former Aberdeen businessman, farmer, banker, and artist in his own right, William ‘Bill’ Mather Lamont (1913-1973). At his urging, an art gallery was incorporated into the Dacotah Prairie Museum for displaying local and traveling exhibits of fine art. Following his death in 1973, the museum voted to rename the room in his memory. The ‘William Mather Lamont Gallery’ at Dacotah Prairie Museum was dedicated in December 1973. Retrospective exhibits of W.M. Lamont’s artwork were displayed in the space in 1979, and again in 1994.
William Lamont was born in Aberdeen. His artistic gifts became apparent during his time as a student at Aberdeen Central High School. He went on to enroll in Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1931 where he pursued a degree in Fine Arts. Graduating with honors, he was offered a position in the art department as a teaching fellow. The Great Depression in the 1930s affected many aspects of life, including limiting opportunities in the arts field. He was encouraged by his grandfather, B.C. Lamont, to return to South Dakota to join the family business, which he did. His love of art and time in his own studio continued to be an important facet of his life, even as he pursued a career in business. He even returned to the east coast for a year in graduate study at the Art Students League of New York. He was married to Peg (Stiles) Lamont in 1937 in Aberdeen and settled into life in the Dakotas, where he worked, raised a family, and created a body of versatile works of art. He was involved in the community and was a strong advocate for the arts, including being a co-founder of the Aberdeen Arts Council and serving as an officer in the organization for seven years. His works of art included etchings, screen prints, woodcuts, paintings in watercolor and egg tempera, and other media. He exhibited his works in several venues within Aberdeen and in shows in the Midwest. His art was also shown on the east coast during his time as a student, including a designation as best of show at a Art Students League of New York show, and his portrait painting of an exchange student was featured on exhibit in the student’s home country of Sweden. //