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Downtown business owners support Art Alley
By Jamie Kunchick
July 5 2007

An unconventional way to showcase unconventional art in downtown Rapid City has received its fair share of controversy. In a small corner of downtown lies somewhat of a bohemian culture where artists can express themselves freely. Exactly where they are expressing themselves, however, is a bit controversial.

Artists all over Rapid City, professional or not, are invited to an alley off of 7th Street to create and display their works of art.

Portraits are painted on the backs of buildings, canvases are hung on telephone polls, and even garbage containers are turned into masterpieces.

The project began when local business owners were cleaning up the graffiti that had vandalized their buildings by covering it with their own artwork.

The art project expanded throughout the entire alley when local artists began posting their works as well.

Those who support the project say they want city residents and tourists to be able to experience local artists in a whole new way.

Dennis Halterman, The Factory

"I really think this has helped all of Rapid City have something very new, very fun and organic. Things that they see other places and come here and we're really trying to do it in new and unique ways."

The unofficial leaders of the Art Alley have urged the city council to look at the art in the alley as more than graffiti. In order to make the area more welcoming they have been working tirelessly to raise the funds needed to have the alley paved in a unique way that looks like it's been laid with brick.

Local business owners have supported the project by donating $15,000 to support the specialized paving. The remaining $6,000 came from the city.

Walter Albasi, Local Businessman

"We think it's something that can be done quickly and cheaply and that it will bring a few more people downtown. And that can make a difference right now, today. It can make a big difference in the next couple of weeks to some of the businesses."

Doug Watson, a tourist from Miami, says that seeing the local artwork showcases the creativity of the town.

Doug Watson, Tourist

"I think it shows the whole creativity of the town and what the people are all about and it makes it unique, it gives it a unique experience I think."

The alley is due to be paved within the next couple of weeks. Directors of the art alley welcome any artist to display their work. Just remember, respect is the only rule.

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