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August 26, 2014 10:12 PM

Disconnecting To Reconnect

Sioux Falls, SD

You know you have found your passion in life when you say something like this:

"(I) can't even remember not being an artist," Nancyjane Huehl said.

Brilliant blues and radiant reds are just an extension of Huehl.  You can see it in her work.

"I see things in color, primarily," Huehl said.

The South Dakota artist, noted for her oil paintings, spends much of her time at her studio on 8th Street in Sioux Falls.  But lately, she says busy life in the city has made her work a bit flat.

"When you're in a city, sometimes the skies appear more putty than colorful," Huehl said.

That's why Huehl seeks refuge in the beautiful country scenery at The Retreat at Pointer's Ridge.

"What I was missing was seeing the light, hearing nature, seeing the skyscapes that I loved to paint," Huehl said.

The chance to be in tune with your creative self is the main purpose of The Retreat at Pointer's Ridge.  Resting along the Big Sioux River, near Baltic, 23 acres of woods, green space, and winding dirt roads are far enough away to block out the noise.  This includes most cellphone service.

"Getting out here, I get to hear my own voice again.  And hear that universal voice speaking to us.  Just the sense of getting to pause and be quiet and kind of be in touch with your own rhythm," Huehl said.

Pointer's Ridge didn't always look like a postcard.

"The way we found it was pretty scary," Deb Klebanoff, owner, said.

Klebanoff and her husband discovered this land after they built their house nearby.  Klebanoff said it was camp for children with special needs for 40 years before it sat unattended and untouched for seven years.  The work paid off for this labor of love.

"It's the type of place that Thoreau went to when he wrote Walden's Pond," Klebanoff said.

As the director of the Sioux Empire Arts Council for eight years, Klebanoff saw a need for this type of retreat.  People can come here for a day, and eventually even live here -- as Huehl does, to work on painting, writing, sculpting, gardening, meditation.  Klebanoff says there really is no limit. 

Facebook, Twitter, and smartphones are just some of the tools that allow us to be connected to anyone and everyone -- 24/7.  However, Klebanoff notes this leaves many of us feeling disconnected and drained.  She has met many people hoping to get back to nature.  

"People have told me we just need to work on our budget for a couple of days.  Just get away.  Come down here, and again, you have that time of peace and quiet," Klebanoff said.

Pointer's Ridge primarily runs on donations and a lot of hard work.  She's grateful for volunteers including employees from CitiBank, Wells Fargo and Lifescape School for shaping this place up.

"It makes me glad in heart to see that she's following a dream and that she's willing to do this for the arts community and that she does get volunteers out here to assist her with that.  It's something she believes in.  I'm very proud to be part of that," Huehl said.

Years from now, Klebanoff hopes to expand and evolve The Retreat at Pointer's Ridge, so people from all over can continue to come here to tap into nature at its best.

"Some day.  Maybe even while we're still around to see it," Klebanoff said.

If you look at Huehl's studio, you can see nature's influence -- even in her paintings of city structures. 

"The color is coming back," Huehl said.

The brilliance and radiance of The Retreat at Pointer's Ridge now follow Huehl wherever she goes.

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