Rapid City, SD
There's an alley, tucked away in downtown Rapid City that if you don't know is there, you could easily just walk right by. It contains thousands of little pieces of a big picture.
Six years ago Todd Rigione began painting the walls in the basement of the Presidents Building in downtown Rapid City. One day they became to confining and he said it was time to take it out back.
"There was some profanity that was painted out there and I convinced my girlfriend, Judy, to go out there with me and we started painting an image, and we just started painting one night," Rigione said.
Rigione said it wasn't fast, and it wasn't easy, but six years later that simple act of covering up some graffiti, turned into Art Alley. It’s tucked away, hidden behind the normal paths that we usually take. Rigione says it was a hope, a dream, and now thousand of pieces of art come together in a grand masterpiece.
"It does combine energies of people from young to old, a lot of people are against it or for it, but they all seem to walk through and look, I like that," Rigione said.
Many people walk through the alley in awe.
"I've never seen an alley like this, ever, I didn't know it existed I guess, it's neat, it's really cool," Brittany Scott, and onlooker of the ally, said.
Scott said she was glad to see an outlet like this for artists, with something new around every corner.
"Its so different, there's not something that's exactly the same, its everybody coming to, I guess, what they feel or what they think or what they like to draw," Scott said.
Marion Grote is on the Rapid City Arts Council, she says the alley can be a lot to take in, but you just have to slow down, and look.
"When you first go through it there's so much to see it's kind of a noisy place, but if you start studying the intricacies of it that the people have really put down here, you'll find there is a lot of expression down here in different manners," Grote said.
It's unknown exactly how many artists have contributed to Art Alley, because anybody can come and paint almost anything they want.
"The rules are like, you know, act efficient, clean up, do something that isn't offensive to people and try to have some respect, but there is no rules about what art you're painting over or what you take, people take canvases and take them home I guess," Rigione said.
Rigione says it's that policy that's really keeping the alley alive.
"The no rules thing really does allow people to get out there, and it's constantly changing and I think that's a huge part of the attraction, the heartbeat of the alley," Rigione said.
Grote says the alley also offers something that might go unseen around Rapid City.
"I'm originally from New York, and when I'm down here and I look at this, I don't see graffiti in any other parts of town, it's just a wonderful place and a wonderful thing for the city to do," Grote said.
"It gives people a place to go and make art, so they're not having to make it on the building out and about," Scott said.
The future brush strokes for Art Alley are unknown but Rigione says he will be happy with whatever path the ally takes, and as an artist, he couldn't ask for anything more.
"The best art is when you get to set yourself free and you can do something for yourself. So Art Alley kind of presents itself as a canvas for an artist that says it's not about money, it's not about the next sell, its like how do I create something that I'm willing to put up there and leave and walk away and feel good about, I mean that's huge," Rigione said.
Art Alley will be adding around thirty pieces of art over the next week that they received from Harvest Productions out of Atlanta. So if you’re interested in checking it out, there will many new pieces to look at.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.