The Art Center was founded in 2001 in memorial of artist Suzie Cappa. We began with the vision to provide a supportive, inspiring environment for artists of all abilities. Our first space was a storage room turned classroom with no sink and only one part-time instructor. Thanks to our benefactors, fundraising, and staff support, we have grown from that tiny space to two large centers with five full-time employees.
In 2009 we received a generous anonymous donation of $500,000 to establish our downtown location. This has allowed the artists to be a part of the downtown community and for them to establish themselves as a part of the rapidly growing arts and culture scene of Rapid City. This donation was supplemented by property donation from Pia Wilkens to the BHW Foundation valuing $580,000 and another $300,000 in community donations to purchase the whole corner of real estate. Allowing for five leased storefronts to help support our ongoing operations.
Our downtown location opened in March of 2013 with 20 full-time artists. Since opening we have grown to 24 full-time and 4 part-time artists who have a wide variety of mediums available to allow for their work to develop and expand. Each artist has the option to sell his/her work under contract. Between both of our centers we currently have 130 contracted artists showing and selling their work along with 30 Community artists.
Suzie’s Royal Tea is our largest and most well known annual event. The event honors the Artist of the Year, an artist who has been dedicated to his/her art, and for whom art has had a positive impact. Community members attend the Tea as a way to contribute to and support the Art Center and Gallery. The proceeds help us to further the artist’s educations, bring in teaching artists, and purchase equipment for the center.
The original location on Range Road holds space for 20 full-time artists who receive support with health, personal care, and medications during the day. The Range Road location allows space for many other part-time artists to take classes when they are able. Classes are offered daily as a part of the Learning Institute. They also provide monthly art classes for the Rapid City School Transitions program and BHW Brain Injury Program.
One of the most popular music activities is weekly karaoke which gives everyone the chance to be a star. Artists are offered music classes at the Range Road location and we also help people take music lessons at Rock School next to the downtown Suzie Cappa Art Center.
Dance and theatre are also available to the artists. Black Hills Community Theatre, Barefoot Dance Studio, and Flutter Productions have put on a total of six mixed ability pieces that some of the artists have participated in. Several artists also performed in “Dakota Dreams” as part of the grand opening for Main Street Square.
We rely heavily on volunteers to assist staff and support the artists. We currently have 16 community volunteers between the two studios. Artists utilize donated materials from families and businesses in many of their artworks.
The gallery is filled with creativity and beauty thanks to the dedication of the artists receiving services and our Community Artists. Every four months one artist is featured with a time-lapsed video of them working, which is played alongside a display of their artwork. We also hold a monthly public Art Night to highlight the artists.
Suzie Cappa Art Center believes:
Disability is not a boundary. All people can be creative in a supportive environment.
Creative expression fosters personal growth and self-esteem. Recognition of creative efforts by others gives the artist a feeling of worth that carries over into all areas of his/her life.
Exhibitions, which integrate the work of artists with and without disabilities, help others see past preconceived notions of disability and begin to honor the creative spirit of every person.
Creating art professionally adds value to one’s life. Through the cultivation of their talents, people with disabilities make contributions to the cultural and economic life of our community
People from all over the world have visited the art center. We have shipped pieces to customers in many cities throughout the United States. International customers from Japan, Isreal, France, and Italy have traveled home with artwork as well. Many people who have visited the gallery have left testimonials in our guest book.
Here are a few:
Hottest gallery in town – Kenny Putman
Beautiful art, I will go home and tell everyone about you – Netherlands
Amazing art. Thank you for sharing this wonderful talent. – Cari Meadows
Very inspiring beautiful art! – Julia H. Ontario, Canada
Thank you for finding the artist in everyone! – Jessica Baxter
Good work here. – Peter Coombs Liverpool, England
Inspiring to an aspiring artist. – Zoe R. Sauk Rapids, MN
Outstanding! – The Kiefers Carmi, IL
Very nice stop on our trip. Good Luck – Anton and Freya Frerhert Germany
722 St. Joseph Street
Rapid City, SD 57701