The Art Of Summer

Yankton Area Arts’ Meridian en Blanc is returning after a one-year hiatus due to construction near the Meridian Bridge. It is also returning to the pedestrian bridge after being held briefly at Memorial Park.

As summer approaches, Yankton Area Arts (YAA) is beginning to bustle with warm-weather activity, with plans in the works for exhibits, concerts and summer events for people of all ages.

Currently, the wildlife art of South Dakotan Adam Oswald is on display in YAA’s GAR Hall. Though that exhibit ends on May 28, YAA’s summer season begins that day with the Kids Art Fest and the first summer band concert.

“We kick off our summer programming with Kids Art Fest, which is free arts and crafts projects for elementary-age kids, which they can make and take with them,” said Julie Amsberry executive director of YAA. “That will be in Riverside Park in the picnic shelter with the new red roof.”

The event, which is in its 28th year, runs from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, and usually draws 200-250 families. Kids Arts Fest is a collaborative effort with dozens of community organizations participating, she said.

“Right after that, we have our first concert of the Yankton Summer Band Concert Series,” Amsberry said. “The Yankton Area Summer Band will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the amphitheater in Riverside Park to rehearse for the concert and then perform at 8 p.m. every Tuesday.”

The Yankton Area Summer Band is a 70- to 100-piece, all-volunteer band comprised of students and adults from in and around Yankton.

“They will be performing from May 28-July 2, and then we hire bands to come in and do a pops concert,” Amsberry said. “We have some new bands that we haven’t seen in Yankton before, so we are excited about that.”

The pops concerts are scheduled on July 9, 16, 23 and 30 at the Riverside Park amphitheater, but in case of inclement weather, all concerts will be held at the Summit Activities Center Theater, at 1801 Summit Street. Late changes due to weather will be announced on Facebook, Instagram and local media.

Beginning May 31, the landscape art of Tom Roper will be on display at GAR Hall in an exhibit called “In Plain Sight” in acknowledgement of the big air, big land, far horizons and everyday objects that we often no longer “see” because they are ordinary images and constantly with us, according to the artist.

“He has some paintings from the area and he is a new artist that has not been in our gallery before,” Amsberry said. “It’s interesting; he’ll have a field with a topographic view of the field, and then on top of it you see it horizontally so you can see how they combine.”

YAA has new exhibits every five to six weeks all year long, she added.

This summer, the annual YAA Meridian en Blanc fundraiser returns on July 20. Last year’s Meridian en Blanc was cancelled due to construction activity around Meridian bridge.

“We are making a few changes this year,” Amsberry said. “We will be doing a silent auction for the artwork that is created on the bridge and we are letting people choose a wine to purchase instead of us choosing for them.

“It will be a fun night again. It’s always lovely on the bridge and everyone is dressed in white. We have lights hanging from the bridge, we watch the sun set; there’s music, there’s art. It includes a meal and a lovely evening.”

Tickets for Meridian en Blanc go on sale Monday.

Beginning July 1-5 from 1-5 p.m. (YAA is closed for July 4), YAA will be accepting photo submissions for the Mighty Mo Photo Competition and Exhibit, an event designed to complement Yankton’s annual Riverboat Days celebration and Summer Arts Festival (Aug. 16-18) and recognize local talents in photography.

The Mighty Mo exhibit will be displayed in GAR Hall July 12-Aug. 27.

“The theme is ‘The Five Elements,’” Amsberry said. “People can choose one element or all five elements as they compose their pieces.”

Winners of the competition will be announced at the Mighty Mo Artist Reception on Friday, Aug. 2, from 5-7 p.m. The People’s Choice Award will be announced at the end of the exhibit.

“Other than our fundraiser, the programming is free,” Amsberry said. “It’s free to come into the gallery to see an exhibit; it’s free to go to the band concerts at the amphitheater; (Kids Art Fest) is free. That meets our mission to enrich Yankton with the arts.”

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