When Lauren Good Day (Arikara, Hidatsa, Blackfeet and Plains Cree) saw an open retail location in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota, she immediately envisioned what it could be.
“I always wanted to have a gallery setting,” said Good Day, who moved to Rapid City from Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Indigenous liberal studies at the Institute of American Indian Art.
Good Day, 27, is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes—Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara—of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. She is a three-time First Peoples Fund fellow, including two Artist in Business Leadership fellowships. She has also participated in First Peoples Fund's Native Artist Professional Development Training Program, the Train the Trainer Program, and most recently, led an arts business workshop on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as part of a partnership with First Peoples Fund, Lakota Funds, and Artspace.
Good Day and her sister, Vanessa Frank, and her mother, Deborah Painte, opened Sage and Silver Americana at 629 Main Street in downtown Rapid City in October. Half of the store features Good Day's artwork as well as local and national artists. The other half features fine western wear that incorporates Native iconography and tribal prints.
“A full gallery is hard to do here because the arts market is still being developed,” Good Day said. “So, I incorporated my two loves—artwork and fashion.”
The store is not only important because it offers the Black Hills a quality art gallery, but it also gives Native artists a voice. “It’s extremely important,” she said. “Here we represent contemporary Native American artwork. We focus on our culture and lives today. We have a younger generation of artists and I wanted to give a voice to that younger generation.”
The store also offers space for traditional artwork, which Good Day says best describes her work. From a ranching family, Good Day said she enjoys highlighting western life, particularly from the standpoint that Native culture has evolved during the years.
“It’s the new west,” she said. “We have careers and ranches.”
The artwork, as well as the clothing, reflects that. “It’s bright and vibrant and has different techniques going on,” she said.
Having the support of First Peoples Fund has been an important foundation in her work.
“They really did help me at the beginning of my career,” she said.
As an emerging artist five years ago, Good Day faced the challenge of purchasing the tools and equipment to start. She used funding from First Peoples Fund to purchase the portable walls needed to set up booths at art shows around the country. She also used the funding to purchase a camera and computer, develop a website, and pay for the accounting software and training needed to effectively run a business.
With the second Artist in Business Leadership fellowship, Good Day purchased a printing machine to reproduce her original ledger art drawings. Because the drawings were originals, Good Day felt she was missing customers who couldn’t afford the art.
“I wanted to hit customers at a lower price point,” she said.
The printing machine was invaluable, she said.
Since then, Good Day has shown her artwork at some of the most prestigious Native American juried art shows, including the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico, the Heard Guild Museum Market in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Autry American Indian Arts Marketplace in Los Angeles, California.
“As a Native woman artist, I wanted to share my art with more people,” she said, and both the store and First People Fund have been a great avenue for that. “Without them, I don’t know if I would have achieved where I am at so fast. I really do appreciate them.”