Art in the City

The Best Gallery in Town

When people talk about art in Sioux City, two things come immediately to mind. The first thought is, “You’re new here, aren’t you?” The second is the city’s most active art gallery, conveniently located on bridges and brick walls throughout the neighborhood.

Let me walk you through some of the better pieces and the styles they represent.


As you can see by the piece above, the main emphasis is on clarity. Simple lines and simple, clean strokes make this easy to take in at a glance. The use of a single color gives the impression of being rushed, of lurking in abandon parking lots in the middle of the night. The point of this piece is immediately apparent and cannot be mistaken — the Gangster Disciples have marked this abandoned building as their territory, and evidently see value in it. The way the piece is situated on the back wall of the building facing an abandoned parking lot expresses fearlessness — the artist obviously wasn’t afraid of the dark and chose to do his work away from the spotlight and glare of the street.

The Humorously Rich

This example has several elements working for it. Obviously the artist had a keen sense of humor expressed by his redefining the word “stop” as “don’t go.” I laughed the whole time I watched the city crew replace the sign at taxpayer expense. It’s worth it, though. The government needs to support art through subsidies such as giving artists fresh canvases to work with. I really don’t mind my taxes being raised to support art such as this.

Early Stylism

Things start to get interesting with this piece. Note how the color was specifically chosen to contrast with the background? The first thing one might notice is the angularity of the letters, rendering the piece barely legible. This was done on purpose by the artist (obviously a fan of the West Side Locos), and should be considered as an artistic choice made to represent anger — obviously directed at Record Printing Company. One imagines the artist receiving blurry business cards from the printing company and plotting this intricate form of expressing his or her displeasure. Sublimity elegantly rendered.

Sophomore Stylisim

Found prominently hung under a bridge over a drainage canal, this piece represents the next step in stylism. Note the three-dimensional aspect of the letters, giving the impression of solidity. Also pay attention to the subtle shading of the letters. This artist, who is most likely a fan of MS 13, chose to utilize a simple black motif, eschewing any complimentary colors in the pursuit of simplicity. (You’ll notice a common thread of simplicity through ALL the exhibits. It seems being simple is a theme all these particular artists strive to emulate.)

Classic Stylism

This fine piece is notable for two things. The first is the artist’s choice of location. The artist chose to place this piece under a railroad bridge, directly over a foot path where no vehicles can go. This was done not out of fear but rather from the confidence that the audience would go to the work. The second notable aspect of this piece is the classical representation of the letters, carefully and painstakingly drawn. The artist is telling us that for one reason or another, he obviously has time on his hands to complete such a piece. He’s probably wealthy from selling other pieces, I imagine.

The Commentary

This piece, while exhibiting signs of Early Stylism, also offers us another aspect to art. While the fan of the West Side Locos chose white paint to contrast with the bridge the artist chose as a canvas, the fan of MS 13 chose BLACK paint in their comment to the piece. (Note — this is the first example of Commentary, but this is actually the most common subgenre in town. You’ll often see a piece crossed out and redesigned by another artist.) Another aspect of this particular piece is that it’s found on the outside girder of a bridge where it remains unseen by the casual motorist crossing the bridge, but can be seen and enjoyed by neighbors of the bridge for miles around.

The Story

This is the least common style in town, but is impressive when seen, though considered elitist by other artists. The artist is obviously flaunting his or her education by utilizing full words rather than initials. Again, this is rare, and is a difficult thing to accomplish.

All in all, Sioux City has a well-rounded stable of up-and-coming artists, and should be considered one of the midwest’s “hotspots” for this particular genre.

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8 thoughts on “Art in the City

  1. Falwless

    The second and fourth pieces I had to just stand back and study for a while. The depth and pathos within just sort of, I don’t know, struck me. Few and far between are conceptualists able to corner and replicate such sparse human emotion. I found myself even starting to tear up a little. Moving. Truly moving.

    I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for sharing these works.

  2. pistols at dawn

    Tres magnifique! I am jealous of the nascent art scene there, as people in this area have evolved far beyond such simple, primitive, cave-drawing like simplicity. Sure, our wall art may be more “impressive,” or “show basic signs of artisanship,” but it lacks that primal power.

  3. Anonymous

    Wow is all i have to say not because of the [ART]but because of the author of this artical the graffiti is there to show turf not because of anger towrds the company i think this is a joke…

  4. Chris

    “Their turf?” Oh, I thought since the people who owned the property paid several hundred thousand dollars for rights to the land, that kinda made it THEIR turf…

    What sucks is that because Record Printing’s building got tagged about once a week – and it cost around $200 each time to have someone come and sandblast the building, or $10,400 a year – the company had to cut employee benefits. Basically each employee had to pay $1,500 a year for the privilege of having the front of the building spray painted.

    That cost, of course, probably got passed along to the consumer. I don’t know, personally, because I quit working there because they weren’t paying me enough and started my own business, which I moved out of the neighborhood – partially because of the vandalism.

  5. You-Can-Do-It.Org

    Chris, this was a very interesting piece of work. In the end, I guess it worked out for the best for you. One has to wonder if the company cleaning the building was giving a kick back to the gang for tagging it every week. I still live near that area and run thru it occasionally. Fortunately, I haven’t been tagged yet.


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