LEAD — Artwork with a European flair and Western themes, combined with an eclectic mix of gift ideas are what characterize Lead’s newest gift shop and art gallery — Western Star Wonders and Eric Jones Fine Arts.
From brightly colored buffalo, horses, and birds painted on Swiss and French book pages, to books, bird houses, kites, pictures, and more, there’s something for just about every kind of taste in the shop Miners Tin Cup co-owner Dennis Palczewski decided to open with his cousin, world-renowned artist Eric Jones. The shop’s name, Western Star Wonders, is fitting for the variety in the store, but it’s also a nod to the building’s history.
“This is the oldest non-wood building in Lead,” Palczewski said of the brick building at the end of Lead’s Main Street. “It was built in 1879 and was Western Star Brewery.”
A major focus in the store will be the gallery for Eric Jones Fine Art. Jones’ work spans a wide range of media, including drawings and paintings on antique paper and books, as well as some three-dimensional pieces in wood, stone, and metal. He has traveled throughout the West in South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Texas, New Mexico and California, where his work has been showcased in a multitude of galleries. From California, where Jones worked in a ceramics factory, he grew weary of the “daily grind,” and decided to try the art scene in Europe. It was there where he began painting on antique papers and old books that he found in second-hand stores.
“I would just paint on that stuff while I was traveling,” he said. “People kept buying it, so I kept doing it.”
After spending some time in Europe, Jones said the Black Hills began to call him back. He tried going to Rapid City and other nearby towns, but Lead was where he found his niche.
“If I go to Rapid City or Spearfish or anywhere else, people would ask what I do and I would say I’m a painter.’ They would ask if I paint houses, and I would say ‘I’m an artist.’ Then they’d ask what I do for a living. But in Lead, when I tell people ‘I’m an artist,’ they say ‘oh cool! We need more artists here.’ So, I guess I can hang out here.”
Palczewski, who is originally from North Dakota, said he and his wife retired to Lead and opened Miners Tin Cup in 2019.
“Lead has a very interesting way of bringing people and keeping people here,” he said. “If you’re out in the world, and not sure where you’re supposed to be, come to Lead and you like it here. It’s just a neat place.”
Western Star Wonders and Eric Jones Fine Art gallery will hold its grand opening this Saturday in conjunction with the “Antique and Arts Row” that will be held every second Saturday on Main Street in Lead. The event is intended to showcase the arts and small businesses in Lead, with different themes every month. In May, the theme is Mother’s Day and national “Have a Coke” day.
“In Lead, we have a way of looking at arts in an extensive way,” said Miner’s Tin Cup owner Ammy Deibert, who has helped organize the Antique and Arts Row. “The ‘arts’ term includes a vast array of activities connected to creativity. For instance, the traditional idea of visual art, music, literature, theatre, architecture, poetry, dance, and even yoga is now considered an art form. In the culinary arts even brewing/craft beer are included with gourmet and cultural and traditional examples.”
There are at least 30 different Lead businesses and artists participating in Saturday’s Antique and Arts Row event that is slated to run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with open container offered until 8 p.m.
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