Surprise trove of artwork revealed to the public

Rodney Bode's artwork hits the gallery
Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 7:32 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Sometimes, you find art where you least expect it. And that is certainly the case for a Nisland man who may soon find himself moving up in the art world after some quite unexpected circumstances.

Gallery Six13 owner Jay Pond says, “I find it very wild. I find it emotional and I find it challenging.”

This is the world of Rodney Bode. He was forced from his rural home in Nisland due to schizophrenia affective disorder and dementia. When advocates arrived to help, they didn’t expect what they found.

Black Hills Advocate owner Jenny Schmidt says, “We knew we found something really special. We had no idea what. Walking through and seeing stacks and stacks of paintings and things hanging from the ceilings and paintings on anything he could find to paint on.” Pond says, “It was incredible. We just walked into a house full of this.”

What they found was 250 paintings and 40 sculptures, from a man no one knew was an artist. The paintings were dated as far back as 1981 and as late as 2003 and some sculptures may have come after that. Self-taught, the body of work documents Rodney’s journey through life.

Schmidt says, “I think it was his number one outlet and coping mechanism and also a way for him to document his life experiences through his artwork.” Pond says, “There’s a lot of craziness going on in his art and I use that term in a positive way. Really wild, really inspiring emotional imagery coming through in his art.”

Now that artwork has found its way into Gallery Six13 in Rapid City, with plans for a show in New York. It’s been described as outsider art and Rodney Bode may now find himself making waves inside the art world.

Pond says, “Definitely since the early 1900′s, the outsides, the real people removed from the mainstream of society have always produced interesting art. And for some reason right now there’s a real resurgence of outsider art interest and it’s quite hip.”

Bode is now 80 years old. The proceeds from the sales of his artwork are set to help pay for his care. Gallery Six13 is having a show Friday night until 8:00. And they’ll be doing the same next Friday night from 5:00 to 8:00 and they’ll be showing a documentary on his work at 6:30 each night.

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