Mural brings small town together, helps new resident feel at home in Lemmon, SD

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 1:27 PM CDT
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LEMMON, S.D. (KFYR) - Art is everywhere, even in the smallest, most remote parts of the country. That includes the small northwestern South Dakota community of Lemmon.

In fact, there’s a new art piece there that’s larger than life and is bringing the small community together.

“I find inspiration in the outdoors,” said Michael Van Beek, an artist and agronomist living in Lemmon, S.D.

This is the biggest painting Van Beek has ever done. It takes up an entire wall inside the Lemmon Public Library.

“I’m pretty proud of it,” he admitted.

His inspiration: the landscape around his home in northwestern South Dakota, which in some places, looks much the same as it did 200 years ago.

“There are some places where you go where you could do a 360 and then, as long as you didn’t look at your boots, you could be at any time that has ever existed,” said Van Beek.

It took about a year and a half to finish the mural. Turns out, a big project like this is a perfect way to meet people.

“It allowed people to get to know me a little bit more,” he said.

“It’s nice to see him still pursuing his passion,” said Paul Noot, who was Van Beek’s high school art teacher. He isn’t surprised Van Beek is still painting.

“It makes me proud,” Noot said.

Van Beek graduated from Bismarck High School, where he took many art classes and even helped start the Bismarck Downtown Artists Cooperative in 2011. It started with six artists and has now grown to over 100.

“We do a lot of community projects too,” Noot said.

The idea all along was to create an interactive space to bring local artists together and to share art with the community.

“I think art is important for everyone’s daily lives. Art usually speaks you know of who you are as an individual maybe where you’re from where you live,” said Noot.

It’s an idea Van Beek has taken to his new community.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Van Beek.

Because they say art pieces like this might just spark new conversations and bring communities of all sizes together.

Van Beek moved to Lemmon for a job as an agronomist. He didn’t expect to continue his work as an artist, but he’s happy to have that outlet too. You can see his mural inside the Lemmon Public Library. Visit their website for more information.