Someone You Should Know: Creating art for the South Dakota prairie

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Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 7:41 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Porter Sculpture Park has been hosting tourists for more than 20 years. You can’t miss it as you drive just west of Sioux Falls on I-90.

It catches your eye, this place, south of I-90 near the Montrose exit. The Porter Sculpture Park. A winding gravel road will get you there.

“We moved everything out here in the year 2000,” said Wayne.

Wayne Porter is the artist who created this interesting place. The son of a blacksmith bought this section of land, to display the sculptures he makes.

“The pieces I do can take years. The early pieces were made from scrap I just got in my dad’s scrap pile. I have had to cut off mangled steel and I just go to the scrap pile and just grab it and make something out of it. And then I’d go to the dump ground to get hot water tanks. Any more though I just go to Huron to the steel store and pick up what I need,” said Wayne.

Wayne makes sculptures at his home in St. Lawrence which is about 140 miles away. And from mid-May to mid-October he lives right here. The place is open from 7:30 in the morning until dark every day.

“Live in my camper, and pull it back at the end of tourist season. I meet the most interesting people on planet earth here. I meet them from everywhere, Ethiopia, Germany. I’ve had fewer foreigners this year due to the stupid COVID thing but my head goes round and round and they tell me things. And all I meet are travelers,” said Wayne.

Travelers like Carl Graves from Virginia, who’s riding his motorcycle across the county.

“I was looking at Google sights to see in South Dakota, and this popped up. There’s a string of sights on the interstate here. So instead of taking back roads like I normally do, I decided we’ll stop here. And I’m glad I did.” said Carl.

June and Randy Fort are from Knoxville, Iowa.

“I think it’s pretty cool. I can’t imagine the time that he’s spent on this over the years to make it. It’s just beautiful,” said Randy

Porter comes up with the ideas for the sculptures, in his own way.

“It’s my brain arrangement there are images that haunt me and can’t get them out of my head. So I have to get them out of my head. Once they’re out of my head I go onto the next one, it’s not like they leave me alone,” said Wayne.

So he creates those images in the winter months. Some small, others large, like the horse he moved here three years ago.

“We had a 200-ton crane. Took us three days to move it. It was a big tow truck with two semis. They didn’t know they were going to get it out,” said Wayne.

As for the future of the park, Porter plans to continue adding to it.

“Every year I get more tourists. And every year I’m thinking about something monstrous I could build. I’d really like in the future to have a shop where I could hire people to add more monsters, to pump up the jam. I’ve never done drugs in my life, never will, but I need more art in my veins. I can’t get enough of this stupid art thing. Everyone you meet becomes part of yourself, and I meet good people who are in fun mode. This makes me happy, making people happy makes me happy,” said Wayne.

He’ll continue fascinating people from all over the world with his art and his summer life on the South Dakota prairie.

The charge to get into the park is $10 dollars for adults, $5 for ages 13 to 18, with kids 12 and under able to get in for free.

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