Denton Fast Whirlwind is a poly acrylic painter, bead worker, business owner and college instructor who has been practicing and teaching his techniques in his home town of Kyle, South Dakota.
Denton pushes the boundaries of materials when it comes to his painting. His beadwork is kept to a strict period he calls “Reservation Retro” and as a business owner his print shop and fine art gallery are
modestly gaining the attention of well-established artists, collectors and celebrities around the world.
Born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Denton is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and spent his life around artists and fine craftsman. His grandfather was an oil painter and introduced him to canvas and paint, his grandmother is a master beadwork artist and mentored Denton in bead working since early childhood. And his father is a master saddle maker with work in several museums worldwide. Denton’s
family is a major influence on why he has chosen Fine Art as his career.
His formal art training began at the Oglala Lakota College under the guidance of well-establish South Dakota artist, Martin Red Bear. Based on Red Bear’s guidance and Denton’s own artistic goals, he was
selected to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After four years of intensive study, Denton was the first Lakota tribal member to graduate with a BFA in painting from IAIA. Following graduation his studies took him to the University of South Dakota, where he studied painting in the Master’s program for a year before deciding to enter the Native American Art Market full time.
He has been accepted and participated in several prestigious juried art markets throughout the country. Currently, Denton has owns and operates Lakota Print – a print company and art gallery on the Pine Ridge
Indian Reservation in Kyle.
Through Lakota Print, Denton serves a unique mission to provide support, resources and exposure to artists in his community.
Denton has been gaining humble recognition for his narrative, bright, layered, glossy acrylic paintings that explore contemporary Native American existence. His bead work is also attracting a lot of collectors and has been building a strong internet presence on sites like etsy.com and Instagram. His work has been collected worldwide and is part of several important museum permanent collections. The Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, The Red Cloud Heritage Museum, The University of South Dakota, The University of Arkansas, and private collectors from France, Norway, England, Japan, Italy, and Germany own Denton’s artwork.
“When I was real young I had visions of traveling the world and I would cut out pictures of faraway countries and places. Then I would draw horses and Native Americans on the clippings of those places. Now that I look back I can see my visions have come true in a sense. My paintings are hanging on the walls of Castles in France, lawyers’ offices in New York City and Grandmother’s houses in Japan. My spirit of creation has traveled the world and it amazes me every time I think about it.”
Denton’s work can be seen throughout the state of South Dakota, as well. Currently, he’s part of the prestigious show “The Horse Nation of the Oceti Sakowin Exhibition” which is traveling to Pine Ridge,
Rapid City and Brookings. He will be exhibiting his work at the 49th Annual Red Cloud Heritage Show in Pine Ridge in 2017. He is also very proud to be represented at the South Dakota Gallery in Mitchell and NV Studios in Sioux Falls.
50 Artists to Watch is a special project we’re embarking on in celebration of our 50th anniversary at the South Dakota Arts Council. This series of short artist features is intended to share the work of South Dakota artists on a wide platform. It is not intended as a list of top or best artists. It is not presented in any particular order. Featured artists are being selected from nominations sent to us. You can nominate an artist by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t include them all, but we’ll keep all nominations on a list for future features and blogs.
We welcome your continued suggestions for 50 Artists to Watch and your (constructive) comments about the work of those being featured.