By Karen Yekel
HOT SPRINGS -- When one first enters the doors to the Morris Grand Gallery in Hot Springs, a sense of awe and wonder take over the senses, with eye-popping color in a painting and jaw-dropping perfection in a bronze casting. There is a hushed sensation that contributes to the vibe created by owner KC Carruthers and her husband, Mike Carruthers. They purchased the gallery, formerly known as the Shaman Gallery, from Adam and Linda Heath of Hot Springs in the spring of 2017.
“We passed through on a rock-hounding trip, to some mines in the Custer area,” said KC, “And we were just blown away by Hot Springs.” The Carruthers noticed there was an actual hot springs at Evans Plunge. “We love the water, and love to swim,” she said. Advance forward another year to another rock-hounding trip, and they found themselves even more in love with Hot Springs.
“We thought this was just an amazing little place,” said KC. They returned to Colorado, and decided to look for a vacation home and discovered the art gallery was for sale. They came back again to soak in the water and enjoy the natural surroundings and beauty of the area. “Six months later we bought the gallery,” she said, “And found a place to live. Everything just fell into place.”
A little history about the building – the Morris Grand Theater was built by Morris Block, a Russian-Jewish immigrant who was a jeweler. At that time Hot Springs was a premiere tourist destination. While Morris died two years after completion of the building, it would live on as the host of opera, theater, vaudeville, and movies.
While some of the art came with the gallery, in addition to traditional paintings, sculptures, watercolors, and assorted media, KC has casted her own identity into the various spaces, including stunning pieces of jewelry, rock and mineral specimens dripping with crystals, handmade display cases, and odes to the gallery’s artist-in-residence, Matt Lanz. Lanz is well known for his Lakota pictographs and sculptures. He can often be found at the gallery on Sundays, and is open to do commission work.
KC is an artist in her own right, with a background in music. “I’m a violinist,” she said, who was also instrumental in establishing three children’s orchestras. She sculpts whimsical pieces that are on display, and also for sale, at the gallery. Two striking pieces on display in the upstairs gallery are sculptures by Anthony Quinn. Yes, THE Anthony Quinn, actor, and sculptor, extraordinaire.
KC said they just recently re-hung all the art in the gallery. “That’s a big job,” she said as she talked about how to transition an installation from one media to another, utilizing color and style. She demonstrated the transition with a Native American installation that was primarily in black and white, in a variety of media, including a Native American woman’s black dress with white beads sewn onto the fabric. This installation segues into Lanz’s pictograph as shown in the photo.
While KC operates the gallery, Mike Carruthers is a consultant in the biotech field in northern Colorado. “He’s also my accountant,” she said. While KC didn’t necessarily have gallery experience, it has become her passion to share with the community, and other art lovers. Longer term plans may include date nights at the gallery, a veterans’ art program, and opening the gallery as a venue for events.
There are many reasons to immerse oneself into art in the best way possible, through sight, sound, textures and other elements, in the Morris Grand Gallery. There are plenty of gift items and KC plans to add more items that will appeal to a broad audience. In the meantime, check out the Morris Grand at 405 N. River St., Hot Springs, SD. They’re open seven days a week at 10am. For more information, check out their website at www.morrisgrandgallery.com or call 605-745-6602.
Karen Yekel /Fall River County Herald
Morris Grand Gallery owner KC Carruthers poses with the artwork of local artist Matt Lanz which is one of the many featured items at 405 N. River Street in Hot Springs.