Dakota Life 25 | A conversation with Joshua Spies
This article is from the December 2022 issue of SDPB Magazine. See the full issue HERE.
Joshua Spies is an artist based in Sioux Falls. Growing up in Watertown, he got his start sketching prairie waterfowl. Nowadays, collectors seek him out for his wildlife paintings settings as diverse as Tanzania, Mongolia and Tajikistan.
Dakota Life featured Joshua's work back in 1999. He's circled the globe a few times and expanded his subject matter in exotic locales. We caught up with him again as we look back at 25 years of Dakota Life.
SDPB: Who influenced you as a young artist?
Joshua Spies: I'm originally from Watertown. Terry Redlin, John Green and John Wilson were all kind of mentors. I would paint with John Green from time to time. I would hang out with John Wilson at his studio, and the same with Terry Redlin. When I had questions on projects and things I was working on they all always had open doors.
SDPB: Does it surprise you looking back, that a kid from Watertown would have those kind of mentors?
Joshua Spies: Yes. God works in strange ways. If I had grown up somewhere else, I'm sure I would have still had the same motivation to do what I'm doing. It is kind of strange two of them, Terry Redlin and John Wilson are from Watertown and John Green is from Madison, which is not very far away.
SDPB: Did you have certain spots where you would observe local wildlife?
Joshua Spies: Yes, I did a lot of photography. In a small community it didn't take long to get outside of town. I've traveled the world working on a lot of projects and different things from different continents. But it's kind of funny cause now I'm getting more interested in doing projects on things around here.
SDPB: What were some of your first subjects?
Joshua Spies: Birds. The usual like pheasants and ducks, geese and songbirds. That sort of material from the region.
SDPB: How did COVID affect how you worked?
Joshua Spies: It shut everybody down. I don't really do any shows anymore, at all. It's mostly through private people that have been collecting work for a while or word of mouth.
SDPB: What places stand out in your travels?
Joshua Spies: I love Africa. I love the people there. Mongolia is another one. Just seeing how their culture is, it's just fascinating to me.