By: Emily Bunn
A keystone of Ketchum’s community, the iconic Sun Valley Museum of Art (SVMoA) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The museum is inviting the public to experience the joy of music and the arts to celebrate the momentous occasion. In past years, SVMoA has hosted 52 Grammy-Award winning artists, featured notable lecturers and visual artists, and awarded over $1 million in arts scholarships to local students and teachers. SVMoA’s Artistic Director, Kris Poole, sat down with 360 Magazine to talk about upcoming summer classes at the museum, the current BIG IDEA exhibition, and future plans for expansion.
SVMoA is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer! Are any special performances lined up to commemorate this momentous occasion?
Clay, Silver, Ink: Sun Valley Center at 50, was on exhibit at The Museum from May through July.
The exhibition is guest-curated by artists Jim Romberg, Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ Director of Ceramics from 1973 to 1986, and Peter de Lory, who began teaching in 1974 and was Director of Photography from 1976 to 1979 and during the summers of 1982 and 1983.
Clay, Silver, Ink features artwork by 60 photographers, ceramic artists and printmakers, as well as several painters, who led classes and workshops at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts during the organization’s first 15 years. Many of the labels will include quotes from the artists that reflect on their experience at The Museum. A slide show of student work and snapshots from the era was also included in the exhibition.
SVMoA’s 50th Celebration & Birthday Concert will take place on August 26 and feature Pink Martini with China Forbes.
Pink Martini is led by the dynamic and hyperenergetic Thomas Lauderdale. The group’s repertoire is inspired by music from around the world and crosses genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop. With 12 musicians onstage and songs performed in 25 languages, Pink Martini has crisscrossed the globe and has played with more than 70 orchestras.
Lauderdale’s co-conspirator in the band is his Harvard classmate, China Forbes. A year after starting the band, Lauderdale invited Forbes to join Pink Martini, and they began penning songs together. Since then, Forbes and Lauderdale have co-written many of Pink Martini’s most beloved songs, including “Sympathique,” “Lilly,” “Clementine,” and “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love.” Forbes’ original song “Hey Eugene” is the title track of Pink Martini’s third album, and many of her songs can also be heard on television and film.
The concert will be a special one, starting with a look back at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ 50 years and a look ahead to SVMoA’s next 50. SVMoA will share memories and birthday cupcakes and asks everyone to come dressed for a party.
Is SVMoA offering any summer workshops or adult classes?
Yes! We offered 22 adult classes last year, and we plan to expand that programming throughout 2021 and into 2022. Classes range from one-night craft series workshops to creative jump-ins and week-long master class intensives. This summer, we offered the following courses:
Craft Series Workshop:
THREE COLOR REDUCTION PRINTS
Craft Series Workshop
CERAMIC TRANSFORMATION VESSELS
A THOUSAND WORDS: Guided Writing about the Art You See
Craft Series Workshop
CAPTURING THE BEST PHOTOS ON YOUR IPHONE
NO-WASTE LEATHER BAG
SUN VALLEY STONES: Oil painting
BUILDING LAYERS WITH OIL AND COLD WAX
How many students are currently in SVMoA’s art education program and k-12 education program this year?
SVMoA serves nearly 4,000 students through four unique arts education programs over the course of a year, reaching every child in Blaine County. Some programs happen in school classrooms, others in the museum space or performance halls. SVMoA’s student participants come from every public and private school in the Wood River Valley.
SVMoA features “BIG IDEA” projects. What does the BIG IDEA represent?
The BIG IDEA was designed to allow our community to enter into the conversation through a variety of avenues. If you are interested in going to see a film, or listening to a lecture, we hope the program content piques your curiosity enough to get you to visit the exhibition in The Museum or take a class that will allow you to go deeper into the subject. BIG IDEAs run the gamut from serious subjects like Refugees and/or Gender in the 21st century, to lighter fare that explores subjects, like the important role that bees or bicycles play in our world. Artists make art about the world they live in, and more often than not, what is on their minds is a topic we should be paying attention to as well. We have the opportunity to use the BIG IDEA model to engage people in ideas that matter. The art on exhibition, the music, films, lectures, discussions are all fodder for some pretty interesting conversations.
Why did SVMoA choose to display “Untrammeled: At Wilderness’ Edge” as the museum’s current big idea project?
As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we wanted to explore a BIG IDEA that had specific resonance with our local community. Because Sun Valley is a mountain resort town whose very existence owes its debt to the wilderness, we felt reexamining the premise of the 1964 Wilderness Act was an important effort.
At the time that we began talking with artists we had no idea that at this moment the topic would hold particular urgency. Our community, like many others in the mountain west, is experiencing an explosion of tourism and new residents. The exhibition and BIG IDEA grapple with what it means to live on the edge of and with wild places—how do we respect people’s need to be in the wilderness with our need to preserve and protect that very space? How should our idea of “managing” wilderness change/evolve?
We are so pleased to be engaged in the discussion through the work of 4 powerful artists, all of whom have international reputations, and two of whom we commissioned to do new work for this project. Adding talks by journalist Kevin Fedarko and curator Jock Reynolds only enriches the conversation.
Who is the next speaker in the museum’s lecture series? Why was this speaker chosen?
As part of the next BIG IDEA project Untrammeled: At Wilderness’ Edge, SVMoA will welcome journalist Kevin Fedarko, award-winning author of “The Emerald Mile” as our first speaker of the 2021/2022 fall/winter season. Fedarko’s book on the The Emerald Mile, with the subtitle The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon, chronicles both the complex story of the Canyon’s environmental history, as well as the compelling story of how a couple river and wilderness junkies took the fastest boat ride ever down the Colorado River during the legendary flood of 1983. At this moment in 2021 when we are grappling how best to live on the edge of wilderness, this book and Fedarko’s tale beautifully illustrates the complicated nature of our relationship with wild places.
Jock Reynolds is a nationally respected curator and artist who served as the Director of the Yale University Art Gallery from 1998 to 2018. He has worked closely with Mark Klett, one of the artists in the Untrammeled exhibition, and is keenly interested in the role that art plays in shaping our national discussions. Jock will be in conversation with Mark Klett and Laura McPhee about their commissioned artworks.
Sandra Cisneros is one of the United States most important poets and writers. She is best known for her evocation of Mexican American life in Chicago. “The House on Mango Street,” written in 1983, continues to be taught in classrooms throughout the country. Cisneros has been invited to participate in SVMoA’s lecture series to speak to the value and richness of cross-cultural experiences. As a woman and a writer Cisneros beautifully explores the experience of being connected to both the US and to Mexico. There are so many members of our community and so many people in our country who share this relationship. We look forward to welcoming Cisneros to this community at this moment of growth and transition.
How do the three SVMoA spaces– The Museum, The Liberty Theatre, and the Hailey House and Classroom – each operate? What is each space’s function?
Sun Valley Museum of Art is non-collecting museum that is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (one of only five institutions in Idaho). SVMoA offers free admission and is open to the public throughout the year. Its downtown Ketchum location allows stop-by visitors as well as event and exhibition attendees to explore and experience art firsthand—both through visual art exhibitions and hands-on immersive education opportunities.
The Liberty Theatre
The former home of the Company of Fools, the historic The Liberty Theatre is centrally located on Main Street in Hailey, Idaho. The theatre is currently closed, awaiting some needed renovations.
The Hailey House and Classroom
The historic Hailey House, birthplace of American poet Ezra Pound, is open to visitors by appointment and during scheduled events. The house is frequently used to house visiting artists, teachers and musicians. The Hailey Classroom is open for adult, teen and youth classes and workshops during scheduled programs.
The museum is in the process of constructing a new building as well. How does SVMoA plan to use their new space?
Sun Valley Museum of Art needs expanded facilities. Currently we are not able to meet the community need for everything from classes to lectures to exhibition tours so we are actively seeking the right opportunity to build or renovate a new space. The community deserves to have a museum that can be a point of pride and meets the needs of today’s families and students as well as our growing and diverse community. As the cornerstone of Wood River Valley’s rich and diverse arts and culture scene, SVMoA is eager to develop a state-of-the-art facility that will engage more people on a deeper level, create more immersive experiences, and ensure accessibility for everyone in our community.
SVMoA operates as an arts education nonprofit. How can interested patrons support the arts?
SVMoA’s annual programs are supported in large part by its more than 1,200 members. When you join as a SVMoA member, you don’t just support your own arts experience; you support arts access for all. Your membership fee pays it forward so your fellow community members can experience the arts—the joy, the wonder, the inspiration, and the healing.
SVMoA’s annual Wine Auction welcomes friends, families, arts supporters, vintners and chefs to celebrate and support the arts each summer. The 2021 Wine Auction wrapped in mid-July and raised more than $1 million for arts education with the help of more than 350 attendees.
BIG IDEAS and major program support comes from memberships, individual donations, private foundations and public and private grants.
Regarding COVID-19, does the museum require guests to purchase tickets in advance online, or can visitors purchase tickets upon arrival?
SVMoA’s museum space is free and open to the public. SVMoA classes and events typically require advance registration and/or ticket purchase (as events can sell-out), but SVMoA will in general welcome walk-up attendees and participants if space allows.
At The Museum walk-in visitors are always welcome! If you’d like to learn more about the artwork in the exhibition, we invite families and small groups for private tours with The Museum’s curators. To schedule a tour please contact us at 208.726.9491 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Featured artwork by Laura McPhee