24hrs with a Local

24hrs with a Local: Sun Valley Museum of Art’s Courtney Gilbert, March

In this monthly series, we check in with one of our adventurous locals to find out how they would spend a perfect 24 hours in Sun Valley.

Say hello to long(er) sunny days! March in Sun Valley nudges at the first hints of winter bending toward spring, and the promise of summer just around the corner. Still, it wouldn’t do to wish away this glorious month, when Baldy’s bowls turn into perfect corn conditions and the backcountry skiing and Nordic trails are on point.

For this 24hrs in Sun Valley March edition, we caught up with Courtney Gilbert, Curator of Visual Arts at the Sun Valley Museum of Art (SVMoA). SVMoA, formerly called the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, is dedicated to enriching the community through transformative arts and education experiences. In her role, Courtney organizes multi-artist, thematic exhibitions that usually relate to SVMoA’s BIG IDEA projects, which “ask timely questions and investigate them through art, music, theatre, conversation, and workshops.” 

The latest exhibition, on display at the SVMoA (191 Fifth Street East, Ketchum) through April 16, 2021, is titled “Deeds Not Words: Women Working for Change.” This multidisciplinary curation coincides with the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US constitution, which nationally gave women the right to vote. 

“I love learning about art and artists and how they see the world,” says Courtney. “One of my favorite parts of my job is commissioning projects and bringing artists here to see the Valley through fresh eyes and through the lens of whatever subject matter we are tackling.”

Over the past year, the SVMoA has pivoted its programming to meet the times, including developing online content, doing digital exhibition tours, and live streaming artist talks. The Museum is also open for free, in-person, small group exhibition tours on Thursday nights (reservations required) and offers private tours by request.

How would Courtney enjoy a perfect 24 hours in Sun Valley? Let’s find out.

What would you do first on your perfect March day?

I would definitely start with a coffee. I’m not a big breakfast eater, so I’d probably skip that. 

Like many families across the country, we wound up getting a dog during COVID. We live near the Draper Wood River Preserve, so I’d take the dog for a walk through the neighborhood and into the Preserve. It’s beautiful year-round.

What’s up next?

I’m a huge fan of the Wood River Trail. In March, you don’t know if you will be cross-country skiing or cycling on it; it depends on the weather and trail conditions. So, I’d either ride or ski it—whichever one is possible. 

One of the things that I love about the trail is how it connects the communities in the Valley. There’s art along it, too, like the solar system scale model that someone spray-painted and the planets from science fiction books. 

There’s also the sculpture Spur, which our Artistic Director, Kristin Poole, and I co-commissioned with the City of Ketchum from artist John Grade. It’s inspired by Craters of the Moon and is modeled on an actual lava tube. It’s next to the bike path in Ketchum and also links to the history of the railroad. The sculpture’s wooden ribs are the width of railroad ties, and there are tracks on the side that hold the structure together.

What would you do for lunch?

If it were a Friday, I’d get takeout from Rickshaw. It’s kitty-corner from SVMoA and a Friday treat. I love the Chiang Mai Curry Noodles.

[Editor’s note: Rickshaw offers dinner takeout Tuesday – Sunday, and lunch takeout on Friday]

How would you enjoy the afternoon?

We have fantastic art galleries in Ketchum. I have had the chance to work with several artists represented by different local galleries. So, I’d visit galleries in the afternoon and see which shows they have up, get ideas for my own exhibitions, and look for places where any of the artists showing in town might link to a project that I’m working on. 

Do you have a favorite genre of art?

I’m always interested in art that’s driven by ideas. Often, the content is more interesting to me than the form. I also love geometric abstraction, especially from the early 20th century. Anytime I see geometry, I’m instantly drawn to it.

Any other activities for your afternoon?

I would try to get a quick ski on one of the Nordic trails in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA). I grew up classic skiing and switched to skate skiing as a teenager. I just got back into classic, and it’s so fun to re-learn it.

Any happy hour for you?

If I made it up to the SNRA to go skiing, I would have a beer at Galena Lodge. Ideally, it’d be sunny, and I’d sit outside. If I’m back in Hailey, the Power House is my go-to place. They have a nice new fire pit in the back. I’d grab a beer with some friends and my husband, Jim Keating.

What would you do for dinner?

During the pandemic, we’ve tried to help support the local economy through regular takeout orders. We have takeout from Dangs almost every weekend. My favorite dish there is the yellow curry with tofu. 

Anything you would do to finish up your perfect 24hrs in Sun Valley – March day?

One of the pandemic’s unexpected plusses is the ability to watch digital talks and lectures. I’ve taken advantage of that more than I ever thought that I would. The SVMoA talks have all been really great, and both The Community Library (in Ketchum) and the Hailey Public Library have been doing timely digital programs. I’m a big fan of continuing to get arts and culture through the platforms that the pandemic has made more available to us.

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