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Immerse Yourself: Sun Valley's Artist-in-Residence Scene

Raine Kidder's picture
Raine Kidder

“Choose only one master—Nature.” – Rembrandt

There must be something in the water. Ever since Sun Valley was put on the map by the Union Pacific Railroad as a ski destination, artists have been attracted to the town that lies within the majestic shadows of the Majestic Boulder, Pioneer and Sawtooth Mountains. Writers, performers, painters, sculptors and photographers have all been lured to the area. From its inception, Sun Valley has been an artist’s enclave. Wonder around town and you will see galleries and bookstores full of inspiration that comes from the Wood River Valley.

The Inspiring Views of Sun Valley, Idaho - Artist in Residence Program

Artist in residence programs offer artists the opportunity to experience and explore a place intimately, where they can live and create on sight in an awe inspiring venue. Artists can be inspired by many things and the beauty of the natural world has always been a willing muse. A sunrise over the Sawtooth Mountain range, sunsets on Silver Creek, wild rivers and even wilder horses, all here to inspire and entice artists to Idaho. Thus, Ketchum and the surrounding area are ripe for artistic creation. And a number of artist in residence programs here do just that.

Inspiration view of the Sun Valley, Idaho area - Sun Valley Artist in Residence Program

Ernest Hemingway was so inspired by the Wood River Valley that he made a home here, as have his children and grandchildren. The Community Library in Ketchum recently acquired Hemingway’s home in Warm Springs for their artist in residence program. Writers will be able to stay in the converted three-car garage, look out over the Big Wood River and let inspiration rise, as the world-class trout have been doing for eons in the river that flows in front of the house and through the valley. Keep an eye out for talks the writers in residence will give at the library on the work and experience derived from their time in the valley.

Hemingway House - Ketchum Idaho - Community Library - Writer in Residence Programphoto via the Ketchum Community Library

The Sun Valley Center for the Arts is a multi-disciplinary arts organization that brings to the valley a variety of performing arts, including, year round concerts, The Writer’s Conference, plays and lectures, as well as rotating art exhibitions in the gallery space on Fourth and Washington. Neil degrasse Tyson, David Sedaris, Garrison Keeler, Sir Salma Rushdie and countless others, have come courtesy of The Center, as it is locally referred to. Artist’s in residence can stay in the restored home of poet Ezra Pound, 10 miles south in Hailey.

Sun Valley Center for the Arts
photo via the Sun Valley Center for the Arts

Don’t call it a residency. Relative newcomer Michael Liener, owner of Aurobora, a fine art gallery in Ketchum that opened its doors in 2014, is not comfortable with that term. Rather, he sees the experience as collaboration.  Liener has created a unique setting for the artists who come to the program that he sponsors.  In a beautiful, turn of the century barn, set in a picturesque valley 12 miles south of Ketchum, Liener has created a studio complete with printmaking materials. Offering the artists solitude, collaboration and experimentation. Liener feels that by experimenting with printmaking techniques, artists are unshackled by the restraints of the familiar, allowing for renewed inspiration. Pieces created in the program are then curated and exhibited at his gallery in downtown Ketchum.

Aurobora Artist in Residence Programphoto via: Sun Valley Magazine

And it is not just implants that feel the creative spirit that runs far and wide. With a large community of artists living and working in the area you can see the artistic endeavors of the locals, inspired by the environment and beauty around us, reflected through plays, concerts and galleries throughout the valley.



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