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The Streets of Sun Valley: An Unexpected Gallery of Art

Jesse Ambrogi-Yanson's picture
Jesse Ambrogio-Yanson

Skiing, sunshine, cowboys and art – yes, art. While Sun Valley, Idaho is a well-known playground for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts, it also provides a canvas for budding and renown artists to share creative inspiration and showcase their projects. Unique to Sun Valley, these masterpieces aren’t all kept inside or in galleries. From painted power boxes to bronze statues that line Fourth Street, here’s a guide to seeing the passionate projects of local and world-recognized artists – for free.

Craters of the Moon Art

Commissioned by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts in conjunction with the City of Ketchum, two sculptures were created as part of the Craters of the Moon National Park Service Centennial and now live permanently in Sun Valley: Spur and Homage to the Limber Pine

John Grade is an internationally renowned sculptor. His creation, Spur, which finds its home along the Wood River Valley bike path, was inspired by the unique geology found in Craters of the Moon. The life-size sculpture is made from Alaskan cedar and was modeled after a digital scan of a lava tube. Visitors can walk through the art piece, simulating the experience of exploring caves within the Craters of the Moon Park.

Jason Middlebrook found his inspiration from Craters of the Moon’s ecology. Homage to the Limber Pine (3000 Years of High Winds, Heavy Snow and Countless Gazes) was forged from steel to reflect the dead and mangled limber pine trees that reside in the park’s lava flow. The sculpture now resides in Ketchum’s Little Park.

 

 

Gallery Walks

The Sun Valley Gallery Association hosts a free series of gallery walks throughout the year. Featuring new and established artists, exhibits are on display at the association’s eight member galleries. Grab your bike, a date, and a glass of wine and gallery hop for an evening each month. You might even meet some of the artists along the way. Find a list of gallery members and dates here.

 

Cover Art Project

For the ultimate grownup art-lover (and kid-friendly) scavenger hunt, find all 23 decorated power and cable phone boxes that line the streets of Ketchum and Sun Valley. Made possible by the Ketchum Arts Commission, Cover Art is a public exhibition that wraps town infrastructure, such as gondolas, bus shelters and power boxes, in original artwork by local or Idaho-based artists. The project re-imagines daily objects, covering them with images of dogs, chairlifts and more contemporary, abstract pieces. The most recent edition, a bus shelter on Saddle Road and Northwood Way, showcases artwork by local artist Karen Jacobsen. Stay tuned, a second gondola car is in the works.

    

 

Art on Fourth

Grab a cup of coffee from the local Starbucks or an ice cream cone in Town Square and cruise the open air “gallery” on Fourth Street. For the ninth year in a row, Fourth Street in Ketchum transforms into an outdoor exhibition of sculpture. Lining the Fourth Street Heritage Corridor, this year’s selection features works by artists from across the country. Three new additions include Peter Hazel’s ceramic fish sculpture The Hatch, Steve Jensen’s bronze and steel Sea Loop, and Gwynn Murrill’s bronze Deer 5.

 

Manhole Covers

In 2011, local artists were commissioned to design commemorative coins for the Valley. Unfortunately, the project fell through so the city decided instead to transfer the designs to manhole covers. Forty such covers decorate the streets of downtown, just be careful finding them!

    

 

 

Permanent Art Collection

In addition to the Craters of the Moon sculptures and the rotating art on Fourth Street, the city of Ketchum proudly displays other works throughout the town. Many of these reside on Fourth Street alongside rotating pieces. A full list of permanent art can be found here, or pick up a brochure in Town Square and meander through contemporary pieces, homages to past history and other daily objects transformed by artistic vision.

Map of Art Installations

To get you on your way, check out this map of where some of the art installations are located. We've left off the cover art pieces so that you can get out for your own scavenger hunt!

Last but not least, check out the Art in Ketchum cheat sheet for all of the things you'll find around town. 

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