It’s no secret that the art and culture scene in Ketchum is akin to big cities like New York City. There are numerous concerts like the acclaimed Sun Valley Music Festival symphony performances and big names in indie, rock, jazz and more from the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. There are plays put on by the Company of Fools and the Spot and annual cultural events like the Wood River Studio Tour. But in terms of everyday art in Ketchum, nothing represents the scene better than Ketchum’s numerous art galleries. Displaying mediums from photography to sculpture and more, there’s a little something for everyone and it all caters to a sophisticated demographic. It was for this cultural scene that Meredith Skillman, the Gallery Registrar at Gail Severn Gallery, decided to call Ketchum, Idaho her home.
“There aren’t many places in the U.S. where you can get the small-town experience and also work in art galleries,” said the North Carolina native who moved to the Valley seven years ago. Skillman had originally intended to be a musician like both her parents, even majoring in vocal performance at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill but switched to art history after taking her first course and getting hooked. After graduating, she headed to London to get her masters in Contemporary Art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art where she stayed for 2 ½ years after graduating to work at Timothy Taylor gallery. For someone interested in art, London would seem to have it all but Skillman didn’t enjoy living in a city and was toying with moving back to the U.S.
Sun Valley got on Skillman’s radar through her roommate in London who was from Boise. Skillman attended her roommate’s wedding in Sun Valley to a ski instructor, spending a week in town and enjoying the art scene and small town living. “I decided to come back and Sun Valley seemed like a good choice,” Skillman said. “I had seen the art galleries and I knew I didn’t want to move to a big city. A few months later, I packed my car up in North Carolina and drove out west.”
Skillman took a job as Gallery Registrar at Gail Severn Gallery, an institution in Ketchum as one of the oldest galleries in town (43 years old). As Gallery Registrar, Skillman is essentially responsible for inventory, logging anything incoming and outgoing. That also includes dealing with consignments, loan agreements, pricing increases, and being in constant contact with the artists to make sure everything is up-to-date inventory-wise. She is also responsible for the physical location of the art and updating all records and doing condition reports.
It’s not just the quantity of art galleries in Ketchum that attracted Skillman but also the quality of the art. Growing up in a tourist-oriented coastal town, Skillman is familiar with certain types of art that attempt to appeal to a wider demographic and was happy to see that the galleries in Ketchum offered more than just “western” art. “This is such a rich community in terms of population density and what’s offered here,” Skillman said. “A lot of the galleries are willing to explore other genres of art and present more exciting programs.”
When not working at the gallery, Skillman spends time with her boyfriend of seven years, a born and raised local and enjoys hiking, heading up north, and learning to snowboard which she started last year. “The summers are great, I’m a huge hiker,” Skillman said. “On my days off or after work, I can just head up to Proctor or something. That’s what’s great, everything’s so close.”