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For the week of July 26 through August 1, 2000

Artists abound

Resident artists enrich the valley with their work

Express Staff Writer

It always seems ironic when people refer to Ketchum, Hailey and Sun Valley as a resort community. Certainly there are plenty of people out there playing. But what is always startling is the number of extremely talented people roaming around on the trails, or on bikes, or in ski boots—all of them just under the radar screen of most residents.

This is especially true in the world of art. We can walk by them in the post office for years without realizing their secret talents or skills.

This week, and hopefully in future weeks, the Mountain Express will look at resident artists and their work. Some are nationally known, some not. All have found a mode of expression that not only touches individuals, but makes us better as a community.


Joseph Kinnebrew: sculpture

When a reporter first met Joseph Kinnebrew, an internationally known artist, he was driving a front loader. It was 7:50 a.m., and Kinnebrew had been moving heavy steel objects for quite a while. He was busily preparing his outdoor gallery, a concept that may be as unique to this area as it is spectacular.

Driving to the outdoor gallery, located two miles up East Fork Canyon, one would assume he was approaching any other home out there. And indeed Kinnebrew has, as he said, "gone to extraordinary measures" to respect the residential nature of the area. Kinnebrew has planted over 300 trees to screen the outdoor gallery. But when one crosses through the tree line, it is apparent that he has entered into a very special place.

With the Pioneer Mountains and the East Fork Ridge lines as backdrops, Kinnebrew’s art is placed throughout the three acre gallery. There are large, brightly painted steel structures, smaller cast iron pieces, and others that incorporate water in them. Starting at the top of the property is a stream that flows through the center piece, what Kinnebrew refers to as an "earth form," and then meanders another 75 yards to a pool and sculpture piece below.

While still under construction, the rest of the gallery will consist of rolling areas that are contoured to accentuate other pieces of Kinnebrew’s art.

Kinnebrew emphasized that "he was not trying to replicate nature. That would be "Disney-esque." He said that it was designed to be a place "conducive to showing art in an outdoor environment." It is, in fact, intended to be a gallery rather than a sculpture garden. The difference being that Kinnebrew plans on changing the art over time. Indeed, he has designed and engineered the area very carefully so that large cranes can move his art work in and out.

Kinnebrew said that he designed the ground plan for the landscaping but never specified the plant or tree types. He emphasized that the Hailey Nursery, the company doing the landscape work, has brought a tremendous amount of expertise and professionalism to the project. And it is a project grand in scope. In addition to installing a running stream, a sprinkling system and huge amounts of dirt for contouring, Kinnebrew is also building a studio/living area for his wife and him. In the downstairs studio, Kinnebrew will display his clay pieces and paintings.

The work itself is not only aesthetically very striking, but physically dramatic. Several of the works, including the center piece, are made from one quarter inch thick steel elbows that are normally used for high pressure pipelines. Kinnebrew and his assistants physically hold the pipe sections in place as they are tack welded.

He then steps back and either accepts the form or not. If it is what he is after then the seams are permanently welded. The finishing process begins at this point. Part of the magic of the art is that these giant steel pieces appear absolutely seamless. They are large works of steel that have a grace that almost seems paradoxical.

Kinnebrew does his heavy work at his private gallery north of Seattle. It too is an outdoor gallery, but it is set within a tiered rock quarry overlooking Puget Sound.

He does his big sculpture work there because the weather allows for more work time outdoors. He then transports the pieces out here himself for finish work. What’s more, he has resigned himself to the long commute.

Other pieces in the gallery include several textured, cast iron works that incorporate glass structures in them. These are sand casted pieces that Kinnebrew has poured at a foundry in Boise. He said that he has about 10 sculptures coming soon from the foundry.

If that isn’t enough to keep him busy, he works on five or six new pieces at a given time. He is 57 years old now and has been making sculptures since he was 20. One would think that after 37 years of doing something a guy would run out of ideas. It is apparent that Kinnebrew is just getting started.



Kim Howard: painting

Those who know Kim Howard’s work probably know that narrative figures heavily in it. Her large paintings have storybook and mythological characteristics combined with decorative elements. Much of them have nordic themes.

What many may not know is that Howard has several other styles and types of work. The concept of narrative, however, infuses all of them.

One of Howard’s favorite forms is what she calls her "travel diaries." These are diaries that Howard has kept for over 20 years. They blend written memories with water color paintings of the many places she has visited or lived. Howard is currently teaching a class in this form at The Community School.

She said in an interview that the travel diaries are "an exciting way to collect memories and to personalize the experiences." Howard pointed out that in painting the scene or memory you "pass over into a place where you own it."

The other aspect of the diaries she treasures is that they are private. One can always close the journal. In this way, creating the artwork is "not as intimidating" as painting on a regular canvas that is exposed to the world.

Looking at Howard’s work, one can see that the narrative of her personal life plays a big part in the aesthetic course of her work. Howard has spent a great deal of time in France with her 4-year-old daughter, Amelia. There, Howard has spent time painting at museums and in the countryside with her daughter by her side. Often Amelia draws as well. Howard incorporates her daughter’s drawings into her journals because they, too, are part of the story unfolding.

In yet another form she works in, what could be termed watercolor panels. Howard tells a story as well, albeit less explicitly. She uses pen and watercolors in a sketchbook style to illustrate her subject. All of the panels are done on location, again with her daughter nearby. Howard will be showing this work in the upcoming Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Fair, Aug. 11-13.

This phase of her work has been, for Howard, "a growth step professionally." Having a 4-year-old nearby has forced her to work faster and to improve her sketching skills. Howard said that her work has benefited as a result.

In September, Howard will start another stay in France, and already she has several projects in the works for her time there. She will be living in a small village of about 100 people, 40 miles west of Avignon in Provence. What appeals to her about France is the simpler life style. She will be staying in a tiny house, her daughter will be in school there, and as she said, she "doesn’t know very many people there."

Howard hopes to spend about half of her painting time on more introspective paintings. These are, she said, "more personal pieces." She won’t necessarily have sales or a market in mind. She anticipates the work being a refreshing break for her.

She also hopes to begin work on a new children’s book. Howard told the story of how the fashion designer Lucien Lebault was hired by the W.P.A. in the 30s to help Diego Rivera paint some of the famous murals of California. Lebault often used his daughters as models. It turns out that the daughters will be living one valley over from Howard in France. Howard hopes to write a children’s book told through the eyes of Lebault’s daughters.

Howard has a long list of children’s books to her credit. The latest for which she has done the illustrations was just published, "My Spiritual Alphabet" (author Holly Bea). In October, "Goodnight, God" will be released. It is, according to Howard, based on the premise of "Goodnight, Moon."



Elisabeth Pohle: pottery

Elisabeth Pohle told the story of her early academic life with the same up-beat manner she discussed her art and business.

"I was a terrible student," she said. "Except for art. I was always being reprimanded for doing art."

That was in 1977 when she was a student here at the Sam School (now The Community School). But that was 1977, and there wasn’t much of an art program then.

It wasn’t until Pohle moved to Los Gatos High in California that she begin to excel in the the arts, specifically in "throwing" pottery. The fact that Pohle grew up with all kinds of animals around her house very definitely plays into her work now.

Pohle hand paints plates, bowls and milk jugs with her now characteristic farm animals. She paints with vibrant, food-safe paints and glazes, often using a dark black background to offset the animals. As Pohle put it, the black makes the animals "pop." The pottery has a very European look.

Pohle began her professional career as a graphic designer in Los Angeles. Early on, she went off to Paris to study landscape painting at the Parsons School. Upon returning, she became a textile designer—designing prints for fabrics in Los Angeles. She worked at this for four years and said of the industry, "it really teaches you to be disciplined and creative at the same time."

She said she still sees her prints from time to time. Just the other day, she saw one of her prints on a make-up bag in Chateau Drug.

In 1994, Pohle was ready for a change, and so she moved to Sun Valley. Right away, she began painting at "Local Color," a pottery and paint studio in Ketchum. Some of the plates she made there she was able to sell in her mother’s store, Dunbar Interiors. From that point on, the demand for them never let up.

Pohle estimates that she has made over 1,000 plates to date. About four years ago, she started showing in the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Show. She always sold out her entire booth. (This year, she will show at the first annual Ketchum Arts and Crafts Show).

Last year, Pohle decided to try her hand at the wholesale market. She attended the San Francisco International Gift Show. Department store buyers go to these shows to find pieces for their outlets. Since that show, Pohle has been in over 100 stores (mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area). She can hardly keep up with her orders.

Part of the problem, she said, is that she is not good at "delegating, largely because my name is on every piece." She even goes so far as to pack and ship every order.

Pohle’s pieces begin their colorful lives when they are cast-molded in Twin Falls. As soon as they come out of the mold, they are fired immediately to stabilize them for the journey north to her Ketchum studio. Pohle then paints, glazes, and fires the pieces in a kiln in her house.

On the horizon is a new venture for Pohle. She is overseeing the design and production of a pillow line. She has had fabric designed in India to match her plates. She then plans on screen printing her designs on this fabric. The pillows, like her plates, will be carried by Antiques & Country Pine in Ketchum.

Eventually, Pohle hopes to license her designs to bigger companies. Until then she will be working seven days a week from about 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The good news is that when she finishes filling her orders, she is done. Then she likes to travel for two or three weeks at a time, often to colorful places like Indonesia, Mexico and Santa Barbara. While it is easy to see the influence of such places on her work, Pohle said she usually just does landscape painting when she is traveling.

"It is just for me," she said. "It is a way of refreshing my fine arts abilities."


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