Blake Thornton opens a fine arts gallery in Hailey
By ADAM TANOUS
Express Arts Editor
Think of fine arts galleries and Ketchum comes to mind.
With 29 galleries—the number fluctuates depending on what one counts—this
town of 3,003 has its fair share of venues for artists. Ironically, there
is a large art community in the south valley—both artists and lovers of
art—and no fine arts galleries.
Blake Thornton, a resident artist, graphic designer and
illustrator, has this week opened on Main Street in Hailey the Blake
Thornton Fine Arts Gallery. In the space previously occupied by
Christopher and Co. and next to Shorty’s Diner, Thornton has opened up
shop. Given the wealth of artistic talent and interest in the south
valley, the idea of a fine arts gallery has seemed imminent for years, yet
just now the idea is being realized. Last week I spoke with Thornton about
his latest project.
The new Blake Thornton Fine Arts Gallery
in Hailey is open for business. Express photo by Willy Cook
Curiously enough, the snowball of an idea began with the
success of a web design company called Tramark, located upstairs from the
new gallery. Thornton, who runs a very successful graphic design and
commercial illustration business, was sharing space with them. Tramark was
growing and asked Thornton if he would consider moving to another office.
It just so happened that the Christopher & Co. space was opening up.
Though the rent was higher, Thornton went for it.
As he was moving his office downstairs, it occurred to him
he could exhibit some of his own oil paintings in the space. Then it
dawned on him that this would be a good opportunity to exhibit the art of
other artists as well. And so the plan was hatched.
Thornton went about cleaning up the space: He removed a
false ceiling to open the place up, added a nice lighting system and did
some painting. With the giant window onto Main Street and the high
ceiling, the gallery has a big, open feel to it.
In addition to the computer equipment he uses for his
graphic design business, Thornton has installed a pulley system and
special lighting that will enable him to paint in the gallery. He paints
large landscapes with oils and graphite, almost exclusively of south
valley locations. Thornton, who is an avid fisherman and always packs a
camera, said the scenes of his paintings are "based on driving to and
from fishing spots." Many of his works are of the Gannett Road area,
Silver Creek and along the southern stretches of the Big Wood River. Often
he will return to a place several times photographing and then painting it
to reveal "what light does at different times of the day and in
different seasons," Thornton said. He has "always loved the
south valley and its colors. They are more subtle. The whole atmosphere is
Thornton envisions showing and representing several
artists in his gallery. He hopes to feature anywhere from two to four
artists and exhibit their art for a month at a time. "I want it to be
more cutting edge stuff. I am going to try to find people who are breaking
out and trying new things," Thornton said. He hopes to put some
free-standing sculptures in the gallery and even some jewelry.
As for his own art, he anticipates going in a new
direction as well. For the past year he has been working on eight,
"very detailed, large and involved landscapes." When that
project is completed he will start some more "contemporary and
Thornton has a large family, a wife and four children aged
14, 10, 7 and 5, all of whom he would like to include in the business.
Thornton is hoping to have his wife manage the gallery and get his
children involved on the weekends.
It seems an ideal setup: a gallery for Hailey residents to
view and buy new art, a lovely place to paint, albeit a public one, and an
office where Thornton’s family can come and go.
"I’m excited," he said, "I’ve been in
business for 30 years. This was a long time in coming."