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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of  October 31 - November 6, 2001

  Arts & Endorsements

Center has illuminating season ahead

Express Staff Writer

Like the Grande Dame she is, The Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities still needs to gave a party every once in a while to show-off her stuff and garner support.

That’s exactly what it did last Wednesday evening, by inviting town pols, leaders, gallery owners, artists and other luminaries of the area, many of whom are active supporters of the arts in the valley, to the Center.

In an inspiring hour of descriptive snippets by the heads of the various departments¾ Performing Arts, Visual, Education and Humanities¾ the schedule and vision for most of the following year was revealed.

Artistic director Kristin Poole introduced the current exhibit, a progressive multi-disciplinary presentation called "Mirroring History: The Gaze of Hate in the 20th Century."

"We’ve never taken on such a huge project," said Poole.

Indeed, the presentation offers some weighty and thought provoking issues in art, word, dance and music.

But it’s not all a big downer.

In fact, there is much to be excited about in the next four months of this evolving exhibit.

Initially, the exhibit focuses on the Japanese interment camp in our area, Minidoka, with the exhibit "Whispered Silences, Remembering America’s Japanese Internment Camps."

Featured in the gallery are many moving photographs by Joan Myers, who stumbled on the ruins of this camp by accident and sought to preserve what remains there in striking black and white photos.

Accompanying that is an installation by local artist Bob Dix. A replica barrack, similar to those people actually lived in, has been built in the gallery. Within it, actual film footage taken at one of the camps runs continuously. Letters and artifacts are inside as well.

Also on display in the gallery are The Letters of Clara Breed, a librarian in San Diego, who had the foresight to correspond with many of her young friends while they were interned in Idaho. The letters she carefully saved hauntingly illuminate the daily experiences of innocent Japanese Americans wrongly interned in a time of fear and intolerance. School children will be encouraged to respond to the letters when they visit the Center, and postcards are available for that purpose.

A corresponding documentary film series runs every other Tuesday at the gallery. It includes incredibly worthwhile documentaries that cover a broad spectrum of hate, intolerance and diversity.

Included in this series are movies about the internment camps, the Holocaust, "Four Little Girls" by Spike Lee about the girls blown up in a church 40 years ago in Birmingham, Ala., "Blink" by Elizabeth Thompson, who’ll be here to discuss the film about a reformed white supremacist, and "The Times of Harvey Milk," about the gay San Francisco city supervisor, who was assassinated along with Mayor George Moscone in 1978.

All of these events are free to the public.

Opening Dec. 17 is the second portion of the "Mirroring History" presentation, "In the Shadow of the Holocaust."

This display examines the larger context of hate and intolerance through the eyes of post-WWII German artists.

The curator of modern art at the St. Louis Art Museum, Cornelia Homburg, will discuss contemporary German artists, who have responded to their country’s legacy of intolerance. Some extremely well known artists’ works will be on display, including work by Joseph Beuys and Gerhard Richter.

This lecture also corresponds with the exhibit "Between the Wars: Prints by Max Beckman, Otto Dix and George Grosz."

Director of Education and Humanities Heather Crocker discussed the many outreach programs, lectures by visiting authors and professors, and classes being held at the Center and local schools.

Among the lecturers coming are Edgar Bronfman, who’ll talk about helping Jewish families retrieve art work and money illegally taken from them during World War II.

Peter Boag, a historian, will discuss the history of gay and transgender people in the Pacific Northwest, as well as provide commentary on the movie, "The Times of Harvey Milk."

The new Performing Arts director, Amy Wigstrom, spoke enthusiastically about the many exciting events that are scheduled in her department, including performances in the near future by the (Alvin) Ailey II dance troupe, renowned performance artist Meredith Monk, new chamber music artists Bang on the Drum All-Stars, and classical guitar virtuoso and Grammy winner Sharon Isbin.

Early next year, a presentation called "The Ephemeral and The Organic" will bring to the valley nature artists David Nash and Andy Goldsworthy. "This is great fodder for kids," Poole said. And a multimedia installation by the photographer, folklorist and video artist Carrie Mae Weems is slated for mid-summer.

Meanwhile, in an unfortunate timely way, the Center is presenting this evocative four-month retrospective on hate and intolerance, linking the past to the present, in the hope that it will initiate a healing process since the disasters on September 11.

In her brochure for the presentation, Poole cites "troublesome paradoxes have led us as an organization to locate artists who have considered the questions" of intolerance and hate in depth.

Based on the inspiring lecture and presentation given at the Center for the coming season, it promises to be a season full of educational opportunities, illuminating art work and exciting performances.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.