Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Hunting for the truth

?The Hunt: Ritual and Narrative? opens at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts

Hunting for the truth

?Buck #5? by Tommy Freeman is on display at the SVCA?s new exhibition

Hunting is a word that provokes highly disparate yet equally intense reactions. On the one side, hunting is thrilling, an adrenaline rush, a true challenge, the essence of sportsmanship, and a necessary means of controlling and aiding the existence of wildlife. On the other side, hunting is barbaric, unnecessary, cruel and antiquated. As with many emotive subjects, clashes occur between opposers and detractors principally because one can never truly empathize with the other.

The Sun Valley Center for the Arts latest project is titled ?The Hunt: Ritual & Narrative,? and whilst not purporting to be a commentary on either perspective, it does hope to prompt a dialog within the community. The event will focus on hunting?s connection to ritual, family, sustenance, sport, the environment, social norms and storytelling.

The project debuts this Friday with an exhibition that aims to explore the tradition of hunting. Jennifer Gately, the curator of the exhibition, has installed a wall filled with historical images of the hunt taken from regional collections. The donators of these images range from the Hailey Public Library to Grumpy?s Burgers and Beer.
The photographs, which date back to 1880, depict local heroes and founding families juxtaposed with a collection of contemporary images that record a group of hunters on the East Coast, taken by New York artist Tracey Baran. Baran?s images capture not only the hunt but also the camaraderie and rituals of the hunt, performed every year around the nation.

Gately hopes that the local images, dedicated as they are to a theme close to the hearts of many in the valley, will help bring a new audience to the Center, ?The Center is not all about high brow art, it?s about community and [hunting] is a central part of our community.?

Adorning the walls of the main gallery will be several traditional hunting trophies, with a twist. Produced by a selection of West Coast artists the heads of deer, moose and bear have been created from found objects-a mundane object given new identity as artwork. The objects are eclectic, ranging from beer cans and car parts to high fashion logos such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel. Tommy Freeman?s humorous trophies, made from Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller cans, draw attention to one of the most prevalent, yet largely inaccurate stereotypes of hunting-that hunting and alcohol go hand in hand.
Opening the exhibition will be the Center?s Annual Members Opening Night Party. The party will take place both in the gallery amongst the exhibits and outside in a specially erected tent. The tent has been constructed to resemble a traditional (heated) hunting lodge. Local band Straight Up will be performing and there will be a fully functional ?watering hole?, created by San Francisco artist Nathan Lynch, complete with rifle-handed beer taps and neon signs.
The opening party is free to members and $10 for non-members. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5. For more information and for a schedule of events in ?The Hunt: Ritual & Narrative?, a multidisciplinary project running until Jan. 14, contact the Sun Valley Center for the Arts on 726-9491 or visit .

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