By BETSY ANDREWS
For the Express
Thumb through handcrafted books, pull fantastical wooden trucks, admire yourself in one-of-a-kind jewelry and on graceful furniture as the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival celebrates its 38th year. Introducing a host of first-time participants and welcoming back many old favorites, the festival has grown into one of the top 100 juried art festivals in the nation, with more than 100 artists from across the country and Canada.
Activities Aug. 11, 12, and 13 on the grounds of Sun Valley Resort include artist demonstrations, hands-on crafting for kids and live music through the weekend—and it's all free.
"The opportunity to see an artist at work, plus the hands-on children's activities and free entertainment by top-caliber musicians are a few of the things that make our festival unique," said Sun Valley Center for the Arts executive director Sam Gappmeyer. The Center assembles an anonymous jury, comprised of different members each year, who choose a wide-variety of artisans working in various media.
Only 15 percent of those who apply make the cut. Ten local artists got the nod this year: fiber artists Deb Gelet and Karen McCall; jewelers Kary Kjesbo, Terrance Deemer, and Michele Black; glass blower Paul Downey; photographer Barbara Kline; painter Debbie Edgers Sturges; ceramist Elmer Taylor; and digital artist Vickey Hanson-Williams. Buhl artist Larry Davidson will bring richly glazed functional ceramics, and Sam Bennett of Idaho Falls will display exquisite boomerangs.
The show offers a ripe venue for both emerging and established artists. More than seven thousand guests from around the world attended last year's festival. "It's so exciting to get back in," said Kjesbo, whose work incorporates antiques pieces into modern, wearable jewelry.
"The festival typically gives me enough commissioned work that I'm busy for the next year," said Gelet. C.C. Barton, a printmaker from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who won last year's "Best of Category," will return with delightfully detailed nature etchings. They're a must-see, as well as furniture of fossilized limestone, patinated metals, and exotic woods by Chanin Cook and Jonathan Edie of Napa, California.
Artist demonstrations will take place at one-hour intervals. Former Ketchumite Kim Howard, illustrator of best-selling children's books, will return with watercolor paintings of all sizes. Her lively sessions are a fascinating lesson in slight of hand. In another demonstration, Portland artists Richard and Deborah Bloom will craft wind chimes from driftwood, seedpods and obsidian. David Wang, a San Francisco artist trained at China's oldest art school, will take onlookers through the multi-step technique of ancient Chinese watercolor painting on rice paper.
Children's activities, held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, include kite making, book making, and creating a community sand mandala. Children will have the opportunity to build wacky sun hats throughout the festival.
Friday afternoon, Flamenco guitarist Art Wallace will wow onlookers with his nimble fingerwork. Later in the weekend, Public Radio will sizzle with bluegrass tunes and crowds can snap their fingers to other acoustic, folk, and blues musicians, including local bands Bruce Innes Trio and acoustic guitarist Will Bell. Fiddling whiz Carrie Rodriguez will strut her stuff with singer/songwriter Chip Taylor, whose "Wild Thing" and "Angel of the Morning" have been made into hits over and over again. The duo has been nominated for a 2006 Americana Music Conference award as Best Duo/Group of the Year.
Food and drinks will be on sale onsite. Festival hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, August 11, and 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For more information on the festival and a detailed run down of events and timings turn to the Arts & Crafts Festival Guide included in this week's Mountain Express.