Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A year in art for 2006

Non-stop arts and events keet the Valley busy

Express Staff Writer

A young Maria Cooper Janis with her father Gary Cooper in Sun Valley. Janis presented the world premiere of the documentary film ?Cooper and Hemingway: The True Gen? at the 2nd Annual Ernest Hemingway Festival in October.

Looking back at the world of arts and events in the Wood River Valley in 2006, one thing is clear: An impressive art scene thrives in central Idaho, and it grows with each passing year.

The year began with The Sun Valley Center for the Arts exhibition "Paradise Paved," which featured the independent film series "Outside the Loop" and brought notable directors such as Terry Zwigoff for a weeklong residency to Sun Valley. In addition, the Center's project, "Biodiversity: Order, Consumption & Man," made its debut addressing the idea of extinction and man's impact on biodiversity.

The nexStage Theatre began the year with a production of "Vincent," a one-man touring show that celebrated its 10th year in the Wood River Valley. It was followed by the Banff Mountain Film tour, which screened films featuring cultures and lifestyles of mountain living from around the globe.

Hailey's Company of Fools began the year with an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's famed "Hedda Gabler" starring Denise Simone. In February, two-time Pulitzer prize winner Dr. E.O Wilson spoke at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood as part of The Center's "Biodiversity" exhibit. In addition, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III came to Sun Valley to discuss and promote his memoir, "My Year In Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope" also at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood.

In March the Sun Valley Opera Co. celebrated its fifth season bringing world class singers to the valley for the "Met to Broadway" series where highlights of memorable Broadway show tunes from "Cats" and "Peggy and Bess," to name a few, were presented in the "Spring Fever" concert.

Opening a two-month long multidisciplinary project at the end of March, The Center featured "Art in Tibet" focusing on the art of the remote Himalayan nation. Guest speaker Robert A. F. Thurman whose talk, "The Gifts of the Tibetans," at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Sun Valley, offered great inspiration.

In April, Company of Fools unleashed a production of "Frog and Toad," a children's classic about friendship. In addition, the Sun Valley Wellness Festival presented keynote speaker Coleman Barks known for his translation of 13th century poet Jellaludin Rumi, the most read poet in America in the last 10 years.

In May, the Cashore Marionettes appeared in "Simple Gifts" at The Sun Valley Performing Arts/nexStage Theatre and The Center featured its exhibit, "Young at Art," revealing the excellent quality of arts education in Blaine County.

The Sun Valley Center for the Arts Wine Auction found great success in June in raising record-setting funding for The Center's programs resulting in a Hailey expansion and noted as one of the best wine auctions in the country by Wine Spectator magazine. Another June event that made a splash was the British pop musical "Honk!Jr." by the St. Thomas Playhouse's Company B's Performing Arts Camp for Children and Youth at the nexStage Theatre.

The Sun Valley Opera heated up the summer with "Star Spangled Voices" with classical crossover singers switch singing between classical and popular song styles. The return of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, celebrating 22 years, proved successful again with classical pianist Susan Spelius Dunning performing at nexStage Theatre. In addition, a benefit that garnered attention was the Sun Valley Symphony's gala hosted by Broadway performing and actress Bernadette Peters.

Winding down summer events was the Community Library's Tour of Homes. For 27 years, the Tour of Homes has wowed many an interested visitor. In addition, The Sun Valley Center Arts & Crafts festival celebrated its 38th and has been honored as one of the nations top fine arts and crafts festivals in the Northwest.

In August, The Center's "Album: Shifting Native Stories" presented Seneca artist and teacher Marie Watt known for her traditional weaving creations that echo her native roots but exist as modern works of art.

The Center, also, presented Roseanne Cash with Jerry Douglas in concert at the River Run Lodge for a memorable show of music from the daughter of country music's greatest couple Johnny and June Carter Cash. In addition, the legendary Bonnie Rait played to a sold out show in Ketchum.

The second annual Spiritual Film Festival with their theme of "Illuminating Power of Film" lived up to its promise revealing a world of cinema that inspired, revealed and blessed one's soul. In addition, celebrating 18 years of a fall film festival, the Magic Lantern proved that celebrating film of all genres is a necessary entity to modern living.

In its second year, the highly anticipated and award winning Ernest Hemingway festival brought Hemingway followers from all over the country to honor and learn about this father of modern literature. Making a world premiere this year was the documentary film "Cooper and Hemingway: The True Gen." The film brought Gary Cooper's daughter, Maria Janis Cooper, to Sun Valley to talk about her father's 20-year friendship with Hemingway.

October saw the launch of new theater group Off Center Stage performing Christopher Durang's "Laughing Wild" at the nexStage Theater. In addition, Company of Fools launched a month's worth of introspective in their program, "Fools: Exposed." The Trailing of the Sheep festival brought keynote speaker and acclaimed author Mark Kurlansky to Sun Valley. Kurlansky's writings on the Basque people and ideas about food and land management presented a fascinating perspective on commerce and culture.

In November, The Laughing Stock Theatre Co. presented a production of Yasmina Reza's Broadway hit, "Art," at the nexStage Theatre and the opening of the Boulder Mountain Clayworks Art Gallery, a project that was 10 years in the making.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary the American Himalaya Foundation and Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival hosted an unforgettable evening of stories, images, art and friends of the Himalayas at the nexStage Theatre.

To end the year, Company of Fools pulled out all the stops with its production of "Bus Stop" revealing great performances from its great cast of characters.

Although the holidays are never quite right without a production of "A Christmas Carol" this year's version at the nexStage Theater was made even more special with the sets of painter Judy Stoltzfus.

As the year closed, the re-opening of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society Heritage & Ski Museum reopened to provide a great place to launch a promising 2007 for arts in the Wood River Valley.

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