Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paintings saved from Whiskey’s

Crosby DeMoss’ Ketchum legacy lives on

Express Staff Writer

This painting is one of four left in Ketchum by Crosby DeMoss, an artist who hung his hat here briefly in the 1940s. Two of DeMoss’ paintings were removed from Whiskey Jacques’ Monday before flames gutted the place. A third is hanging over the fireplace at Atkinsons’ Market in Ketchum. The fourth vanished. Photo by Willy Cook

It's ironic, perhaps, that Crosby DeMoss had to repair one of his old paintings after it was singed while hanging over the fireplace at the old Alpine Saloon in Ketchum. The Alpine later became Whiskey Jacques', and DeMoss' old paintings were among the few things salvaged from the famed Ketchum watering hole Monday morning before flames leveled the place.

DeMoss was born in Hailey in 1911 and then moved to California. From there he went on to New York City to enter the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. Thereafter he began to freelance, landing jobs as an illustrator and doing color retouching for Vogue.

After World War II, however, he contracted malaria and returned to the West, eventually landing in Ketchum. But there wasn't much of a market for an artist in those days.

He painted signs like "wet paint" for Sun Valley, but in the meantime left a legacy of four paintings behind.

Two of DeMoss' collection of four hung on the walls at Whiskey's. One, titled "Happy Hunting," was behind the establishment's north bar. It depicts a street scene in a Western town with a happy hunter returning with his horse laden with fares.

The other depicts Ernest Hemingway, Gary Cooper and another man sound asleep under a tree while wildlife walk by and a mountain lion lounges in a tree above.

Both paintings were spared Monday morning. Whiskey Jacques' owner Karin Martin said firefighters asked her what she wanted to be salvaged. The two paintings were on the top of her mind. One is now at Martin's home in Ketchum. The other is at the Casino across the street.

In a 1977 interview with the Idaho Mountain Express, DeMoss recalled having to repair the painting after it had been scorched and blistered over the Alpine's fireplace.

"For God's sake, put a screen in front of any more fires," DeMoss said he'd told the Alpine's owners.

The third of the four paintings is hanging over the fireplace in Atkinsons' Market in Ketchum. The fourth was reported to be stolen.

"No one remembers what it looked like," reported the Idaho Mountain Express on Sept. 1, 1977.

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