Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Center to open 'The Rural Vernacular' exhibition

Photos make ordinary look extraordinary

Express Staff Writer

"Roadside Stand" by John Hill. Photograph at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts in Ketchum.

The Sun Valley Center for the Arts' new exhibition, "The Rural Vernacular," captures the essence of American life through iconic rural-life images and replications. The show presents a world beyond mainstream America, one that is plain and simplistic in view but upon closer look reveals the unusual life of hard-working people.

Walker Evans' photographs are used as a starting point for the show. Works on display include large digital images by John Hill of classic Walker Evans Farm Security Administration pictures. In addition, the exhibition includes photos of bars, billiard parlors and corner shops by Jim Dow and an installation by Brittany Powell that will re-create (in contact paper) a small-town backyard that evokes life in the 1940s. Some elements clearly pertain to rural life today.

"Evans has been such a major, major influence on photographers that we forget that his pictures were intended for newspapers and periodicals, not gallery walls," said the Center's Artistic Director Kristin Poole. "What John Hill is doing is fascinating. He starts with the original photo but re-creates it in digital format and enlarges it so that all kinds of previously unseen details become visible."

Dow has a connection to Evans, having printed Evans' photos for a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1971. He considers Evans a mentor, saying his photos are "razor sharp ... pictures that seemingly read like paragraphs."

Powell's work explores the profound in the ordinary. She covers walls with contact paper and then carefully cuts away the paper, exposing parts of the walls beneath to create illusionistic images of life-size spaces. Powell has used this technique to re-create her childhood bedroom, a doughnut shop, a Mexican restaurant and scenes of horses. She will exhibit her technique in an installation at The Center in Ketchum for the exhibition.

Exhibition dates for "The Rural Vernacular" are Friday, June 5, through Saturday, Aug. 8. A related exhibition, "Idaho's Fences," will be on display at The Center, Hailey, from June 5 through Aug. 31. For details, visit or call 726-9491.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

Event schedule

Friday, June 5

· "Idaho's Fences" opening exhibition at The Center, Hailey, 5:30-7 p.m. Opening celebration and community welcome party for The Center's new executive director, Bill Ryberg.

· "The Rural Vernacular" opens in Ketchum.

Friday, July 3

· Gallery Walk 5-8 p.m., Ketchum.

Tuesday, July 7

· Free exhibition tour at 2 p.m. or by appointment, Ketchum.

Thursday, July 9

· Special evening exhibition tour with wine and a curator, Ketchum.

Thursday, July 18

· A free lecture by Clark Worswick on Walker Evans at 7 p.m. at The Center in Ketchum.

Friday, Aug. 7

· Gallery Walk 5-8 p.m., Ketchum.

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