Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ketchum wants artwork in its midst

Mayor says hes considering proposing tax to support public art

Express Staff Writer

The city of Ketchum is planning to install sculptures along Fourth Street this summer, in part to promote arts and artists in the valley. Photo by David N. Seelig

Installation of public art in Ketchum is expected to increase as the Ketchum Arts Commission picks up the pace of its activity.

The commission was established in 2007 to represent the town's arts community. It works to develop projects and makes recommendations to the Ketchum City Council.

Mayor Randy Hall said the group has been slow to organize but is a positive resource.

Hall said that when he was elected mayor in 2005, former Sun Valley Center for the Arts Executive Director Sam Gappmayer made a presentation to him about how important arts are to a community.

"I am not an art person," Hall said. "I knew I needed to help integrate people from the arts community."

Hall met with Boulder Mountain Clayworks owner Susan Ward and Wood River Arts Alliance co-founder Claudia McCain to discuss arts in the community. Hall also met with Mark Johnstone, who is on the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission and the Hailey Arts Commission.

"What I really want to do is implement a 1 percent tax for art, like in Boise," Hall said. "As mayor, I am always looking for ways to make more revenue. I want to figure in the art vision and create a revenue stream and match it with government money."

Jerome, Idaho Falls, McCall and other Idaho cities have adopted Percent for Public Arts ordinances that give 1 percent of funds for public building construction to arts project within the building.

Any new tax in the city would have to go through an established approval process.

Hall said he will pass on ideas from the commission to the City Council for public art projects in Ketchum.

A sculpture display planned for Fourth Street this summer has been allocated $6,000 for construction of bases and foundations for the artwork. In addition, Hall said, he would like recommendations from the commission for Ketchum's new town plaza, along East Avenue downtown. An overhaul of the site is planned for this summer.

"I would like to investigate a volunteer program," Hall said. "The plaza and Fourth Street are just the beginning and with successful completion of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' new building, it will all be great. I would love to see art installation in all disciplines."

Hall said he has received criticisms that the city government does not spend enough on tourism promotion and cannot afford to manage art programs.

"Arts play a big role in this community," he said. "We are a sophisticated community with an open-minded government. Without the arts, the city would not have the quality of life it has or the volunteer organizations. All of the 501 (c)(3) organizations, volunteers and boards provide the quality of life the city government can't, and we need to honor them."

A four-month-long installation of outdoor sculpture will be placed along the Fourth Street Heritage Corridor from June through October. It will include 10 works by Wood River Valley and regional artists.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

Deadline extended in call for public art

The Ketchum Arts Commission has extended the deadline to Friday, April 16, for regional artists to submit outdoor, public sculptures suitable for long-term, four-month installation in public spaces along the Fourth Street Heritage Corridor in Ketchum. The city will accept and install 6-10 artworks to display from June through October. The exhibition will close October 15, 2010. Submit applications to For details, call 726-7820 or visit

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