Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rod Kagan memorial is a gift for Ketchum

‘Idaho Columns’ are a park in memory of Kagan

Express Staff Writer

“Idaho Columns” by Rod Kagan will be dedicated as Kagan Park in Ketchum near the YMCA on Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 2 p.m. Photo by David N. Seelig

Artist Rod Kagan passed away on Dec. 15, 2010, leaving a legacy of sculpture and personal history in the Wood River Valley. Kagan's works of found steel objects from Idaho mines are iconic, but it was his love of Sun Valley and art that will also be memorialized in the new Kagan Park in Ketchum, located by the Y on Saddle Road.

The city of Ketchum has installed a major sculpture series donated in Kagan's memory. A dedication ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 2 p.m. with Kagan's brother Tim, who gave the work, "Idaho Columns," for a permanent art installation for the park.

"The site has a remarkable vista of Baldy," said Gail Severn of the Gail Severn Gallery. "Rod's family stepped up to give the community an incredible gift."

Tim said it took about two and half seconds to agree to give "Idaho Columns" to Ketchum.

"I was absolutely deeply touched and overwhelmed by the response, donations, time and money from the community," he said. "Rod loved the community."

Kagan came to Ketchum in the 1970s when the arts scene was in its infancy and taking formation.

"He was so supportive," Severn said. "Rod was always there for classes and workshops, and he understood what set the Ketchum and Sun Valley community apart from any other mountain town. He's a part of this town's history."

The project was organized and managed by the Ketchum Arts Commission, which is part of the Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department, and with a great deal of effort from Arts Commission member Claudia McCain.

< In addition to contributions from valley residents and out-of-town friends in support of the project, in-kind contributions were provided by Adam Elias of Elias Construction, Matt Morell of Morell Engineering, Steve Pruitt of Architecture +, Doug Clemens of Clemens Associates, Phred's Fabrication and many more people who gave time, materials or donations to make Kagan Park happen.

"Idaho Columns" consists of six steel sculptures, each of which is between 18 and 25 feet tall. They were created with discarded metal from Idaho mines and scrap yards and incorporate wheels, pulleys, cables and other objects. "Idaho Columns" allows people to understand viewing nature through Kagan's eyes. His use of angles, shapes and oculars throughout the columns forces a viewer to see Baldy and the surrounding area from a new perspective and unusual vantage points. The sculpture's placement is very close to Kagan's original formation intention.

The park features a bench and native grasses and viewers can sit and contemplate the artwork and surrounding environment, or wander among the six columns. Money for transportation, installation, landscape design, ongoing maintenance, benches and plaques was made possible through fundraising efforts led by Benjamin Castellano-Wood and Gail Severn.

"We couldn't be more excited to have the opportunity to showcase and memorialize the work of one of Idaho's greatest artists," said Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall. "We're very grateful to the Kagan family, as well as to those members of the community who offered additional financial support to enable all of us to enjoy Rod's work, and to do so in a new city park. It's a real testament to the importance that this community places on the arts."

Kagan's sculptures are in private collections, museums and public spaces around the world. A collection of his sculptures is in the Boise Art Museum sculpture garden, and some of his work is featured in downtown Boise as well as Los Angeles and Florida. Among Kagan's accolades is the Idaho Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship grant and participation in an Idaho exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art.

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