Wednesday, August 29, 2012

‘White Knuckle’ captures drama of mining history

Painting of historic ore wagons featured on Wagon Days poster

Express Staff Writer

    Hailey artist Tom Teitge painted “White Knuckle,” a 10-by-10-foot painting that hangs in Atkinsons’ Market in Ketchum, based on sketch studies of the historic ore wagons that will roll in the Wagon Days parade this weekend. The painting decorates the 2012 Wagon Days poster.
    Teitge, 65, was born in Tacoma, Wash., and lived in Hailey. He has painted numerous murals in the Wood River Valley and Seattle area, and provided art for the Northern Rockies Folk Festival and Power Engineer’s annual Power Outage parties.
    Teitge has also designed and built many homes, sculptures and automobile art pieces, including a “model of the universe gazebo” that sits in his backyard in Hailey.    

Hailey artist Tom Teitge designed this year’s Wagon Days poster, above.
Courtesy image

    “I let my imagination run wild on what it may have been like bringing an ore wagon down a steep hillside and trying to control it,” Teitge said about “White Knuckle.” “I tried to capture something that had the drama of that moment.”
    The ore wagons that will ride in the parade this weekend were built to be sturdy enough to carry heavy loads of ore from the many mines that surrounded the Wood River Valley during the early years of Ketchum’s settlement.
     Today, the restored ore wagons are kept at the Ore Wagon Museum at Fifth Street and East Avenue in Ketchum. They are pulled out each year and fitted to teams of sturdy mules for the Big Hitch parade, which commemorates the town’s mining history.
   Teitge’s current projects include a kinetic one-ton teeter-totter sculpture that he hopes will be activated by a person pedaling in balance with an enormous weight.
    “The goal is to make sure it doesn’t work as a catapult,” he said.

Tony Evans:

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