Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Contemplating forests

New exhibit to open this weekend at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts


Shannon Durbin, “Forest Fire 01, Series One,” 2011, gouache on paper, courtesy of the artist and Cullom Gallery, Seattle.
Courtesy graphic

    The Sun Valley Center for the Arts will unveil this weekend a new visual arts exhibition, “Forests, Foraging and Fires,” which explores the forest as an ecosystem, a resource and a place of transformation.
    The show opens on Saturday, Aug 23, at The Center in Ketchum. It is part The Center’s fall “Big Idea” multidisciplinary project of the same title.
    “This project is going to give us a chance to think about the forest in local and regional terms and also on a more global level,” said Courtney Gilbert, curator of visual arts. “The programs we’ve put together offer tremendous opportunities for considering our human relationship to the forest from a variety of different viewpoints. What do we take from the forest, how do we manage it, how should we care for it?”
    The “Forests, Foraging and Fires” exhibition features work by contemporary artists who make expressions about the forest through painting, drawing, photography, film and a site-specific installation.
-    Catherine Chalmers will present drawings, a photographic scroll and two films from Leafcutters, a multimedia project focused on leafcutter ants in Central America, who, like us, use the forest as a natural resource.
-    In her series of gouache paintings on paper, Shannon Durbin explores the conflict between the role of fire in maintaining healthy forests and our human need to protect our communities from harm as well as “the sometimes transcendent beauty of forest fires.”
-    In the installation Thank You, Fog, Spencer Finch presents 60 photographs made at one-minute intervals as a bank of fog rolled over a densely wooded area of Sonoma County, Calif., depicting the forest as a living organism, ever-changing and transformational.
-    Photographer Eirik Johnson’s two bodies of work consider what we take from our forests: In Sawdust Mountain he explores the logging and fishing industries in the Pacific Northwest and “the complicated relationship” between the region’s landscape, industries and the communities they support. The Mushroom Camps looks at the camps erected by seasonal mushroom hunters in Oregon—occupied camps and the traces hunters leave behind. The mushroom hunters, according to Johnson, represent “a uniquely American mix of Southeast Asian multi-generational families, rural counter-culture folks, and Mexican migrant laborers.”
-    William D. Lewis’s series Fish and Game paintings offer a wry look at our relationship to the animals that live in the forest. Inspired by a visit to Idaho’s Fish and Game headquarters, where—incongruously—taxidermied animals line sterile office-building hallways, he’s painted deer, antelope, bears and ducks in settings ranging from the Fish and Game offices to universities and consignment shops.
-    Based in Wales, David Nash works with found wood to create sculptures that suggests the forest is both a natural resource and a place for spiritual and creative transformation. His small- and extremely large-scale work features sculptures in forms he sees as universal: such as cube, sphere, and pyramid.
-   Idaho artist Gerri Sayler has used 20,000 pipe cleaners to create Billow, a site-specific installation evocative of a cloud of smoke rising within The Center’s gallery space. Billow is inspired by Sayler’s visit to the areas in the Wood River Valley affected by the 2013 Beaver Creek Fire.
-    German-born, Seattle-based artist Anne Siems’ featured paintings are inspired by her hiking excursions in the Pacific Northwest. She depicts the region’s trees, particularly old-growth stumps, which she pairs with figures dressed in 1850s-era costume. She writes that the stumps (which she calls “grandmothers”) “are unending providers of new growth—from tiny mushrooms to ferns to new large trees.”
    Related programming for the “Big Idea” project will also include a play reading, a panel discussion, lectures and films—all designed to offer the community a chance to think about how we engage with our forests today.
    Highlights include:
-    Gallery Walk—Aug. 29, 5-7 p.m.
-    Evening Exhibition Tour—Sept. 4, 5:30 p.m.
-    Panel Discussion—Sept. 16, 6:30 p.m.
-    Play Reading—“A Walk in the Woods,” Sept. 27, 6:30 p.m.
-    Lecture—Timothy Egan, Oct. 2, 6:30 p.m.
-    Family Day—Oct. 4, 3-5 p.m.
-    Film: “The Fruit Hunters,” Oct. 9, 7 p.m.
-    Evening Exhibition Tour—Oct. 16, 5:30 p.m.
-    Film: Documentary short films on forest fires, Oct. 16, 7 p.m.
    To learn more, visit or call 726-9491.

New exhibit at the Center
WHAT: “Forests, Foraging and Fires.”
WHO: The Sun Valley Center for the Arts.
WHEN: Aug. 23–Nov. 12.
WHERE: The Center in Ketchum.
DETAILS: 726-9491.


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