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Gallery Walk to Showcase Wildlife, Still Lifes and Horizon Lines
Thursday, August 31, 2023


Mike Pepper has been a fly fisher all his life, starting as a boy in Washington and continuing the art in Idaho where he moved in 1977, establishing homes in Sun Valley and Twin Falls.

He’s always been struck by the beauty of trout and the places they live. And, after retiring from his career as a transportation consultant three year ago, he’s tried to depict the beauty he sees while fishing in watercolor form in hopes others can share in his appreciation.

He has developed an array of watercolor works titled “Colors on the Fly,” some of which he will display during Friday’s Gallery Walk at Saddletree Gallery, 360 East Avenue in The Courtyard. Pepper will be on hand during the walk from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, to share a few tall fish tales.

Pepper tried watercolor painting at the suggestion of his wife Connie, a watercolor painter for 20-plus years.

“I took a run at it, trying to honor these fish and the beautiful places they live,” he said. “It’s been really fun. It provides me the opportunity to connect with people who have the same kind of appreciation. And it’s similar in ways to learning how to choose and tie flies for fly fishing, as there’s an endless amount of learning that goes on in terms of tools and techniques, brushes, colors and paints.”

Pepper paints the places the fish live, including the Big Wood River, Silver Creek, Big Lost River and Madison River. He recently created a unique series called “trout flies,” which marries trout flank colors with the insects they eat. For example, the Broth Drake” combines Silver Creek’s infamous brown drake mayfly with the flank of its brown trout. The “Rainbow Drake” depicts Henry’s Fork green drake mayfly with the flank of the rainbow trout.

“I typically base my landscapes on photographs I take so I get the images right in terms of what those places really look like,” said Pepper who also shows his work at Lost River Outfitters in Ketchum, Picabo Angler in Picabo and the Idaho Art Gallery in Meridian. “To paint the fish I have to study them enough to understand proportion and color and shape. You can easily tell if it’s right or not right.”

  • Gilman Contemporary, 661 Sun Valley Road, is showcasing the unique collaboration of husband and wife artists Erik Hall and Amy Spassov of Bellevue, Wash. Each work starts with Spassov, who paints an entire panel in a colorful motif, adding and subtracting images and marks with her acrylic paints as if she was assembling a puzzle. Once she’s filled most of the panel, Hall goes to work redefining her shapes and characters with a meticulous oil technique.

    The gallery will also show the slightly abstract paintings of Frances McCormack, who draws on the history of gardens and landscape design from places as far away as the walled gardens of Rome and the Alhambra in Spain.

  • Hemmings Gallery, 340 Walnut Ave., is featuring an exhibition by Frances Ashforth called “Lay of the Land.” Ashcroft, who divides her time between Sun Valley and Hartford, Conn., creates paintings, drawings and water-based monotypes that reflect the geography and geology of intersecting habitats that she has visited on flyfishing expeditions in wild unpopulated lands across the United States.

    She often orients her compositions along a strong horizon line, which allows her to explore the tension and balance between that line and the land, water and sky. She has exhibited internationally in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Canada, as well as the many places in the United States.

    She will be present during the opening night reception.

  • Gail Severn Gallery, 400 First Ave., will feature a selection of artwork by Jun Kaneko in a two-person exhibition with Kiki Smith. Kaneko’s work includes monolithic ceramic sculptures, paintings, wall platters and small scale works from his private collection.

    Smith’s new large-scale prints of majestic woodland creatures are adorned with gold leafing that brings her original mythology to life. Her monumental tapestries tell mystifying stories designed to uncover the spiritual within the natural world.

    The gallery will also showcase Linda Christensen’s oils, which catch people in a pensive place, such as picnicking on the beach. And it will feature botanicals that Kathy Moss has created using gesso and paint bodies from Renaissance recipes. Her flowers address issues of power and heirarchy.

  • Kneeland Gallery, 271 First Avenue N., will feature a group exhibition of still life paintings and sculpture from several of its artists. Featured artists include Ovanes Berberian, Lori McNee, Elizabeth Robbins, Steven Lee Adams, Shanna Kunz, William Berra, Eric Thompson, Ott Jones and Dave LaMure.

    Artists will be on hand to discuss their work.

  • Anderson Architecture, 320 1st Ave. N. on the second floor of the former Friesen + Lantz Gallery, is hosting new works by three artists: Tina Cole, Jineen Griffith and Shelly Swanson. Their work can also be seen during operating hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

    Tina Cole came to Sun Valley to teach skiing during the winter of 1972-73 while attending art school at the University of Washington. “I came for the winters, and I stayed for the winters,” she said.

    She specializes in plein-air painting, carrying a small watercolor box and pouch of sable brushes, ink pens, graphite and watercolor paper journals with her on hikes and climbs. Seven years ago, she began printmaking at Vita Brevis Press in Hailey, creating monotypes by applying printing inks with brushes in reverse mirror image onto plexiglass plates. She builds the image up with multiple applications of ink color, printing the image onto a single sheet of archival print paper countless times until the desired colors, values and effect are complete.

    Jineen Griffith moved to the Wood River Valley in 1979, drawn to the area by the beauty of the mountains and rivers. She, too, specializes in plein-air, painting outside in natural light.

    “I paint ‘ala prima,’ laying down a scene with rapid, broad-brush strokes sometimes completing a painting in under two hours. It often seems impossible to capture the elemental beauty of such places, but this illusiveness is precisely what motivates me,” she said.

    Shelly Swanson, a graduate of Fine Art from Boise State University, has shown her work in multiple group shows at The Crist Gallery in Boise and the Hewlett Packard Collection. "I paint what attracts me in real life: color, reflection, texture, in whatever and wherever I may find it!" she says.

  • Broschofsky Galleries, 360 East Ave., is featuring David Yarrow’s iconic photographs recreating famous scenes with wolves and lions, as well as Rudi Broschofsky’s contemporary holograms of the Old West.
  • MESH Gallery, 4th and Leadville Avenue, is featuring Sawtooth landscapes photographed by Jeffrey Lubeck.
  • Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Fifth and Washington streets, is showcasing works by Georgia O’Keeffe and others in “Hidden Gems: Sun Valley Collects.” The exhibition features works from private collections throughout the Wood River Valley.

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