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SUN Airport to Throw Reception for New Art
Hunter Ervin, a senior at Wood River High School, brings “Stormy Skies Over the Snake River” to be hung at Friedman Memorial Airport ahead of Wednesday’s reception.
Sunday, May 5, 2024


Katy Anderson, longtime bread baker for Sun Valley Resort, was so excited about her trip to the Midwest to visit relatives that she arrived at Friedman Memorial Airport three hours early this week.

She might have been the only one there that early, given that it was slack season. But on this particular morning she found the Sun Valley airport a beehive of activity as artists brought in works, handing them off to workers hanging the 18th biannual SUN Art Exhibit at the airport.

“I’m loving it,” said Anderson. “I’m blown away by all the art. I saw the painting of the foxes and went ‘Ohmigosh, how beautiful.’ And it turned out the artist—Myriam Esther--was right there. And, beings I’m a big one for eagles and others birds of prey. I fell in love with Anne Jeffery’s work featuring bird feathers. It’s so awesome.”

Anette Wachter’s natural bison skull is embedded with tiny chukar feathers and desert plants. It sits next to Holbrook Newman’s “Parrot Tulip.”

Fifty-eight new art pieces went up on the walls of Friedman Memorial Airport this week. They will stay there until other works take their place next fall.

The airport staff invites the public to celebrate the artists at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, when it throws an Artist’s Reception featuring beer, wine and hearty hors d’oeuvres. It’s quite the social event-- like a Gallery Walk, only through the airport. And attendees will have their parking tickets validated.

“Everybody thinks it’s a fabulous program. Some of the people going through the airport and seeing these pieces might not go through a gallery. And some of the art gets sold,” said Gail Severn, who has overseen the exhibition since its beginning.

For the first time, a high school student and a middle-school student are showing works in the exhibition--their pieces are every bit as interesting as those of the veteran artists.

Sheila Summers helps Christopher Brown check in “Golden Evening in the Aspens,” one of two pieces by Melissa Graves Brown in the exhibition.

One of the young artists is Brooke Vagias, a 14-year-old eighth-grade student at Bellevue’s Waldorf school. Her claim to fame as an artist came when she created a Rumpelstiltskin tower for Sun Valley Resort’s inaugural Community Gingerbread Contest. She followed that up with a Magic Treehouse made out of pretzels with a licorice ladder and lifesaver wreath.

For the airport art she submitted a mosaic-looking piece titled “Sheep Wagon in the Boulders.”

“She is feeling very humbled to have been accepted into this art show!” said her mother, Jenna Vagias. “We were both blown away by the quality and diversity of the art. What a place we live!”

The other student Wood River High School senior Hunter Ervin, whose somewhat abstract “Stormy Skies Over the Snake River” just won Honorable Mention in the Idaho High School Arts competition. Ervin took a photo of the Snake River near Hagerman, then broke it into lines digitally before projecting it onto a canvas. tracing it and painting over the lines with acrylics

Marcelino Baeza and Emmet Kettleband set down Linda Christensen’s “Color Bars.”

“This is the first time I’ve submitted a piece for the airport exhibition,” said Ervin, who wants to become a tattoo artist. “I’m so excited.”

Friedman Memorial Airport started hanging art nine years ago in partnership with the Ketchum Arts Commission.

“Airports all over the country have revolving exhibitions,” said Severn.

Artists throughout Idaho are invited to apply, but the majority of the art pieces submitted are from  South-Central Idaho due to the logistics of getting works here, said Severn. Some local galleries also participate—Gail Severn Gallery, for instance, hung two of pieces this time around---Michael Gregory’s “Pale White Curtain” and James Cook’s “Sawtooth Spring.”

Ketchum artist Jini Griffith checks out Dennis Mitchell’s “Supper,” a painting of pronghorn framed by a bed frame.

The juried exhibition is open to all genres, including sculpture, photography and prints.

Severn and others do not come with a map denoting which works go where on the morning of the hanging. They wait until they see them in person and then determine what fits best in which corners and what pieces look best next to one another.

The number of artists displayed in the beginning was about half of what is chosen now, Severn said. The last exhibition boasted 62 works. This exhibition features 58 works.

The best part of this exhibit is its variety,” said Anne Jeffery, who has helped with the exhibitions since the beginning. “It really does have art for everybody.”

In fact, this exhibition features Anette Wachter’s natural bison skull embedded with tiny chukar feathers and desert plants alongside Melissa Grathwohl’s cute-as-ewe painting titled “Ewephoria” and Travis Amick’s stunning nightscape of “Autumn Nights in Sun Valley.”

Photographer Becky Smith’s “After the Rain” depicts aspen leaves seen through rain drops, while John Boydston has zeroed in on a hummingbird and Linda Peterson, a “Dancing Iris.”

Isabella’ Moore’s portrayal of a wizened fox framed by garden plants is juxtaposed with Fred Choates magnificent landscape of Little Redfish Lake and retired veterinarian Mark Acker’s “Antero Lake” painting

Mike Pepper contributed three paintings for this particular exhibition: “Silver Creek: Early Morning Light,” as well as those of rainbow and brown trout he has caught. He painted the first from a photograph he took of the early morning light cresting Point of Rocks while camping near Silver Creek.

“I’ve fished Silver Creek for 40 years—it’s magical,” he said. “And it’s an honor to be here. I love this valley and I love sharing my work with it.”

Deanna Schrell agreed: “It’s fun to have my work and everybody else’s work in a different venue than it would normally be seen.”

She’ll get no argument from John Shelly, one of dozens of airport workers at Friedman: “The art peps up the experience here. We have a lot of waiting so it’s nice for people to be able to wander around and take it in.”

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