Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Ketchum Arts Festival Boasts Many New Artists
Ronni Neumann says bags featuring birds are real popular.
Wednesday, July 7, 2021


Brooke Siedl has ensembled 200 pieces of pottery that double as art and functional dishware. Ronni Neumann creates tote bags, wallets and more out of Italian leather and felting material.

Phil Neely uses a pendulum to paint pictures. And Gwen Mesce makes balm from cottonwood.

These are among the new artists who will be showcasing their treasures at what’s shaping up to be one of the largest Ketchum Arts Festivals ever.

Brooke Seidl is constantly exploring new forms and looks.

The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 9-10, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 11, at Festival Meadows on Sun Valley Road.

The 22-year-old festival will feature more than a hundred artists, including some juried artists from elsewhere in Idaho. There’ll be live music and local beer pouring from taps, as well as a Kid’s Activity Tent. And pooches are welcome.

Here are a few of the artists you may meet:


Gwen Mesci’s sweet smelling salve has been known for centuries as the Balm of Gilead.

Brooke Seidl started Brookline Pottery in honor of the handmade functional pottery she has been churning out. This is her first show.

She started experimenting with pottery four years ago. But she plunged in feet first at the feet of the potters at Boulder Mountain Clayworks following her move to Ketchum last summer from Boise when her husband accepted a job with the City of Ketchum.

“I try to make things people want to use every day but elevate them with design and decoration,” she said.

One look at Seidl’s work and you can see she’s a fast learner. Her pieces are expertly crafted, and there is plenty of creative variety. She is, for instance, nuts about holes and dots—that’s apparent in bowls that can serve as a fruit bowl, a colander or simply a piece of beautiful art to display on a shelf.

Ronni Neumann says Italian leather is absolutely gorgeous.

“I’m obsessed with colored porcelain so I add stains and coloring to the raw clay,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to get when you fire it. It’s a guessing game—the glaze chain.”


Ronni Neumann came late to sewing after operating five floral shops and working on vegetable farm near Hamilton, Mont.

She took a sandal making class with Morgan Buckert after moving to Ketchum a few years ago and was an instant convert. She took a felting class at the Trailing of the Sheep Festival and now makes sophisticated leather bags featuring gorgeous Italian leather, as well as felted bags on which she has created the portraits of robins, blue flax and other images from nature.

Phillip Neeley recently began painting with a pendulum.

One room in the family house at the base of Bald Mountain is now bursting with sewing thread, leather pieces and other tools of the trade.

“I like doing things with my hands,” she said. “I hand cut everything, hand sew everything.”


Phillip Neeley has had a knack and a passion for art since he was young. But it was only recently that he had a vision of paint swinging from a pendulum.

He started using a pendulum as his paintbrush and liked the results.

“I only paint horizontally and I like to use the pendulum to paint within that frame,” said Neeley, a real estate investor when he’s not making art. “I like to have rules and one of the rules that I follow is that it’s art made with a pendulum. And I like it to be handled. It’s for people to touch.”


Gwen Mesce has long had a hand in the art world, working with her husband Kevin Fitzpatrick to create snazzy art designs for screen printed T-shirts, bags, baby outfits and greeting cards.  Now, as the mother of a two-year-old and an infant, she has become more and more conscious about well-being—something that led to her Bigwood Balm.

Mesce hand harvests cottonwood balm from the sap of the cottonwood bud.

“It creates a hormone known as Salicin, which is a pain reliever. I gave it to a friend who had a bad fall and she said I should sell it,” she said.

The balm has been used for those who have broken an arm falling off a ladder on even on Mesce’s own children when they take a tumble.

“It works great. And it smells great, too,” she said. “It smells like springtime by the river—a sweet earthy aroma.”

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