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‘Two-Year Supply’ Offers Artists’ Interpretation of Farming in Magic Valley
Thursday, November 4, 2021


Lights bounce off a wall lined with Mason jars filled with Windex—beautiful turquoise-colored Windex—in the exhibition room of the Sun Valley Museum of Art.

Titled “Clean,” they represent the way in Rebecca Campbell’s mother turned to cleaning after she lost faith in her religion.

People turn to religion to make order, to make sense of their lives, Campbell told those who turned out for an artist’s talk at the museum a few days ago. And when she lost her faith in her religion, she lost a sense of control so she focused on cleaning as a statement of being in control in an environment that did not support women’s intellectual abilities.

Windex is both beautiful yet toxic, she added, just as it will give you an ulcer wanting to control things.

Rebecca Campbell is one of three artists whose works are depicted in the Sun Valley Museum of Art’s new visual arts exhibition “Two-Year Supply.”

Free tours of the exhibition, which runs through Jan. 8, 2022, will be held at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. tonight—Thursday, Nov. 4. To reserve a spot, go to Or, call 208-726-9491.

The exhibition derives its name from a sculpture Campbell created of peaches canned in water and sugar, representing the Mormon tradition of canning supplies of food in preparation for emergencies.

And it examines the history of farming families who settled in the agricultural communities of Southern Idaho, lured by advertisements portraying Idaho as a place of rich and fertile land, “perfect irrigation and never-failing crops.”

“It’s about people overcoming challenges to build communities,” said Courtney Gibert, the exhibition’s curator. “The artists participating in the exhibition have made work that invites visitors to engage with a part of Idaho that differs from the Wood River Valley in terms of landscape, culture, economy and history. But the farming towns of southern Idaho drive a significant portion of the state’s economy and its ‘Famous Potatoes’ reputation beyond the state’s borders. ‘Two-Year Supply’ offers all of us an opportunity to learn more about this part of Idaho, its fascinating history and the people who have worked its land in often challenging conditions.”

Campbell was inspired by the family history of her parents, who grew up on and worked on potato farms around Rupert, a town of 200 to 300 people at the time. They were those people digging those fields and eating those potatoes.

She named it “The Potato Eaters” after Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of the same name.

“Van Gogh said of ‘The Potato Eaters,’ that he wanted to make a picture of people eating the food they grew.’ My family was the people digging those fields and eating those potatoes.”

Campbell, who lives in Los Angeles, tried to evoke the land, the weather, the physical labor and the agricultural environment and social structures of the time in her work.

She painted black and white photographs of her family based on family photographs. A few depict Uncle Ralph, a tall, husky man who everyone assumed would take over the family farm. It was not to be as he  was shot down over Austria in World War II.

A tall-sized portrait of her father David Campbell is imposing, but he was barely six feet tall and considered the brain, the creative one, in the family.

He went on to tweak the potato sorter so that it more efficiently sorted potatoes by weight, instead of size, she said. And, though he thinks of himself as a salt-of-the-earth farm boy, he ended up moving to Salt Lake City where some family members moved to work for his engineering company.

In addition to Campbell, the exhibition features works by:

  • Photographer Alexis Pike, whose relative Annie Pike Greenwood wrote an honest account of the joys and hardships of farming in the Magic Valley from 1913 to 1928. Pike has captured the spirit of Greenwood’s book with contemporary photographs of life on the farms and in the towns of southern Idaho, pairing her images with passages from Annie Pike Greenwood’s “We Sagebrush Folks.”

    She also has included reproductions of the posters and propaganda used to convince potential farmers to settle the West after the Carey Act of 1894 transferred millions of acres of federal land to Western States on the condition they would oversee irrigation projects.

  • Photographer Steve Davis, who grew up near American Falls, documents how life has and has not changed in the years he moved away. International conglomerates now own most of the land where small family-owned farms informed his youth. And big-box stores have displaced small businesses. Still, there are some ways in which community life continues relatively unchanged.
  • Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee’s images of Japanese-American internees at Minidoka Internment Camp during World War II are featured in a revolving slideshow. The internees provided farm labor throughout southern Idaho while the farm owners went off to war.


The SVMoA will hold additional tours of “Two-Year Supply” at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9. The exhibition will also be featured in the Christmas Gallery Walk from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29.

There is no admission fee to see the exhibition from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Private tours in English and Spanish may be arranged by calling 208-726-9491.

The Museum is located at 191 Fifth Street East in Ketchum.

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