Moveable Art

Anticipation was high Tuesday at the unveiling of a unique art piece -- a real gondola wrapped in original art

Anticipation was high Tuesday at the unveiling of a unique art piece — a real gondola wrapped in original art

For the next three months or so, a one-of-a-kind piece of art is on display at the Ketchum Town Center. It’s big, it’s beautiful and it was unveiled on Tuesday.

The unique artwork is actually a real gondola car from River Run, albeit a highly jazzed up version of the basic model. The car is wrapped in original art from local artist Ralph Harris and shows a picturesque scene of the Boulder Mountains. It will be the first art-covered gondola to go over Forest Service land in the country.

Kurt Nelson of the BLM, Jack Sibbach of Sun Valley Resort, Ketchum mayor Nina Jonas and artist Ralph Harris all celebrated the  arrival of the gondola at Ketchum Town Square

Kurt Nelson of the BLM, Jack Sibbach of Sun Valley Resort, Ketchum mayor Nina Jonas and artist Ralph Harris all celebrated the arrival of the gondola at Ketchum Town Square

“I created the art digitally and it was transferred onto a nylon wrap that covers the entire gondola car,” Harris explained. “It’s the same type of material that you see in town adoring KART buses. You can see through it from the inside.”

The goal was to create something to blend in with our gorgeous, natural mountain environment, not to stand out. This is even more important as in October, the car will rejoin the gondola fleet and will become a spectacular way to ride from River Run to Roundhouse.

Since Sun Valley Ski Resort is run on public land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, this outdoor art was a collaboration between Sun Valley Company, the BLM, the City of Ketchum Arts Commission and the U.S. Forest Service.

The artist, lifetime local Ralph Harris, is pictured in front of his creation with Mayor Nina Jonas. Care was taken so that the art would fit in with the area's beautiful natural environment

The artist, lifetime local Ralph Harris, is pictured in front of his creation with Mayor Nina Jonas. Care was taken so that the art would fit in with the area’s beautiful natural environment

At a ceremony unveiling the gondola, Kurt Nelson, district ranger of the Sawtooth National Forest joked, “I just told them no pink, no orange, no colors of the rainbow. We really wanted this to blend in with the environment.”

Harris, who can claim 44 years as a ski instructor with the Sun Valley SnowSports School and ancestors in the region dating back to 1881, was an obvious choice to create the special art. In fact, his Uncle Zeb worked on the first ski lift at the Resort.

The project was generously sponsored by David and Trish Wilson of Wilson Construction, longtime benefactors of the arts and supporters of the community.

And community is really what this project is all about. Jack Sibbach, Marketing Director for the Sun Valley Resort emphasized, “The company is very excited to be a part of this project. What we have accomplished shows what the community can do when we set our minds to it and come together for a common cause.”

A crowd gathered to inspect and enjoy the outdoor art installation

A crowd gathered to inspect and enjoy the outdoor art installation

The wrap looks like a painting, filled with beautiful detail depicting the Boulder Mountain range with the peaks covered in snow, as well as local flora and fauna.

“Sun Valley has always been a leader in innovative programming in the arts,” said Marybeth Flower who spoke on behalf of the Ketchum Arts Commission. “This forward-thinking vision has helped create this unique display of artwork by one of our leading local artists.”

Be sure to stop by the Ketchum Town Square to see the gondola for yourself, then be ready to see it whisking skiers and snowboarders up the mountain when the 2014-15 season commences in November. It is a head turner, indeed!

–RES

Sun Valley's own Julian Tyo brought inspiration for this project home from his recent European honeymoon with wife Katie

Sun Valley’s own Julian Tyo brought inspiration for this project home from his recent European honeymoon with wife Katie

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