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

Celebrating Kaitlyn

There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd as Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington took a well deserved seat Saturday and waited for the celebration to begin

There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd as Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington took a well deserved seat Saturday and waited for the celebration to begin

It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of people came out on Saturday to cheer for Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington. Everyone turned out to welcome home the Snowboard Halfpipe champion and to let her know just how proud of our hometown girl we all are.

On a late winter’s afternoon, the band Freeway Revival played while the enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a tasty barbecue and drink specials provided by Sun Valley on the patio outside Warm Springs Lodge. At 4 p.m., it was showtime as well-wishers, packed tight from the Lodge, across the bridge, and onto the lower slopes of Lower Warm Springs, turned their eyes toward the mountain for the colorful downhill parade that announced Kaitlyn was coming

The huge crowd at Warm Springs on Saturday was enthusiastic and festive while they waiting for the arrival of Kaitlyn Farrington -- our golden girl

The huge crowd at Warm Springs on Saturday was enthusiastic and upbeat while waiting for the arrival of Kaitlyn Farrington -- our golden girl

First, instructors from the Sun Valley SnowSports School put on a spectacle, serpentining and criss-crossing their way to the bottom of the hill. Sun Valley’s winter Olympians and Olympic coaches followed. The fine people representing Sun Valley included former Olympians Chuck Ferries, Jonna Mendes, Reggie Crist, Abbi Fisher-Gould and Sondra Van Ert.  Snowboard coaches from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), the program in which Kaitlyn grew up and remains a Gold Team member, Kaitlyn’s family and friends then preceded Sun Valley’s sweetheart. The SVSEF’s Jody Zarkos called play-by-play action leading up to the big moment when Kaitlyn rode the slope into the crush of her fervent fans. Scooped up by Whiz McNeal and Sean Glaccum of Sun Valley Ski Patrol, Kaitlyn, American flag in hand, was carried triumphantly to a stage in front of Warm Springs Lodge, where for the next hour, she was feted and celebrated and laden with gifts.

The parade in Kaitlyn's honor was a vertical one. Here, Sun Valley SnowSports insructors provide the first wave of skiers and riders down Lower Warm Springs, leading the way down for Kaitlyn who rode down last

The parade in Kaitlyn's honor was a vertical one. Here, Sun Valley SnowSports insructors provide the first wave of skiers and riders on Lower Warm Springs, leading the way for Kaitlyn who rode down last amid deafening cheers

Kaitlyn hopped onto the stage and surveying the scene (and it was a scene) commented, “Holy cow! I can’t believe the crowd that is here today!” Jody replied, “You earned this crowd,” and from there the celebration began in earnest.

Setting the tone for the procession of luminaries who came to honor Kaitlyn, Idaho state Senator Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), took to the stage to read a proclamation in her honor from the Office of Governor Butch Otter. The proclamation concluded, “Kaitlyn has achieved her goals with inspiring success. She has been an ambassador for Idaho and taught the world how to cowgirl up.”

Next, Ketchum mayor Nina Jonas said, “Kaitlyn embodies everything we hope and believe and try to be,” and jokingly offered her a necklace in trade for the impressive gold disc that hung around Kaitlyn’s neck.

Chris Koch, mayor Bellevue, Kaitlyn’s hometown in the Wood River Valley, renamed a portion of the bike path in her honor.

1998 Olympian snowboarder Barrett Christy, a friend and mentor to Kaitlyn, put the accomplishment in perspective. “The sport has progressed so much in the past five years with the level of women in snowboarding growing tremendously. Kaitlyn is responsible for that,” she said and continued, “You can’t learn attitude from a coach and that is what Kaitlyn has that sets her apart from the rest. That and her amazing style. That can’t be taught. It’s who she is.”

Kaitlyn was carried through the crowd by members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol

Kaitlyn was carried through the crowd by members of Sun Valley Ski Patrol

SVSEF snowboard coach Andy Gilbert kept the accolades coming. “Kaitlyn is a true original and always has been,” he enthused. “She has always been willing to work hard. In fact, her work ethic is second to none.” He, too, gave a nod to Kaitlyn’s style, calling her an “innovative rider” and simply saying how very, very proud he is of her.

During the few days Kaitlyn had at home (she left Sunday for her next competition), she made time to ride with local children, giving them the thrill of a lifetime. As Jody Zarkos said, “Kaitlyn’s ability to take obstacles and turn them into stepping stones,” truly inspired up-and-coming riders.  Rob Clayton, executive director of the SVSEF, agreed that what Kaitlyn teaches by example is invaluable. Calling her the “gem of the Gem State,” Rob said, “We tell our kids, ‘see that necklace that is hanging around her neck? You can have it around your neck, too, and in the same color if you work really, really hard like Kaitlyn did.’”

Everyone showed their appreciation for Kaitlyn with gifts that included a necklace in the shape of the state of Idaho from Jonas, an engraved golf putter and lessons (evidently she’s working on her game) from Koch and a standup paddle board for the off-season from Clayton.

But the biggest gift and a highlight of the ceremony came when Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva took to the microphone. After reading a heartfelt letter of congratulations to Kaitlyn from Sun Valley Resort owner Carol Holding, he and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns upped the ante. From Sun Valley, Kaitlyn was awarded a lifetime season’s pass and was presented with a huge rectangular gift wrapped in gold paper. Inside? A new sign reading “Kaitlyn’s Bowl.” The golden girls’ name will now grace the Bowl on Baldy formerly known as Farout Bowl.

Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns present Kaitlyn with the new trail sign that changes Farout Bowl on Baldy to Kaitlyn's Bowl

Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva and Mountain Manager Peter Stearns present Kaitlyn with the new trail sign that changes Farout Bowl on Baldy to Kaitlyn's Bowl

Finally, Kaitlyn returned to the podium simply to thank her hometown supporters. “It is my pleasure to be up here today and I am so thankful for it all,” she said. “Thank you for believing in me and thank you for helping me get to the Olympics. I want to share it all with you and share this gold medal with you.”

The crowd went wild.

Kaitlyn, preparing to be celebrated by luminaries, smiles at some of her biggest fans -- the children who she inspires

Kaitlyn, preparing to be celebrated by luminaries, smiles at some of her biggest fans -- the children who she inspires

The celebration continued well into the evening with a street party, more live music, great food and the raffling off of a new GNU snowboard autographed by Kaitlyn.

A great time was had by all.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn. Thank you for letting us share your moment in the sun.

–RES