Valley of the Arts 

Sun Valley offers a season of art and theater

Once upon a time in the West, art meant a carved leather saddle in the barn and an oil painting of an elk in the living room. Not that there's anything wrong with those, mind you, but nowadays, the Wood River Valley throws a lot more at you.

The Sun Valley Gallery Association will continue its long-standing tradition of monthly gallery walks. These strolls are to serious art gazing what Katz's Deli is to the French Laundry: really good and fun, but more about the socializing than hard-core gallery patronage. But that's how most folks like it. Visitors might find some gems along the way. Warhol? Check. Picasso? Check. Jian Bing Nie, William Morris, Julie Blackmon, Morris Graves? Check. Visit svgalleries.org for more info.

Among the highlights of the summer season is Papunya Tula Artists: Art from the Central Desert of Australia. This landmark Australian Aboriginal art exhibition, presented by Harvey Art Projects USA, will be hosted at the former home of the Anne Reed Gallery, 391 First Ave. N. in Ketchum, with an opening at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 2.

To help art lovers get in the spirit, the Community Library in Ketchum will host a film screening and discussion with Paul Sweeney of the Papunya Tula Artists on Thursday, July 1.

The 11th annual Ketchum Arts Festival will again be a standout of the summer arts scene, this year filling the Meadows in Sun Valley from Friday, July 9-Sunday, July 11. The show will include about 100 artist booths representing a variety of genres, as well as live music, activities for children and food and beverages. For more information, call 208-725-4090 or visit ketchumartsfestival.com.

Still, the grandpappy of arts festivals in the region remains the highly regarded annual Sun Valley Center Arts and Crafts Festival. Now in its 42nd year, the event will be held at Atkinson Park in Ketchum Friday, Aug. 13-Sunday, Aug. 15. Along with amazing array of artists from across the country, the festival features food, a kids' craft area, artist demos and live entertainment all weekend. For information, visit sunvalleycenter.org.

For patrons of the performing arts, the Sun Valley Shakespeare Festival will present the classic wilderness romp A Midsummer Night's Dream, Thursday, Aug. 19-Sunday, Aug. 29, in the appropriate setting of Forest Service Park.

The lighter side of Shakespeare will be offered up for roasting in Laughing Stock Theatre's production of the hysterically funny Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged by the Reduced Shakespeare Company (or The Compleat Wrks of Wlm Shkspr (Abridged), as the Sun Valley company is calling it). The farce will be staged Monday, Aug. 16-Wednesday, Aug. 25.

A comedy-murder-mystery will come in the form of The 39 Steps, the Tony Award-winning send-up of John Buchan's spy tale. Company of Fools will take on the fast-paced spy caper Tuesday, July 6-Saturday, July 31, at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. The company will get decidedly more serious in the fall, when it stages Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Wednesday, Oct. 13-Saturday, Oct. 30. For more information, visit companyoffools.org or call 208-788-6520.

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