Culture, Mountain Style

Sun Valley is rightfully known for consistent, perfect vertical on our slopes; the best cross country skiing in the country; hiking and mountain biking and rock climbing. But Sun Valley is also famous for its thriving arts scene. Local galleries feature top artists that draw collectors from near and far. Renown speakers and performers grace stages and podiums year-round. The calendar is dotted with star-studded film festivals and conferences. The arts scene in this little town in the Idaho mountains offers so much that visitors are often surprised by the breadth and depth of cultural offerings.

One of the driving cultural forces in the Wood River Valley is the Sun Valley Center for the Arts (SVCA). This thriving organization is responsible for bringing highly sought after speakers, authors, performers, and bands to the area, year-round. Their winter programming is rich to say the least.

The Sun Valley Center for the Arts offers a terrific performing arts series including a performance by the high energy Las Cafeteras

The Performing Arts Series brings top-notch talent to the valley. Coming up on Tuesday, January 24, Brett Dennen entertains with his upbeat folk/pop originals at the Sun Valley Opera House. Not only is he sure to put on a great show, he, like many other Center artists, will spend extra time in the valley working with local students. Next, celebrate Valentine’s Day with International Guitar Night, North America’s premier acoustic guitar festival. The series concludes on April 7 with a performance by Las Cafeteras, an East-L.A. band whose unique genre-bending music and electric live performances fuse spoken word with traditional Son Jarocho sound and zapateado dancing, according to organizers.

The Center’s 2016–2017 Lecture Series that brings noted thought leaders and authors to the valley is also well underway. “This year’s Lecture Series highlights individuals who are responding to contemporary issues through their work and leadership,” said Katelyn Foley, The Center’s Director of Education and Humanities.

Case in point: on Thursday, February 9, P.W. Singer will speak at the Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum at 6:30 p.m.  Dr. Singer is the author of multiple award-winning books, and is a contributing editor at Popular Science. Described in the Wall Street Journal as “the premier futurist in the national security environment,” Dr. Singer is considered one of the world’s leading experts on changes in 21st-century warfare.

Author P.W. Singer is sure to offer a thought provoking presentation in Ketchum on February 9 as part of the SVCA Lecture Series

Then, on Friday, May 26, Arianna Huffington will speak in partnership with the Sun Valley Wellness Festival.  Huffington is the co-founder, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, and author of 15 books. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely-read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet. In 2012, the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

The Center also offers numerous classes and exhibitions at their downtown Ketchum gallery throughout the year.  For more information on programs, classes, lectures, concerts, and tickets, please click HERE.

Numerous theatre companies bring the vibrancy of live performances to the Wood River Valley year-round, including this one by the Company of Fools

If your tastes run to the theatrical, The Center also presents many compelling live productions in conjunction with the Company of Fools theater company. Recent productions have included Grey Gardens, Art, Grounded, and A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine. Constellations will be staged from February 15 through March 4 and promises an exploration of “one relationship, infinite possibilities.”

Numerous other theater companies also keep drama and comedy alive in the Wood River Valley. A newcomer to the arts scene, The Spot, is always on the cutting edge and “asks the big questions” with recent offerings including Spring Awakening and St. Terrible: The Gospel of Nothingness. The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek plays now through January 21.  nexStage Theatre offers play readings, musicals, dramas, and even Shakespeare throughout the year. All the theatre companies also cultivate local talent offering many educational opportunities for actors of every age and stage.

Love visual art? An easy, social, and fun way to check out Sun Valley’s many local galleries is during Gallery Walks sponsored by the Sun Valley Gallery Association. The seven yearly gallery walks are free to the public and a wonderful way to explore. Locals and visitors alike take in thought-provoking exhibitions of newly installed art during these walks, all while enjoying wine, mingling with friends, and even meeting the artists. The next two Gallery Walk dates are February 17 and March 10.

The seven yearly Gallery Walks are a great chance to see fantastic art, broaden your horizons, and enjoy a fun night out

For lovers of celluloid, Sun Valley offers film festivals for every taste. Coming up starting February 27, the popular Family of Woman Film Festival returns to town. Founded in Sun Valley in 2008, this important festival brings attention to the work of the United Nations Population Fund which works in more than 150 countries to make sure women and girls have access to reproductive health care, education, and basic human rights. Festival activities include a full schedule of thought-provoking and inspiring films, lectures, filmmaker retrospectives, even POV breakfasts. The festival “celebrates women who inspire change.”

In March, the Sun Valley Film Festival returns to the valley from the 15th to 19th. This star-studded, intimate, and energy-filled event includes Coffee talks, the Future Filmmakers Forum, concerts, parties, Screenwriters Lab, and much, much more. Past honorees have included Jodie Foster and Oliver Stone.  For more on the upcoming film festivals, please check back to this blog in February.

Sun Valley is becoming known for it’s fabulous film festivals including the Sun Valley Film Festival (pictured) and the Family of Woman Film Festival both of which happen each winter

Sun Valley is the best place to ski and ride, but it is also an authentic, real town with a thriving, innovative arts community. Come and enjoy both!

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