KETCHUM — The Sun Valley Center for the Arts has announced the opening of a new visual arts exhibition, “Behind the Sagebrush Curtain: Women Modernists in Montana and Idaho.” It will be on view from Nov. 15 to Jan. 10 at the center, 191 Fifth St. E., Ketchum. Entry to the museum is always free.
“Behind the Sagebrush Curtain” includes prints, drawings, paintings and ceramics by seven 20th-century artists. Active in Montana were Gennie DeWeese, Edith Freeman, Isabelle Johnson, Helen McAuslan, Frances Senska and Jessie Wilber, with Sara Joyce active in Idaho. Working in a wide range of materials and styles, these artists were unified in their desire to marry the landscapes and subject matter of the American West with ideas and techniques that reflected their engagement with international modernism. Many of these women also served as teachers and mentors throughout their careers, influencing the work of younger artists in the Intermountain West for decades.
The exhibition takes its title from a recent interview with Donna Forbes, longtime executive director of the Yellowstone Art Museum and a personal friend of Isabelle Johnson whose paintings are included in the exhibition.
“Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail, Montana, posted the interview on its website,” Courtney Gilbert, curator of visual arts at the center, said in a statement. “In it, Forbes discusses Montana’s art scene in the 1950s and 1960s, describing her colleagues as feeling cut off from the major centers of the art world. She remembered a friend commenting that in Montana, artists were stuck behind the sagebrush curtain. But as the exhibition illustrates, artists in the West — despite their relative isolation — were actively working with modernist ideas. This exhibition focuses on women modernists whose work has been less widely exhibited than that of their male counterparts — women who were, in essence, working behind a second curtain.”
The following special events are associated with the exhibition:
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Free evening exhibition tours
- Nov. 21 — 5:30 p.m.
- Dec. 12 — 5:30 p.m.
- Jan. 9 — 5:30 p.m. Members of Sara Joyce’s family will be present to discuss her work.
Free gallery walks
- Nov. 29 — 4–6 p.m., Giving Walk
- Dec. 27 — 5–7 p.m.
For more information, call 208-726-9491 or go to sunvalleycenter.org.