by Andy Kerstetter

With the 2017 total solar eclipse coming up in August as well as discussions by local municipalities to establish a Dark Sky Reserve in the Wood River Valley and Stanley Basin, many people’s thoughts are turning toward the night sky and the celestial objects it contains.

Policymakers, recreationists and astronomers aren’t the only ones with the night sky on their minds—artists of all stripes have focused on the dark expanse for years, and in recognition of the night sky’s prominence in art, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts will present a special art exhibition titled Night Watch. The exhibition will open Friday, June 30, and last through Aug. 26, at The Center at 191 Fifth St. E. in Ketchum.

There will be an opening celebration on Friday, June 30, from 5:30-7 p.m., at The Center, which will include complimentary refreshments and is free to the community.

“The night has long been a subject for painters, poets and photographers,” The Center stated in a release. “Evoking danger and excitement as well as mystery and awe, night is a time of renewal and change, altering form from sharp clarity to elusive shadows. Night is also a time of secrets, when prayers are whispered and rituals offer the promise of transformation.”

The exhibit will present the work of contemporary artists who expose the many ways that people’s lives and dreams are framed by night.

Contemporary artists whose work is in the exhibition are:

Peter Alexander, a celebrated sculptor and pioneer of the Light and Space movement in mid-20th-century New York City. His works in this exhibition are gouaches of stars and desert landscapes.

Vija Celmins, who is internationally recognized for her realistic works on paper, which are simultaneously recognizable and strange.

Anna Fidler, whose series of paintings titled Vampires and Wolf Men explores the night as an actor of transformation.

Vanessa Marsh, whose mixed-media images of the night sky are carefully crafted through a process involving drawing, painting and darkroom techniques.

Michal Rovner, whose art is made up of a combination of video, sound, sculpture and drawing. Her pieces in the exhibition are from a recent series that use shadowy images of an elusive nocturnal animal: the jackal.

Robert Zakanitch, who led the Pattern and Decoration movement in late-1970s New York. A continuation of his early approach can be found in this recent body of work, where decorative borders embellish softly rendered images of the moon and the night.

“Their work, alongside the work of two emerging artists from the West—painter Anna Fidler and photographer Vanessa Marsh—will provide varied, beautiful and provocative considerations of the night,” said Kristin Poole, artistic director at The Center. “This exhibition was planned to coincide with this summer’s eclipse and will surely underscore the unique relationship each of us cultivates with the sky.”

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