Drive south on State Highway 75 and you’ll be cheered by several pieces of artwork. It makes the drive-if caught in traffic-a tad more bearable. One of the most welcoming sights as one approaches Hailey from the north is a large mural on the west side of the Sakura restaurant. Painted by Hailey native Lynsey Dyer, 22, it has been enhancing Hailey Nursery’s entrance since mid-June. Dyer, who graduated from the Wood River High School in 1999, attended Montana State University in Bozeman, is a graphic illustrator who also dabbles in wood cut print making and painting. She is also one of the country’s leading female freestyle skiers.
“I would be nothing without my athletics,” she said. “But I dream of making a living at art.”
She’s been in training this summer in Seattle and is looking for a new venue for the winter. “Where I can afford to live,” she said.
She has done some murals before, including one that is in the big workout room at the old Wood River High School in Hailey.
She got the opportunity to create another through her mother, Marcia Dyer, who is the manager of the Hailey Nursery.
“It was so fun, I’d love to do more. The owner gave me a lot of freedom to do whatever I thought.”
Dyer had spent a school year in Italy, which inspired this painting of rolling hills in Tuscany. “I drew it up there with acrylics and giant brush strokes It was really the process I enjoy so much, getting messy, having space and having the freedom to make it come alive the way I pictured.”
The Sun Valley Gallery has bought a few of her illustrations to sell, and Jane’s Paper Place is going to sell some of her original computer illustrations, which were done on Adobe Illustrator, a graphics software program.
However, all three of the small businesses–Chi Chi’s, Sakura and Hailey Nursery–line Main Street just south of Albertson’s and may soon be torn down to make room for a new multi-plex cinema.
If and when this happens this suggestion of Italy, this vestige of Old Hailey, this proof of homegrown talent will be lost.
Another uplifting sight on the highway are two mobile sculptures by valley resident Robert Kantor, in front of the Red Top Cabins, north of The Meadows.
Made entirely of steel they are called “Balance in Black in White,” and “Colorful Hearts.”
Kantor owns the land the mobiles are placed on. While transporting the “Balance” to places further afield, he left it on his land on a trailer for a few days while awaiting the required trip permit to continue.
“I began to get phone calls people saying ‘it’s great we love it.’”
The more feedback he and his welding partner Mary Garrett received the more he realized he had stumbled onto something: highway decoration.
“So I left it there and thought maybe I’ll bring another up. It’s a happy thing to do, as long as people like it, I’m delighted. It’s interesting being discovered in your own backyard.”
At his first Ochi Fine Art gallery show last year, many friends and acquaintances were amazed to discover that he was the featured artist. Subsequently, T-shirts made up saying, “Robert, the artist formerly known as Bob.”
Kantor has a full welding studio in Shoshone as well as a warehouse that holds at least 30 pieces. Ochi also has some large pieces in the Ketchum gallery. Kantor, who is also in real estate, has lived here for 14 years, started his art career in 1964.
“I was very influenced by Alexander Calder and studied him extensively. He was a master of moving beautiful forms through space. They’re playful and inspiring and a lot to do with the world, how we float in balance. Mobiles have beautiful parts that always come back to the same place after a series of extraordinary random movements.”
The mobiles will stay “until we do something else with the land.”
Meanwhile, south of Bellevue there’s “Makin’ Hay!” Supported by the Alturas Foundation and sponsored by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, the installation is of three large-scale, figurative sculptures constructed of steel and hay. The pieces by idiosyncratic figurative sculptor Tom Otterness were installed in May on a field provided by the owner, Dr. Mel Okeon, of Hanford, Calif.
“I came out to these huge fields in Montana and did drawings, using the bales as units, or building blocks, to make figures out of. It’s my combination of the Robert Smithson (an earthwork artist) and early Kazmir Malevitch (a pre-minimalist),” he said laughing.
“It’s workers in the field. The materials work together, it’s pretty straightforward.” Never mind the fact the figures are 17-feet tall.
Apparently, the farmers in Montana liked them but asked Otterness why they were female workers.
“We all know the gals do all the work out here,” Otterness, laughed in response.
“Makin’ Hay” is on loan from Otterness and the Marlborough Gallery in New York for a full year, having already been in its original home in Montana for a year. Otterness’ sculptures in this case were inspired by the “What the Hay” hay sculpture contest, now in its wacky 13th year in Utica, Mont.
While Highway 75 is one of the more beautiful drives to make on a daily basis for commuters, highway decoration adds a feeling of community. ‘Someone is thinking of us,’ drivers may ponder. They may also contemplate art a bit more, and wonder at the simple interdependence between humans, nature, art and commerce.
By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer