Sun Valley's Most Influential Leaders
For all its glam and glitter, Sun Valley is and always has been more about people than place. It's the people who really love and care about this place who make it so special. In honor of our 40th Anniversary Summer issue, we pay homage to and highlight the people who have made the arts, the culture and land around Sun Valley remarkable.
IN THIS SECTION
A Spark that Started a Fire [pg. 2]
This Mountain Valley Is Alive with the Sounds of Music [pg. 3]
The Little Surprise on Main Street [pg. 4]
There's Something About Bobby [pg. 5]
Pulling the Blinds [pg. 6]
Silver Creek's Legacy of People and Place [pg. 7]
Making a Difference [pg. 8]
A Spark that Started a Fire
The Artistic Revolution of Sun Valley
BY KATE ELGEE
When Glenn Cooper arrived in Ketchum in 1968, straight from the noisy streets of L.A., recently widowed and towing five young children, she found a small mountain town with dirt roads and one stop sign. “It was mostly hippies, ranchers and ski bums back then,” she said. “I fell in love.”
A classy woman, well connected in the California art world, she settled in amongst the sheepherders and snow-capped peaks. Even though her children—all under the age of 15 (one of whom, Christin Cooper, would become an Olympic silver medalist)—raised their eyebrows, she built a house on Bitterroot Road in Ketchum and made camp for the next 40 years.
Over the decades, this remarkable woman would forever alter the face of our small community. A cultural tour de force, Glenn had already organized and founded the first volunteer docent council in the United States at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and was named L.A. Woman of the Year in 1965 by the Los Angeles Times, before going on to spark an artistic revolution in Idaho, taking Ketchum from a dusty mining district to a nationally-renowned epicenter for the arts.
A few years after Olympic ski team member and founder of Snowmass, Bill Janss, purchased the Sun Valley Resort, he asked Glenn to start an art institute for him. “I said no. I won’t. I’m exhausted. I just want to be with my children, and that’s why I’m here,” Glenn explained.
The pair had been family friends from their days in Southern California, sharing an enthusiasm for art collecting and curating. Bill had big plans for Sun Valley, so Glenn finally gave in to his requests. “Fine, I’ll do your art project,” she told him. “But I want to do it my way, the community’s way. I knew I didn’t want it to be like Aspen.”
She started small. At the time, there were only a few artists quietly producing work in the Valley, but without anywhere to sell. So she opened the Potato Gallery in the Sun Valley Resort Village (where the Sun Valley Gift Shop is now). “That’s where we did everything,” she explained, “out of that little place.” It was the first hub, or “center,” for arts in Sun Valley, and people gravitated to it like moths to a flame.
Glenn then took her project into a few local schools, like Hemingway Elementary. “We had five subjects. Julie Atkinson taught multimedia. Gordon Webster taught ceramics,” Glenn recalled. “We also had photography, weaving and painting. From there, it just took off.”
Realizing she had outgrown the cramped Potato Gallery, Glenn asked Bill for more space: “I explained to Bill, wonderful Bill, that we needed a location and he took me to where the Sun Valley sled dogs were kenneled, near the horse stables, and waved his arm. He said, ‘You can have all of this.’”
It was on this very 6.7-acre property (now the modern-day Community School) that the Sun Valley Creative Art Workshops first began. And from within this campus, Glenn stoked the glowing embers of an artistic movement.
“This was a great time for the Sun Valley Center, in the ’70s,” she said. “That was when all these really wonderful artists came out. We had amazing teachers like Jim Romberg and Sheri Heiser and Walt Jones from the Yale Theater Group. We took over the Quonset hut, where LA Dance came, and Robert Ketchum taught at Dollar Cabin. Artists, who were the most famous in the country at the time, flooded to Sun Valley. Bill let us have the ski instructors' facilities to house the students and the whole town became an art center in the summer. I can’t tell you what an exciting time it was—it was just so rare that this was happening in such a small town.”
Artists like Annie Liebovitz, Peter deLory and Paul Soldner came to see what was happening on the fields and riverbanks of a small town in Idaho, where rumors spread like wildfire of a movement underway. Over 500 students filtered in throughout the summer and in 1970 “the Center” was formally founded as a nonprofit.
From this incubator of ideas would spring the modern-day Sun Valley Summer Symphony, the Sun Valley Gallery Association, the annual Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival, the Summer Concert Series, Plein Air Projects, Ketchum Arts Festival and local artists like Mariel Hemingway, Carol Glenn and Tina Barney.
When Jim Belson took over in 1973, he changed the name to the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities (what is now called the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, or SVCA).
Gail Severn, who had worked at the Potato Gallery in the early ’70s, opened one of the first art galleries in Ketchum in 1976, followed shortly by Diane Kneeland, Barbi Anne Reed and many more. “It was Bill Janss who encouraged me to open my own gallery,” said Gail. “Without question, Bill and Glenn were my mentors.”
Glenn explained, “I will always credit Bill for creating what he called ‘the total community,’ a place where all of the human needs were met—not only spiritually and physically, but the more ethereal, creative and artistic sides. That’s what he believed fulfilled a human being. That was his vision for Sun Valley.”
After Bill’s wife, Anne, died in an avalanche accident out Trail Creek (skiing with Glenn, as fate would have it), tragedy brought them together. Friends for 40 years, these two married in 1973.
Soon thereafter, things came to a sudden halt for the SVCA. Oil billionaire Earl Holding bought the Sun Valley Resort from Bill Janss and the community of vagabond artists that had collected for the summers was uprooted—shooed out of the resort buildings and housing apartments where they had set up shop. Earl Holding had a different vision for Sun Valley.
“Earl has done so many great things for the community,” said Glenn. “He just had different ideas, and he didn’t have the space for us anymore. I don’t blame him for that.”
The students packed up their paintbrushes, their ballet shoes and their clay pots and left town. Many of the artists moved back to their homes across the country. Some drifted to larger cities where new movements were underway, closing the doors on what would be Ketchum’s, and Idaho’s, most significant artistic renaissance.
The effects of that decade, however, would ripple throughout our art community for years to come, and the ideas ignited by Glenn would pulsate into the rest of the state like a beating heart.
“If Glenn and Bill had not started the Center and not had the vision to encourage young art professionals to move here, this would be a very different community,” said Kristin Poole, the current artistic director for the SVCA. Kristin gravitated to the Valley in 1983, drawn, like so many others, by the Center. “They have made it not only a recreational destination, but a destination for arts and culture as well.”
Today, Sun Valley now has nearly 30 art galleries and exhibition spaces. The newly established Wood River Valley Studio Tour connects over 50 local artists up and down the Valley, and more emerging art shows like Death to Day Jobs are popping up regularly.
The SVCA, now located on 5th Street in Ketchum, with a second location in Hailey, has plans to expand to an even larger building. They also recently merged with the Company of Fools, a local theater production company, and continue to bring world-famous artists and thinkers, like Salman Rushdie, Gloria Steinem, E.O. Wilson and Terry Tempest Williams, to the Wood River Valley. In 2006, they were given accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums and remain the largest arts organization in the state.
Glenn is still an advisory member on the board at the SVCA, but she now lives in the small town of Tetonia, Idaho, with the rolling agricultural fields and a view of the Teton Mountains. “It’s mostly ranchers and farmers here,” she said. “It reminds me of Ketchum when I first arrived in the ’60s.”
Sun Valley is now almost unrecognizable from those early days, she said. “But that’s ok. That’s good. That’s how resorts develop. It has become the arts center of Idaho, there’s no doubt about that. And the beauty of it is you can still go into the mountains, hiking and biking. It really has become a total community.”
Glenn returns to Sun Valley often, but she has passed on the proverbial torch to those like Kristin Poole, Gail Severn and Dennis Ochi, who continue to grow Sun Valley’s art community, drawing in new, young and emerging artists every day.
“I still check on things when I’m in town,” said Glenn.
Wife of actor Scott Glenn, Brooklyn-born Carol Glenn studied ceramics at the SVCA under longtime mentor Jim Romberg. She’s had a lifelong passion for ceramics and her new self-titled book, pictured above, was published locally and captures the evolution of her success.
A student of Seattle-based Dale Chihuly, William Morris is considered a revolutionary master glassblower. His work, inspired by archeology, nature and historic/pagan culture, has been represented by the Friesen Gallery in Ketchum for over 20 years.
The critically-acclaimed Jane Wooster Scott has used her bright colors and imaginative compositions to capture the “good old days” of 20th-century America, including Sun Valley—painting everything from ice-skating and Bald Mountain to Grumpy’s.
German-based painter, Mario Reis, began working with water and canvas in Paris in the 1970s. Since then, he has traveled to almost every continent, documenting the world’s waterways with natural materials. Reis first came to Idaho in 1992 to "paint" Idaho’s pristine rivers and has been exhibiting locally at the Gail Severn Gallery for over 20 years.
Tony Foster paints tales of journey, or what he calls the “culture of the route.” An Englishman by birth, his paintings as an adventurer and preservationist seek to protect the natural beauty of the world’s greatest wildernesses (including those in Idaho).
Internationally renowned artist David McGary, known for his bronze sculptures of Native Americans, found a home in Sun Valley with his wife and daughter many years ago. McGary studied sculpture in Italy before returning to the U.S. and captivating the Western art world for over 30 years. He passed away last October in Arizona.
Rod Kagan, who has been hailed as one of Idaho’s greatest artists, lived in Sun Valley for almost 40 years before his death in 2010. His bronze and steel sculptures, some 25-feet-high, can be spotted not only up and down the Wood River Valley, but in 38 major cities throughout the U.S.
This Mountain Valley Is Alive with the Sounds of Music
Symphony Celebrates 30 Years
BY DANA DUGAN
Alasdair Neale’s conducting has been called inspired and his leadership is unrivaled. The Miami Herald once wrote that for “sheer musical insight and artistic command, this gifted conductor sets a standard that is hard to surpass.”
It’s been 20 years now since the then-30-year-old conductor replaced the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s beloved founder, Dr. Carl Eberl. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, to musical parents, Neale was always smitten with music—not just playing it, but dissecting it.
“Music was always part of the furniture for me,” he said. “I started very early. I played in a youth orchestra, and fell into conducting through studying scores and music, mostly from an anatomical perspective, wanting to understand how a piece is put together.”
At 14, he joined the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain as a flutist. As he explained, “I had never been part of something that was so good. I realized this had to be for the rest of my life. It was like scales falling from my eyes.”
After graduating from Cambridge University, he attended graduate school at Yale University. Neale eventually became the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s conductor before spending a dozen years with the San Francisco Symphony.
Neale’s enthusiasm and love for music is infectious. One can understand why he’s had such success with musicians and music lovers, and has such a passion for Sun Valley.
“When I tell people what we do here, they’re blown away,” he said. “You have this national all-star team, a-list soloists, a multi-million-dollar pavilion, and you know what else? It’s free. They fall over.”
Neale is also the conductor of the Marin Symphony and is the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s principal guest conductor, but there’s something downright magical about the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. As he explained, “This orchestra has in spades visceral energy and palpable joy in performing. I think it's one of our greatest assets.”
SUN VALLEY SUMMER SYMPHONY
“We’re all grown up now,” said Jennifer Teisinger, the executive director for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony (SVSS), about the free symphony’s 30th anniversary. The symphony is unique in that it culls musicians from many other symphonies for its annual summer run at the Sun Valley Pavilion.
Musicians join the 115-member SVSS by invitation only. If there is an opening, symphony conductor Alasdair Neale asks the principal of the section for a recommendation. Returning musicians have a reunion of sorts, which some refer to as “extreme music camp.”
“They love to play with people they see every summer,” Teisinger said. “The other thing that makes us special is this community. The audience is so warm and appreciative and they love the musicians.”
Headliners for this season include soprano Renee Fleming and violinist Joshua Bell. There will be a visiting electronica composer, rising star Mason Bates, and world-renowned pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, who picked out a brand new Steinway piano for SVSS in Hamburg. A donor/board member helped buy it as a 30th anniversary birthday present.
“We want to be hip, relevant and accessible to anyone who wants a live classical experience, and we want people to feel connected,” Teisinger said. “It’s really special. We’re making the community a better place year-round.”
Dick Brown founded the Caritas Chorale in 1999, to “bring the best in chorale/orchestral literature to the Wood River Valley,” he said. Caritas Chorale performs several times a year at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood, St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum and the Community Campus in Hailey. They also perform an annual pops concert outdoors and a pops concert at the Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, as well as a benefit for The Hunger Coalition in December. The chorale consists of between 60 to 100 singers from the Wood River Valley, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls.
REGGAE IN THE MOUNTAINS
Dubbed the “Greatest Show on Snow” by its founder and organizer, Danny Walton, Reggae in the Mountains celebrates Sun Valley’s ski culture while attracting a younger demographic to our community.
“This is the only on-snow reggae event that happens in the country,” Walton said. “The original idea started six years ago to celebrate Bob Marley’s birthday, and we continue the tradition.” A tradition that now includes bringing top-notch reggae musicians from around the globe to Sun Valley for a concert every summer and winter.
NORTHERN ROCKIES MUSIC FESTIVAL
Founded in 1977, the Northern Rockies Music Festival is the popular, annual two-day show held at Hop Porter Park in Hailey. The very family-friendly festival is jam-packed with talent culled from regional and national musicians and features about 10 bands. There are also lots of food and art vendors, or you can bring your own beverages and snacks or picnic.
The festival also supports young musicians by helping fund Wood River High School music students with travel expenses for competitions, as well as inviting young musicians on stage to debut their music.
The line-up for this August’s show includes local favorites Sheep Bridge Jumpers, 12-year-old troubadour sensation Sammy Brue, Portland’s popular Jimmy Robb Band, Smoke ‘n’ Blues from New Orleans and headliner and Mississippi-native bluesy rocker Paul Thorn.
Ketchum has always had a party reputation and Ketch‘em Alive, a weekly, free, outdoor concert series, keeps up the tradition. Run by Will Caldwell Productions and sponsored by community businesses, residents and the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber Visitors Bureau, the free shows are now 15 years old. Held Tuesday evenings at the Forest Service Park in Ketchum from June through August, the musical line-up offers reggae, world beat, Americana, folk and rock. "Once bands come to Ketchum, they love it, and they want to come back," Caldwell said.
Caldwell also produces the Ketchum Town Square Series on Thursdays throughout the summer, and Jazz in the Park on Sundays in Ketchum’s Rotary Park.
SUN VALLEY JAZZ JAMBOREE
Jazz, like folk music, can take on a variety of personas. Sometimes it's syncopated, sometimes it bops. Often it swings, and quite frequently it induces dancing. The Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree turns 25 this year and “dancing” might as well be its middle name.
For five days each October, 40 bands play at 10 venues around Ketchum/Sun Valley. Founded by Boise residents and jazz lovers Tom and Barbara Hazzard, the event has evolved over the years. “We now include other styles of American music such as zydeco, Western swing, big band swing, rhythm & blues, cabaret and gypsy jazz,” said Carol Hazzard Loehr, co-director of the Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree with her husband Jeff. “There is music for every musical taste bud.”
THE SUN VALLEY ARTIST SERIES
The Sun Valley Artist Series is dedicated to the promotion and encouragement of classical music. The annual winter and spring series offers performances by visiting artists at the beautiful Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum. The series also includes pre-concert lectures held at Ketchum’s Community Library, master classes, recitals, seminars and presentations in local schools by an impressive line-up of participating local and national artists, which have included pianist Misha Dichter, guitarist Sharon Isben, The Italian Saxophone Quartet, The Claremont Trio, pianist Peter Henderson and cellist Ben Hong.
SUN VALLEY OPERA
Sun Valley Opera (SVO) takes things to another level, a higher octave and all with a more passionate style! Founded in 2001, SVO seeks to bring quality opera to the Wood River Valley through an annual four-day Winter Festival and Summer Benefit Concert at the Sun Valley Pavilion.
SVO also hosts an international vocal competition in Seattle each year, library lectures, salon concerts and “Season of the MET HD” live broadcasts. This summer’s performances include “The Fab Four” Beatles tribute and a “Diva Party” featuring highly–acclaimed soprano Jennie Litster.
The Little Surprise on Main Street
Denise Simone and the Company of Fools
BY PATTI MURPHY
There are nearly 2,400 miles between Hailey, Idaho, and Richmond, Virginia, where Denise Simone and a small group of passionate actors and directors founded the Company of Fools (COF) theatre group in 1992. But in 1996, at the encouragement of an old high school friend named Bruce Willis, co-founders Simone and Rusty Wilson headed west and relocated the COF in Hailey, where it took up its new residence in the Liberty Theatre.
Simone admits that, at first, she wasn’t sure about making the move to Idaho, but today she feels blessed to live in a community that has completely embraced and supported the COF for nearly two decades now.
Coming from a family who placed a deep, almost reverential value on the arts helped Simone to develop her love of theatre early. Since her career began in 1981, Simone has performed in approximately 65 different plays and has had four of her own plays produced in the United States. As an actor, she has immersed herself in a wide range of performances including the demanding one-woman show, “The Syringa Tree,” which required her to play 32 different roles of both genders, various races and ages ranging from 7 to 98.
Simone also wears the hat of director, administrator, teacher and fundraiser. She has served on the Idaho Commission on the Arts and on the board of directors for the Wood River Arts Alliance.
Each season, the group produces five different shows and pulls professional actors in from all over the country to work alongside its core group of local actors. “Some people who come to our performances don’t expect a professional theatre company to be here,” she said. “We’re the little surprise on Main Street.”
The company is also committed to theatre education for youth and adults. One of its programs, "Stages of Wonder," uses theatre to help children in grades one through five explore their own creativity. The program is now in its 17th year.
The COF has been well-recognized for its work both onstage and off. In 2000, it became the first theatre in Idaho's history to receive Constituent Theatre status from the Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the professional, non-profit American theatre. In 2004, the company was a recipient of the Idaho Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and in 2009 it was awarded Arts Advocate of the Year by the Sun Valley/Ketchum and Hailey Chambers of Commerce.
“We try to connect everything, listen to patrons and interact with them so we’re not creating in a bubble. We’re creating as part of a community,” she said. “The only way the arts can truly survive in our small town is if our community truly embraces it and, indeed, it has over the past 18 years. We’ve been very blessed that way.”
SUN VALLEY BALLET
When she was a child growing up in Austria, Nadja Hirner wanted more than anything to dance ballet like her mother. But with no ballet school in her small town of Kufstein, she never had the opportunity. Instead, she went to fashion design school and became a professional tailor.
Hirner moved to Sun Valley in 1982, working first as a nanny and then doing tailoring and alterations. In 1990, she began volunteering with the Sun Valley Ballet School (SVBS) and with her background in design and tailoring, she soon became the school’s costume coordinator. From scratch, she created all the dancers’ costumes, some of which can take two to three weeks to complete. In 2002, she became the school’s director.
Established in 1978, SVBS offers dance education and performance training to between 120 and 140 dance students ranging in age from 3 to 18. Approximately 40% of the students receive scholarship funding from the school.
Every December, dance students ages 4 and up perform a full-length ballet. The school also produces a free Biennial Children’s Series for all elementary school children in Blaine County and an annual Spring Showcase, which gives dancers an opportunity to perform other genres such as jazz, modern and hip hop.
SUN VALLEY ICE SHOW
The Sun Valley Ice Show began modestly in 1937 on a small, outdoor sheet of ice on the grounds of the Sun Valley Lodge. Today, it has grown into a dazzling summertime event that showcases the world’s greatest skating champions and Olympic medalists. Spectators may enjoy the show from either the Lodge terrace or in rinkside seating under the starry summer sky. - Patti Murphy
STAR STUDDED SUN VALLEY
From Sun Valley’s glamorous opening in 1936, when movie stars like Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable attended, to today, Sun Valley’s had a long connection with Hollywood.
Besides the overall class and user-friendly mountains that mark this little slice of heaven, part of Sun Valley’s appeal for celebrities is how they get treated around here: Just like everyone else. Everyone who loves Sun Valley is, after all, pretty awesome in his or her own way, anyway.
That’s why we don’t gawk, harass or get star-struck—with the exception of whenever our editor sees Jamie Lee Curtis!
It’s tough to say exactly why so many celebrities love Sun Valley. But Drew Barrymore, Clint Eastwood (who has said, “I love Sun Valley Magazine.”), Mariel Hemingway, Bobby Farrelly, Demi Moore and Tom Hanks, to name-drop a few, must fall in love with Sun Valley for the same reason the rest of us do. There’s just something magical about this place.
Jodi Foster may have summed it up best when she spoke at a fundraiser for the Company of Fools: “Can I just say I love Idaho. There’s just something so touching about this community. So I keep coming back … it’s just a special place!”
FROM SUN VALLEY TO HOLLYWOOD
We know starlet Genevieve Cortese (now Padalecki) from growing up in Sun Valley and attending the local Community School before heading off to New York to pursue a career in acting. But most others know her from the big screen—either the popular ABC series “Wildfire,” “Supernatural” and “FlashForward” or her recent film, “Hated.” In 2010, she came home to Sun Valley to have “the perfect winter wedding” with her beau, Jared Padalecki, star of the CW’s “Supernatural,” “Gilmore Girls,” and the films “House of Wax” and a 2009 remake of “Friday the 13th.” They now have two children together and live in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Idaho-born Tara Buck went from Hailey's Wood River High School, under acting teacher Bob Kesting, to Hollywood in no time flat. Before attending the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts and landing a recurring television role on the popular series “Party of Five,” Tara worked summers as a lifeguard at the Elkhorn Pool. Today, she is better known for her role as the barmaid “Ginger” in HBO’s hit show “True Blood,” but she is no stranger to independent films, starring opposite Willem Dafoe, Stephen Dorff and Michelle Monaghan. She and her husband now live in L.A. and co-own a boutique California wine label called "Ledbetter."
With a mission to support “educational, multicultural, philanthropic and community events,” the nexStage Theatre has been one of Ketchum’s main performing arts centers since 1992. A non-profit organization, they host music, dance and theater performances, as well as educational dramatic arts classes year-round. Home to the Sun Valley Shakespeare Festival and a three-week Summer Performing Arts Camp in July, the nexStage annually attracts over 30,000 local residents to plays, concerts, workshops and recitals. Additionally, over 500 students take advantage of the art-related scholarships, opportunities and quality after-school programs every year.
The Liberty Theatre on Main Street in Hailey has quite a history. What started as a 1930's movie house was then purchased by superstar Bruce Willis, renovated in 1996 and now serves as home to Idaho’s award-winning Company of Fools Theatre Group. Denise Simone and partner Rusty Wilson first re-opened the theatre with “Diary of a Mad Man,” which cost $5, followed by Sam Shepard’s play, “Fool for Love,” which starred Willis himself.
There's Something About Bobby
Bobby Farrelly’s Ketchum Connection
BY JON DUVAL
In the rest of the world, Bobby Farrelly is known for teaming up with his brother, Peter, to write and direct some of the funniest movies of the past two decades. Starting with “Dumb & Dumber” in 1994, the pair has created a string of films that continue to be quoted by a generation, including “There's Something About Mary,” “Hall Pass” and “Me, Myself & Irene.”
In Sun Valley, however, Bobby is also known—and perhaps just as well respected—for strapping on the goalie pads to stand between the pipes for the Sun Valley Suns Hockey Team. The Rhode Island native played goalie for RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and has been skating with Sun Valley’s men’s hockey team, off and on, for the 25 years he has been coming to the Valley.
“I give full credit to my lovely wife, Nancy, who was then my lovely girlfriend, for bringing me here,” Bobby said. “I fell in love with the skiing and mountain biking, but it was while having a drink at the Duchin Room, I stepped out back and heard a hockey game going on and thought, ‘Wow, this place really does have my name written all over it.’”
This past winter, he was forced to spend less time on the ice as he worked to edit “Dumb & Dumber To,” the sequel to their initial smash hit (although, perhaps surprise smash hit would be a more accurate descriptor), which hits theaters later this year.
“I originally went out to L.A. in the ’80s trying to sell round beach towels, you know, so you wouldn’t have to move your towel around to chase the sun,” he said. “Turned out we weren’t good businessmen! While we were tanking, we started waiting tables and bartending and bought a book on screenwriting.”
From that point, it took another decade of writing and selling scripts before they finally decided to get behind the cameras themselves in order to see one of their stories make it to the big screen.
After scoring Jim Carrey to star in the film (who was still somewhat unknown since his later hits, “Ace Ventura” and “The Mask,” had yet to be released), the pair thought about changing the name of “Dumber & Dumber” so as to not scare away other actors from the film.
“We were sure (the studio executives) were going to come in and fire us,” Bobby said, laughing. “We were pinching ourselves the entire time.”
Twenty years later, both Carrey and his co-star, Jeff Daniels, have gone on to star in numerous major motion pictures and television series, expanding their range well beyond the role Daniels once described to Bobby as, “these guys are dumb and don’t know how dumb they are.”
Beyond having some of the world’s most famous actors star in their films, the Farrelly brothers are also well known for casting friends and family in bit parts, as well as prominently featuring Sun Valley Suns paraphernalia, such as Jason Sudeikis’ hat in “Hall Pass” or a large banner in Ben Stiller’s sports store in “The Heartbreak Kid.”
“Dumb & Dumber To” will potentially be taking it one step further, with former Suns veterans Frank Salvoni and Dave Stone set to appear as extras. While Peter still has to finish his edit, Bobby is fairly confident the pair of Suns skaters will make the cut.
“They were as good as any other background nincompoops,” he joked.
Pulling the Blinds
Ridley Pearson Gets Lucky in Sun Valley
BY RIDLEY PEARSON
The first thing I learned was to pull the blinds. Writing in the Sun Valley area is a blessing and curse — the curse being that one look out the window and a hike or a run down the wintry slopes of Baldy comes to mind. The blessing, well … Let's get real.
My writing career began in earnest at the kitchen table of my parents' second home outside of Bellevue. I had retreated there on my brother’s suggestion after spending 11 years on the road as a folk rock musician. Not that I knew it was a career beginning; it was a passion. I worked at Moritz Hospital as a housecleaner—cleaning the OR and the ER—as a freelance trade magazine writer (Robotics World, Arthritis Information Magazine, and other national treasures) and the bass player in several barroom bands. During the days, I pulled the blinds.
I spent my time as a spy in Canada, a musician in Seattle, a cop, a lawyer. I piled up rejection slips. Passions have a way of making one passionate. I couldn’t help myself. I began on a manual typewriter. According to the Wall Street Journal, I discovered I was among the first 250,000 people in the U.S. to own a personal computer. Mine was a Radio Shack, with a PCM operating system, and a cassette deck for “storage.” I wrote so much that the cassette deck broke. To keep it running, I had to stab a Q-Tip into the PLAY button. I still have a box of cassette tapes with early books on them. I graduated to a machine with a floppy disc the size of a Frisbee, then a “portable” Compaq computer that weighed more and was bigger than a Singer sewing machine (I freaked out a flight attendant by traveling with it. She’d never seen one. Miraculously, it fit beneath the seat with a shove.) I was a cyclist, a killer (on paper only). In fact, I was several killers.
It took eight-and-half years in all, but I sold a novel. I ran around the yard screaming and jumping in a euphoria I’m not sure I’ve ever felt since. After that scream, all elk were scared from the Valley; no duck was seen for over a year. That kind of scream. A published author. No Hemingway, was I. No John D. Macdonald. No Ken Follett or Robert Ludlum. But published.
I got lucky, as happens in careers when you work 14 hours a day passionately. My fourth novel was a national bestseller. Research for a subplot in the novel went on to solve a real homicide! I was awarded a midlife Fulbright at Oxford. I was invited to join up with some other best-selling authors in a one-time musical performance to benefit First Amendment rights. The band has been playing for 22 years now and includes Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan and many others. I got lucky.
Anyone in the “arts” looks back and wonders “what if?” We crash or tiptoe through life and, as is the expression, “When you reach the fork in the road, take it.” The smallest decision can change everything forever. Moving to the Sun Valley area was a whim. I was planning on five months, then back to the East Coast and more music. I stayed over 20 years, and now keep a second home in Hailey.
I was lucky—there’s that word again—to be in the area when Reva Tooley and Gordon Russell were putting together the Sun Valley Writers' Conference. I was thrilled and honored to be asked to be a part of the early meetings to get it going. I brought some of my fellow bandmates out, including Stephen, Amy and Dave. I’ve since reached out to others helping to fill spots as needed. Scott Turow is coming this year, a recent addition to the band. Attending the conference is not a hard sell, as it’s regarded as being among the top two or three writers’ conferences in the world (from the author’s point of view). Sure, there’s the setting, but the organizers did something brilliant from year one: they gave the authors dinners at private homes with only their fellow authors. This rarely happens at such events. Those dinners have introduced me to some amazing and gifted writers whom I now call friends, the late Frank McCourt among them—another we recruited into our crazy band. These are writers I learn from; friendships I treasure. “It happened in Sun Valley.”
Eventually I found my way around to writing about “home.” I penned a thriller/mystery series centered around the Blaine County sheriff at the time, my friend, Walt Femling. “Killer Summer, Killer View” and others allowed me write what I know. Sun Valley. The Wood River Valley. The quirks and peculiarities that make it such a wonderful and unusual place caught between desert and National Forest. I’m 48 books in now, and still going. I never let myself forget that I started at a kitchen table with a view of the mountains and the Broadford Slough. I started with five bucks in my pocket and a passion to do what I love. And I’m doing it right now, 30 years later, which makes it all the more unbelievable to me. (Probably to my critics, as well!)
Just lucky, I guess.
Jamie Lee Curtis dipped her toes into the children's book-writing scene with her first book, "When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old's Memoir of Her Youth," published in 1993.
Judith Freeman divides her time between Los Angeles and the Camas Prairie. She is a novelist, essayist, critic and short-story writer whose first work of non-fiction came out in 2007.
Community School graduate, Alexander Maksik's novel "A Market to Measure Drift" comes out in paperback on June 3.
The Sun Valley Writers' Conference is a gathering of readers and writers into the realm of intellectual intimacy. This annual event brings the community together to be educated, enlightened and inspired.
Iconoclast Books originally opened on 4th Street (below Perry's) in 1994, moved to Main Street in the historic Griffith building in 2002, and found its current home in the Christiania building in 2007. Not only is it a fabulous bookstore, it houses a café with homemade soups and quiches.
A community bookstore in business for four decades, Chapter One Bookstore features a large variety of inventory and many used and out-of-print books. Cheryl Welch Thomas has been the sole owner for 23 years, but has worked at Chapter One for 40 years.
Silver Creek’s Legacy of People and Place
Adopted from an Essay by Diane Josephy Peavey
For many of us, it is our stories of the land and its people, stories of creating, evolving, persevering and surviving that are inspiring. The Silver Creek Preserve is just such a place.
Silver Creek runs through a high desert landscape mysteriously filled with springs that feed the creek and keep the land green, even marshy, during the driest summer months.
I understood this best visiting John and Elizabeth Stevenson at their ranch just this side of Timmerman Hill. Theirs was the first Nature Conservancy easement, which was acquired a half dozen years after the watershed preserve was created in 1976. It included a huge marsh area in the middle of their ranch. This land is now a lake, filled with waterfowl and surrounded by wildlife.
“The Nature Conservancy wanted to protect Silver Creek,” John explained, “and where else would you start but upstream?”
As Elizabeth recalled, the old-timers remember draining the marsh for farm and pasture needs. “We brought it back to its original wetlands. It is now a lake that catches sediment from upstream farmers, keeping it out of Silver Creek,” she said, while pointing around her with a sweeping gesture that takes in the lush landscape filled with marsh grasses and cattails. “And at the same time, we’re creating wildlife habitat.”
“Oh, this is great habitat!” John agreed, as the two itemized their sightings, mentioning numerous moose and elk.
“Especially in the fall, when the hunters are out,” Elizabeth said. “They seem to know and come here for refuge.”
The air is still. The afternoon is quiet. The Stevensons' small canoe is inviting. I scanned the land, the lower portion that is The Nature Conservancy easement filled with springs. There is no trace of former ranching activity here and yet the Stevensons still use the surrounding high ground. It is the perfect balance and use of this land, honoring its environmental uniqueness and farming potential, open space treasured by people of the land like John and Elizabeth.
Bud Purdy spent the first of many summers on his grandfather’s Picabo K bar K Ranch when he was just 10. “I did everything you know, like you do on a ranch,” he told me. “I remember pitching hay and running the derrick with a team. We put everything up with horses. I couldn’t harness my team so the guys did it for me.” But for Bud, who lived and worked on the ranch after graduating from college in 1938 up until his passing last April at the age 96, his memories moved between long work days and fishing and hunting along the creek with Sun Valley celebrities and friends like Ernest Hemingway.
"There was nothing between Picabo and Ketchum except farms and lots of sheep … almost all the sheep are gone,” he recalled. “There was a great sense of community here, too.”
Purdy’s ranch was originally founded by his grandfather, W.H. Kilpatrick, in 1883, and now includes the largest easement on Silver Creek. The easements and influx of second homes in the area have changed this ranch country, but saved the creek and landscape from serious development.
When asked about his perfect day, Bud spoke of checking cattle and fences, riding his horse, jumping in the creek for a swim. “That’s a perfect day,” he said, "spending time in Silver Creek.”
- 1949: With a motto like “conserving coldwater fisheries,” it was only a matter of time before Trout Unlimited made its mark in Idaho. Founded in Michigan in 1949, Trout Unlimited has recently opened up an office in Hailey and has adopted the Big Wood River as part of its “Homeland Rivers Initiative.” The local Hemingway Chapter has been very active in protecting and educating anglers of all ages about local fisheries.
- 1972: Roughly the size of Rhode Island, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, better known locally as the “SNRA,” is comprised of 756,000 acres of “working/producing” National Forest. Congress first protected this massive swath of Idaho’s stunning scenery just to the north of Sun Valley in 1972, directing the U.S. Forest Service to restrict development, while still respecting private property and allowing varied uses of the land. Each year, nearly a million people will visit the SNRA to hike, camp, fish, Nordic ski, hunt and ride bicycles on the 700 miles of trails and 40 peaks that rise above 10,000 feet. In 1997 the Sawtooth Society was formed to help negotiate easement payments and raise funds for recreational facilities and as a private-sector advocate.
- 1973: Established in 1973, the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) works to “keep Idaho the kind of special place you experienced as a child.” With offices in Boise, Ketchum and Sandpoint, the ICL is the Gem State's leading voice for clean water, air and wilderness by monitoring mining, logging, motorized recreation and wildlife management to ensure Idaho’s natural resources are managed responsibly.
- 1976: Originally founded in 1951 and first brought to the Gem State to help save Silver Creek in 1976, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has its state offices in Hailey. TNC now helps conserve more than 400,000 acres in Idaho, including properties on legendary fisheries like Silver Creek, and the Henry’s and South forks and Hell’s Canyon stretches of the Snake River.
- 1980: After years of tireless work by Idaho Senator Frank Church, the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness was established in 1980 (adding the senator’s name to its title in 1984). It now encompasses more than 2 million acres, making it the 2nd largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states. A native Idahoan, Church originally made a name for himself in land conservation while playing a key role in establishing passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.
- 1990: Founded primarily by Ketchum locals in 1990 and now 3,500 members strong, Idaho Rivers United has become a powerful force for safeguarding Idaho's imperiled wild steelhead and salmon, protecting and enhancing stream flows and riparian areas, and defending and promoting the wild and scenic qualities of the rivers in the “Whitewater State.”
- 1991: Adopted by Blaine County Commissioners in 1991, the Mountain Overlay District, better known as the “Hillside Ordinance,” regulates development on hillsides and, in effect, protects local viewsheds. The unique ordinance is credited with not only protecting the Wood River Valley’s glorious natural views, but also makes sure Sun Valley doesn’t get confused with resorts in Colorado, California or Utah.
- 1993: Founded in 1993 by Valley local Jon Marvel, Western Watersheds Project now has over 1,400 members and offices in a half-dozen Western states. The group works to influence and improve public lands management throughout the West with a primary focus on the negative impacts of livestock grazing on public lands, including harm to ecological, biological, cultural, historic, archeological, scenic resources, wilderness values, roadless areas, Wilderness Study Areas and designated Wilderness.
- 1994: Founded in 1994, Wood River Land Trust (WRLT) protects and restores land, water and wildlife habitat in the Wood River Valley and its surrounding area. Their projects include the Boxcar Bend, Draper and Howard preserves and managing nearly 25 local land conservation easements. Working cooperatively with private landowners and local communities, WRLT ensures that these areas are protected both now and for future generations.
Making a Difference
A Chat with Four Local Non-Profit Leaders
BY KATHLEEN KRISTENSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEV KHALSA
Many people strive to do good in life, but few dedicate their lives to such endeavors. These unique individuals truly embrace Gandhi's famous words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” We are blessed to have quite a few such people locally. People who identify needs in our community and have stepped up to provide solutions. Passionate about these causes, they give their valuable time, talents and resources, and inspire others to do the same. Their leadership guides the rest of us, making our combined philanthropic efforts more effective. Let me introduce you to four such inspirational local leaders.
Why and when did you found—or help found—the non-profit?
Morley Golden: The Wood River Foundation, the non-profit that created WOW-students, was founded in 2010. We believe that if each individual recognized that they have the ability to make a difference, a stronger and more vibrant community would emerge.
Who does your non-profit serve?
Harry Weekes: The Sage School is for teenagers or, a bit more broadly, adolescents. It also serves adolescence; a critical and sensitive time in our development. The school is for students and families who want to engage deeply in understanding the importance of place, who want to learn through direct experience and exposure to human ecology, and who want to be active participants in the world.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Morley Golden: This is a dynamic project since it is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Our biggest challenge changes daily.
Why is philanthropy so important for the community?
Brooke Bonner: To make a sweeping generalization, because we can’t count on government or business or other large-scale systems to take care of the fabric of our society and communities. Much of what non-profits give to the world are things that we value but that fall through the cracks without organized groups of compassionate individuals dedicated to making sure these things are taken care of. This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of businesses who do good things for the world, or government programs that aren’t necessary, but without groups whose primary mission and purpose it is to address the things that fall through the cracks, our community would look a lot different and would not be the place we are proud to call home.
What has been your most rewarding or proudest moment?
Ryan Redman: Every time I hear my friends in our programs describe how their personal practice is empowering them to become caring and compassionate human beings, my heart completely melts in gratitude.
Who is your hero or role model?
Harry Weekes: I have balked at this question since it was first asked me in elementary school. The obvious ones come to mind: My wife because of her total awesomeness; My mother because of her general indefatigableness; My father for following a kind of internal compass that is hard to articulate; Dates Fryberger for, amongst other things, sculpting ice with a chainsaw; Jim Henson for creating the Muppets; William Shatner; J.R.R. Tolkien; and Bilbo Baggins. There are just a lot of people who inspire me in the little and big ways they engage the world.
Who is the unsung hero of your non-profit?
Brooke Bonner: Kennel staff at the Animal Shelter. They not only provide the basics of daily care for all the animals at the Shelter, but they truly love the animals and pay special attention to each one’s health and happiness.
What other non-profits do you look up to?
Ryan Redman: In a WOW-students meeting several years ago, Morley Golden filled the room with representatives from most of the social-profits in the Wood River Valley. During this meeting, I found my neck getting sore as I looked up to the awe-inspiring work being done by so many in our community. It is such an honor to be learning from so many incredible people who have selflessly dedicated their lives to building organizations that make the world a better place.
Which funny fundraiser would you rather do: a swimsuit calendar, a fashion show or a bungee-jumping marathon?
Brooke Bonner: You’re kidding, right? Bungee jumping, obviously!
Ryan Redman: Hmmm ... Since I'm terrified of heights, and my body is speckled in moles, and most clothes are too short for me, I don't think any of the options above would be successful in attracting new partners to our work!
Harry Weekes: Bungee jumping, mostly because at some point someone in this would have to throw up, and that just has to be weird in bungee jumping. Sorry for that one.