‘The Whole Salmon’
explores a river
and its people
By ADAM TANOUS
Express Arts Editor
As compounds go, water is about as simple
as it gets—just two little hydrogen atoms stuck to a single oxygen atom. And
yet, this stuff, of which we are mostly comprised, brings great complexity into
In Idaho, for instance, an irreversible
and complex series of events begins once the snow of winter begins to come off
the Sawtooth Mountains and finds its way into the tiny channel that becomes the
406-mile-long Salmon River. The chain of events expands outwards into
ecosystems, the realm of economics, and into social and cultural domains. And,
of course, as the river affects us, so do we affect it.
In an effort to understand this
relationship between river and humans, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts
presents "The Whole Salmon." It is a multidisciplinary project opening Friday,
Aug. 15, at the Center’s gallery.
Kristin Poole, artistic director of the
Center, commissioned four artists from four different fields to present their
perspectives on one of the largest wild rivers in the United States.
Visual artist Tony Foster, journalist and
essayist Mark Trahant, photographer Terry Evans and composer Evan Ziporyn spent
time along the river last summer and fall. Each was asked to explore different
elements of the river. Through images, photographic and painted, words and
music, the four create a composite understanding of this force of life cutting
through the heart of Idaho.
Artistic director Poole commented on the
project: "The Salmon River is not only a compelling physical presence, but it is
also symbolic—exemplifying the contradictions and controversies that make up the
American West in the 21st century. The river and its native fish have been the
cause of both debate and celebration, taken for granted by some and scrutinized
by others. We hoped that the focus on this resource would stimulate debate about
how we honor and use the resources we have."
Watercolor artist Foster traveled the
entire length of the river last summer, completing a painting each day. His
mission was to create a geographic and topographic record of the river today.
Evans spent time with community members in
the river towns of Stanley, Salmon and White Bird. She photographed them at work
and play along the river.
Ziporyn, for his part, composed a piece of
music in response to his experiences on the river. The piece, written in four
movements, incorporates natural sounds recorded on the river.
Writer Trahant brought his Native American
heritage to his contribution. Trahant, in essay form, explored his past
relationship to the river as a Native American, as well as his perception of the
current day relationship between the river and its people.
The exhibit will be in the Center gallery
through Friday, Oct. 31. From there it will travel to Nevada Museum of Art in
Reno and the Prichard Art Museum in Moscow, Idaho.
In conjunction with the visual, literal
and audio components of the project, the Center will offer a range of lectures,
classes and events throughout the two and one-half month show. First up will be
a discussion by Terry Evans Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m.