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Cowboys in pearls

Kneeland Gallery celebrates 30th anniversary of indigenous influence

by JENNIFER LIEBRUM

Jennifer Lowe’s offering for the triple-decade celebration of Kneeland Gallery incorporates the traditional gift for 30 years, the pearl in “And the Moon Rose Up Like a Pearl.” Courtesy photo Kneeland Gallery

 Painter Jennifer Lowe’s image of a couple of foxes dancing under a pearl-encrusted moon captures the essence of what Kneeland Gallery has represented in its 30 years in Ketchum merging the traditional and the sublime, the whimsical and the familiar.
    “We fill a niche,” explained Carey Molter, Kneeland’s director for half of its life. “We are one of the more traditional galleries with a focus on landscapes, indigenous creatures, a little bit of Western. Our clients tend to be more mature, and we have a lot of repeat clients who have supported us over the years as well as those who visit and want to take a little piece of Idaho home.”
    That niche will be in focus with a special artists reception during Gallery Walk, Friday, Aug. 31, from 5-8 p.m. with the show “From Wild to Mild” with work of Lowe, Linda St. Clair, Debbie Edgers Sturges and Carl Rowe.
    Over the years, the gallery has become extended family to the artists they represent.
    “Many of our artists have been with us since the beginning,” Molter said. “We grow with them. We’ve weathered the storm that has been going on with the economy with them and we encourage them.”
  


“People want to be a part of the
atmosphere of creativity and with beautiful things.”
Carey Molter
Kneeland Gallery director


 They also have nurtured an annual Big Plein Air painters show, now in its 21st year, when eight artists come to town and paint the area’s scenes, with an open invitation for the public to watch.
    “Some of our clients plan their vacations around it now,” Molter said.
    When George Kneeland started a small gallery in Las Vegas with his wife, Diane, it was “their hobby, for lack of a better word,” Molter said. “They wanted to show and share their love of arts.”
    Splitting time between Ketchum and Las Vegas, the Kneelands decided to open a larger gallery here. Diane has overseen this gallery, the only one now, since George’s death a few years ago, but the responsibility for reading the meter and making decisions day-in and day-out have mostly fallen on Molter, who admits that it can be a challenge, but one that has humbled her to the commitment that artists make to their craft.
    “It’s a position of great responsibility between finding new artists and looking after the ones we have while managing the advertising and the budgets and the personalities, but it’s a wonderful career and a passion of mine,” she said. “We have to be very selective—we get approached by artists every day and, unfortunately, have to turn away some very good artists. But being able to notice emerging artists is a lovely aspect of the business.”    
    Oddly enough, the economic climate has had a positive effect on creativity, with artists’ realizing that every work has to be their very best to get the attention of a limited crowd of patrons.
    “We want the gallery to look fresh, and to evolve,” Molter explained. “Some things don’t work, but we never want to curb an artist’s enthusiasm. We try and act as a guiding force, encouraging them to push their limits and follow their vision without losing the essence of who they are and who the client fell in love with.”
    Molter said the strollers who use the gallery like a mini-museum are never discouraged from doing so or treated differently from those who buy, and that the gallery opens its doors to school children to help engage future artists and aficionados.
    “People want to be a part of the atmosphere of creativity and with beautiful things,” she said. “Education is a big part of what we do and something we all enjoy sharing.”



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