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A ceramics workshop at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, circa 1975.

2021 is a big year for the Sun Valley Museum of Art, as the organization rings in its 50th anniversary. Since its founding in 1971, SVMoA (or the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, as it was known at the time) has been a driving force for the local arts scene, persistently championing all forms of visual art, performance and arts education since day one.

Many of the concerts, festivals, plays and other programs that fill a typical summer calendar in the Wood River Valley were jettisoned last year amid the pandemic. As more and more announce their planned return this summer, the greater arts community’s burgeoning feeling of rejuvenation is only compounded by SVMoA’s major milestone anniversary.

Throughout the summer, the nonprofit has a vast array of celebrations and associated programming on the books to mark the occasion. The first of these, a retrospective visual arts exhibition, opens just next week at the museum’s Ketchum location, 191 Fifth St. E.

“Clay, Silver, Ink: Sun Valley Center at 50” was specially guest-curated by artists Jim Romberg and Peter de Lory. Romberg served as The Center’s director of ceramics from 1973-86 and de Lory was director of photography from 1976-79 and again in the summers of ’82 and ’83.

The exhibition takes a look at The Center’s early years, featuring works created by artists who taught there in the ’70s and ’80s. Many of the featured artists have since risen to national and international acclaim.

“It’s remarkable to see this history compiled,” said Kristin Poole, SVMoA’s artistic director. “The exhibition offers an opportunity to reflect on the role our organization played in launching the careers of dozens of artists and to trace the history of the organization itself, from a teaching institution to an accredited museum.”

When it was first launched at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts in 1971, the organization was primarily an educational resource, offering classes and workshops in ceramics, photography, printmaking and other artistic media. While the nonprofit has certainly branched out to touch upon just about every area of the arts, education has remained a core component of the SVMoA’s identity.

“While [SVMoA] has transformed through the decades, its values have remained rooted in those of the early Sun Valley Center,” Poole said. “We’ve worked to deliver transformative arts and educational experiences that stimulate the imagination, offer opportunities for discovery and build community.”

A grand total of 60 artists feature in “Clay, Silver, Ink.” Many have offered thoughts and reflections on their time at The Center to be included in the exhibition and augment the art’s retrospective narrative.

“Clay, Silver, Ink” will open at the museum on Friday, April 30, and remain up through the end of July. In the coming weeks and months, SVMoA will announce more special offerings for its 50th anniversary celebrations. Keep an eye on svmoa.org for up-to-date information.

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