Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Ketchum Arts Festival Showcases Reinvention During Pandemic
Marjolaine Renfro will hawk her wind chimes at the Ketchum Arts Festival Friday through Sunday at Festival Meadows on Sun Valley Road.
Thursday, July 9, 2020


Marjolaine Renfro reverted to making wind chimes in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And Michelle Black has set aside the jewelry she has made forever to create “small poems” out of driftwood and other natural objects.

The two are among more than a hundred artists and craftsmen who will show off the work they did while sheltering-in-place during the annual Ketchum Arts Festival this weekend at Festival Meadows on Sun Valley Road.

The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 10 and 11, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 12. Admission is free.

Marjolaine Renfro carved these stamps for her wood chimes.

The festival is following COVID precautions with extra space in between booths. The Kids Activity Tent  and live music will be on hiatus this year to discourage the temptation to congregate. There will, however, be food and beer for sale.

Shoppers are encouraged to wear masks and social distance and use the hand sanitizer provided. Parking is available in our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church when the lot is not needed for church functions.

“This COVID scare is all about personal reinvention—it’s prompted some of our artists to branch out in new directions as they reflect and innovate,” said Lisa Horton, one of the organizers. “Michelle Black, wonder of wonders, has reinvented herself as a 3D mixed media artist making really cool wall pieces. Hailey artist Jon Adams, who has made dog and cat feeder stands for years, has moved into making really cute small tables. And I’ve started making sterling silver rings with gemstones—some big enough for men.”

New artists include a face/body painter from Twin Falls, who is quite the artist, Horton said. Also, glass artist Christopher Gibson.

Jewelry artist Michelle Black says her rootsy artwork, although minimalist, has a lot of life to them.

“We have a lot of new artists who usually are not able to be at the Ketchum Arts Festival due to conflicts with other festivals Since so many of those, including Coeur d’Alene, Jackson and Bellevue, have been cancelled, they’re able to be with us this year,” said Horton.

Michelle Black has long created one-of-a-kind custom acid etched sterling rings sporting accent diamonds, gold and unusual gemstones influenced by the landscapes of the American West, selling them at such festivals as the LaQuinta Arts Festival.

But, while visiting the Pacific Northwest last summer, she was inspired to shift gears. She went to work during the pandemic, creating small steel frames in a friend’s metal shop in Bullhead, Ariz., while she spent the winter in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

And she filled it with pieces of driftwood and that she had gathered at such places as Magic Reservoir.

Michelle Black created this out of Idaho alder, pine, Nevada juniper and steel.

“I even found pieces of construction wood that had floated into Magic. By the time I got them, the square corners had been rounded—they were beautiful to work with. It reminded me of when I built a furniture series from slightly warped wood in the 1990s.”

The Ketchum Arts Festival will mark the debut of her new work, Black said. She was an hour away from setting up her booth at the Southwest Arts Festival in Palm Springs when California Gov. Gavin Newsom shut things down because of the pandemic.

“This is going to be my only show for the year because of COVID,” said Black who herself spent six weeks battling COVID and still wakes up at night on occasion trying to catch her breath. “A lot of artists are in dire straits right now due to having not outlets to sell their work.”

Marjolaine Renfro long indulged in creating ceramic mushrooms and other ceramic works before she stopped to take care of her husband Robert after he took ill in 2012. After he passed away, began creating whimsical greeting cards.

Anne Watson Sorenson painted this portrait of a fly-fisherman.

With the Ketchum Arts Festival looming, she wanted a product shoppers didn’t have to touch so she  went back to making wind chimes.

Some of the ceramic windchimes feature butterflies; some, moose and other wildlife. Some feature dogs or horses; others, Buddhist symbols.

“They’re labor intensive—each piece takes between 12 and 15 steps, and the chimes involve 40 pieces and lots of beads and knots in the string, which is the same string used on America’s Cup sails,” she said.

Renfro finds the wood for her chimes when hiking. She makes glazes out of clay. And she carves the stamps, for each, carving many backwards so the imprint is readable.

“You learn to carve backwards by doing it wrong the first time,” she said.

She fires her chimes in the kiln of her home, which was built in the 1940s for one of Sun Valley Company’s first photographers. The whole process reminds her of her youth when her father—an immigrant--would pile recycled objects on the kitchen table, then tell his four children to create whatever their imaginations could fancy.

How thick a chime piece is determines how deep or high its sound.

“They make lovely sounds,” she said. “This has been a great way for me to get back into clay. And it uplifts me to make them.”


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