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Labs Go on Auction to Preserve Warm Springs Ranch
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Thursday, December 23, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Seven labs are lining up to raise money to preserve the Warm Springs dog park.

The fiberglass labs, which boast artwork of notable artists, are being auctioned off in an online auction to raise money to preserve 65 acres of the former Warm Springs Ranch in perpetuity for walking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, picnicking, dog walking and bird watching.

The City of Ketchum has raised $4.6 million towards the $9 million asking price. Developer Bob Brennan said he will drop $1 million off the price if the city can raise $6.5 million in gifts and pledges by Dec. 31. The city needs to raise the entire amount by April 28, 2022.

The fiberglass labs are an offshoot of the Summer of Labs fundraiser held for what was then the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley in 2002.

They include:

  • A dog featuring a painting of a cowboy chasing a herd of wild horses painted by Old West Award-winning artist Kelly D. Donovan, who began showing his work in galleries at 15 and now lives in Corinne, Utah.
  • A red and black lab featuring hot rods and bears created by Ketchum artist Will Caldwell, who has exhibited his uber-colorful paintings in galleries in Ketchum, Santa Fe, Taos, Scottsdale, Tucson, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Jackson since 1975.
  • A dog featuring the spots and fin of a trout created by A.D. Maddox, who is considered one of the world’s most well-known and respected fly-fishing artists, having had her art featured in multiple issues of Gray’s Sporting Journal, American Angler, Big Sky Journal, The Contemporary Sportsman, Wild on the Fly and Patagonia campaigns.
  • A dog sporting a buffalo and bison hooves by Hailey artist Mary Roberson, who has spent many a season in Yellowstone National Park painting her impressionistic portraits of wildlife designed to evoke the feeling that nature is a gift to cherish.
  • A dog featuring “Little Miss Sure Shot” Annie Oakley, by Ed Larson, a 90-year-old Santa Fe artist known for his lyrical folk art paintings, and paintings of the American West.
  • A dog featuring Buffalo Bill’s Wild West by Ed Larson, a Santa Fe artist who also is known for his Wind Toys and Story Quilts.
  • A dog in sheep’s clothing by L.D. Burke, a lifelong artist and designer who began creating Cowboy Furniture in Santa Fe after falling in love with the West and cowboys.

The dogs were donated by Russ Lamb, a Hailey sculptor who fashioned two dogs for Summer of Labs—Thunderpaws and Candlelabra, which he did with Martine Drackett. Lamb bought the rights to the dogs afterwards.

Lamb said it was difficult to give up the labs after 20 years, “But it’s the right thing to do.”

“Even though I don’t live in Ketchum, preserving the land in Warm Springs is a good cause,” he said. “I remember the golf course, which was so small you couldn’t use a driver, and the Warm Springs Restaurant and its scones. And the wonderful thing is that these artists have evolved since they did these labs so they’re even better known than they were 20 years ago.”

The labs have been stationed at several places around Ketchum: The Argyros, Limelight Hotel, Giacobbi Square, Christiania Restaurant, Sun Valley Wine Company and Zenergy.

The starting price for each is $10,000 and bidders can bid through April unless they sell out. Collectors may also buy them outright for $35,000 each.

Kathy Wygle, who has been helping to organize the campaign has lived in the Warm Springs area for 50 years, and she often walks the land that would comprise the preserve during winter.

“I want to see it remain open space that people can enjoy,” she said. “Not everybody can hike on the hiking trails. But anybody can go to the Warm Springs Park where they can walk the grass or roll around in a wheelchair and feel like they’re in wilderness.

“Warm Springs Preserve doesn’t discriminate against someone because of their physical ability,” she added. “It’s accessible no matter someone’s age or physical ability. And it’s safe for children and dogs because there are no roads.”

Scott Boettger, executive director of the Wood River Land Trust, has called the area the largest piece of ground that needs to be saved in the Ketchum area.

“The space is irreplaceable,” he said. “It’s a place where well-behaved dogs can be left off leash, a place where people can come together. And leaving it undeveloped helps keep Warm Springs Creek and the Big Wood River healthy.”

To bid on the dogs and to learn more about the Warm Springs Preserve, go to https://WarmSpringsPreserve.org

 

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