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Feather Bow Ties and Map Art Take Place Among Art at Ketchum Arts Festival
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Thursday, July 7, 2022
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Tom Ward keeps his eye out for recyclable art pieces as he walks through the woods in search of pheasant and other game.

He’s recycled or upcycled pheasant and wild turkey feathers, wood, leaves and even hornets’ nests to create his one-of-a-kind Wild Idaho Art.

Some of it is decorative, materializing as collages. Much of it is wearable art in the form of handmade feather bow ties, pheasant hair pins and lapels and hat pins.

Ward is one of a number of new artists who will be showing off their works at the Ketchum Arts Festival Friday through Sunday, July 8-10, at Festival Meadows on Sun Valley Road in Sun Valley.

(Keep on reading to learn about another Sun Valley artist—Nancy Gervais—and her unique works).

Ward, who also paints with watercolors and pastels, is a Boise native who has lived in the Wood River Valley for 42 years. He plunged into feather art when his daughter asked him to make some feather hair barrettes for herself and her bridesmaids.

“Art is always on my mind as I’m hunting,” said Ward. Hunters generally throw away most parts of a bird. I process the bird tails, those kinds of things, in order to share their beauty with others. I want to share things people may never see if they’re not in the wild. It’s a renewable sustainable resource and it’s beautiful. Many of the feathers, for instance, are iridescent. You look at them one way and they’re green. Turn them another way and they’re orange.”

  • Another newcomer to this year’s Ketchum Arts Festival is East Fork resident Nancy Gervais, who came to Sun Valley for a conference in the early 1990s and moved here fulltime in 2012. Her talent for art was forged out of her love for exploring beaches and mountain streams. She started with refinishing furniture, then moved on to painting and mixed media.

The majority of her works feature elements of nature, including elk, bears, fish, bison and wildflowers,   painted on vintage maps of the American west.

“I love maps. I grew up going on road trips with my families from our home in the Bay area to places like Yellowstone National Park, Bryce and Zion, Mount Rainier and Tahoe in our station wagon,” she said. “I first started incorporating maps into my paintings as a border. Then I figured: I’m tearing up these maps and they’re really cool so why not feature them more?”

Gervais finds maps dating as far back as the late 1800s on eBay and in what she calls “junk shops.” Most are from the decades of the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

Her favorites are maps of the American West since they correlate with her Western imagery. Sometimes she will add red, yellow or blue rings—a nod to her father who would often set his coffee cup on a map while camping, leaving a coffee cup ring.

“When I describe it even now, I get all teary because that’s an important part of the painting,” she said.

Gervais says she likes to study the maps to see if some of the places on the maps still exist. Some cities have grown so much they’ve incorporated former towns. And then there’s cities like Sun Valley that didn’t exist on earlier maps.

“It’s interesting to see what you can see,” she said.

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