KETCHUM — The Sun Valley Center for the Arts is pleased to host the first of three free evening tours of its new visual arts exhibition, Behind the Sagebrush Curtain: Women Modernists in Montana and Idaho.

The event is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 at the center’s museum in Ketchum. Visitors are invited to enjoy a glass of wine and take a guided tour of the exhibition with the center’s curators.

Behind the Sagebrush Curtain includes prints, drawings, paintings and ceramics by seven 20th-century artists who were active in Montana (Gennie DeWeese, Edith Freeman, Isabelle Johnson, Helen McAuslan, Frances Senska and Jessie Wilber) and Idaho (Sara Joyce). Working in a wide range of materials and styles, these artists were unified in their desire to marry the landscapes and subject matter of the American West with ideas and techniques that reflected their engagement with international modernism. Many of these women also served as teachers and mentors throughout their careers, influencing the work of younger artists in the Intermountain West for decades.

The exhibition takes its title from a recent interview with Donna Forbes, longtime executive director of the Yellowstone Art Museum and a personal friend of Isabelle Johnson, an artist whose paintings are included in the exhibition.

“Tippet Rise Art Center in Fishtail, Montana, posted the interview on their website,” said Courtney Gilbert, curator of visual arts at the center. “In it, Ms. Forbes discusses Montana’s art scene in the 1950s and 1960s, describing her colleagues as feeling cut off from the major centers of the art world. She remembered a friend commenting that in Montana, artists were stuck ‘behind the sagebrush curtain.’ But as the exhibition illustrates, artists in the West, despite their relative isolation, were actively working with modernist ideas. This exhibition focuses on women modernists whose work has been less widely exhibited than that of their male counterparts — women who were, in essence, working behind a second curtain.”

Additional free evening exhibition tours of Behind the Sagebrush Curtain: Women Modernists in Montana and Idaho are scheduled for Dec. 12 and Jan. 9. The exhibition will also be open during the Sun Valley Gallery Association’s free gallery walks on Nov. 29 (4–6 p.m.) and Dec. 27 (5–7 p.m.). For more information, please visit or call 208.726.9491.