February 27, 2012

Love you forever. In this town, there are quite a few things we love forever. Endless blue skies. Powder mornings. Fast downhills on mountain bikes. Our small-town community. The red barn. The summers, the winters, the mountains… So how does a New York City-based artist who had never been to Sun Valley before three weeks ago manage to create a public art installation that speaks straight to the hearts of locals? How do her three little words, a big public art installation in the Sun Valley Festival Meadows, speak such volumes to anyone who sets foot in our mountains?

Erin Rachel Hudak is such an artist. A native of Ohio, Hudak studied Art and Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her work has been shown throughout the world, most recently at the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago and ArtHamptons. She has also been featured in Vogue Girl Korea, Art+Culture.com, the Village Voice and the Brooklyn Eagle.  She installed LOVE YOU FOREVER in the Sun Valley Festival Meadows, across from that iconic red barn, in conjunction with the opening of her bright, warm, ironic and inviting show, Promiseland, at Ketchum’s OCHI Gallery.

This is her second LOVE YOU FOREVER installation, the first under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. And now from the Brooklyn Bridge to the mountains of Idaho, Erin is spreading her love everywhere, forever. We talked to her a little bit about this love, public art and how it all came together.


When I was working on the drawings and proposals in 2010 for LOVE YOU FOREVER in Brooklyn, the phrase came to me as a genuine love letter to the city and all the people that were ever a part of it throughout its history.

Why Sun Valley?

After the installation came down, I felt compelled to create this piece again in a new form. I was thrilled to propose the Sun Valley LOVE YOU FOREVER. The pink and gold fabric-balloon sentiment in Sun Valley celebrates the pristine beauty of the land and the great history of a people who are part of it.

The Brooklyn Bridge and now Idaho. Is there a conscious connection between these locales?

The places that I am drawn to are all somehow perfect for this piece. New York City is my refuge. 
In this same way, the Sun Valley Festival Meadows felt magical to me. Pauli Ochi, from OCHI Gallery, proposed the location and as soon as I saw the photograph I knew it would be phenomenal. 
LOVE YOU FOREVER may make debuts in Atlanta and Washington D.C. but I am carefully choosing the opportunities that fit with this piece and changing its form accordingly each time.

"We need the moments between our thoughts to understand art and to understand ourselves. Public art can give you that opportunity when you least expect it." – Erin Rachel Hudak

The balloons in the Sun Valley installation are not traditional balloons. Tell us about the construction.

Each letter was handmade specifically for this piece by New York-artist, Larry Krone. We worked together to find the best fabric that suited this outdoor installation. The outside fabric is lame and the lining is nylon, for extra strength and protection against the snow. We used bubble wrap, rolled into long stick-like shapes for the core support of the stuffing, then used polyester fill around the bubble wrap for loft and puff.


We heard that the install was not easy and you worked with huge drills and snow and ice. Can you tell us a little about that?

I had never even worn snowshoes before and since the snow in the meadow was about three feet deep, they were a necessity. We had a long list of tools…lodge poles, a drill as large as my dog, two-inch round drill bit, staple gun and a jigsaw. We dug a trench to access the ground for drilling and carried the eight-foot poles and stuffed letters across the snow, in snowshoes. Once we started drilling we realized that the ground was as solid as concrete. There were 23 holes to drill, each of them eight to ten inches into the frozen ground. Then the poles had to be sledge hammered in even further. We shoveled and re-packed the snow around each pole for support. We used the jigsaw to cut the poles that were too tall and then the top third of all the poles had to be wrapped in plastic tape so the letter supports could slide onto the poles. Then each letter was put on and lifted up, one at a time.

Public art is becoming bigger and bigger, literally and figuratively, why do you think it is important to modern culture?

Public art is vital to modern culture as a means of transformation. Especially in our fast-paced, internet-driven society, if a piece you encounter changes the way you were walking, thinking or seeing, then it is successful. If it becomes part of your ideas, your discourse or somehow defines something obtuse for you, it is successful. We need the moments between our thoughts to understand art and to understand ourselves. Public art can give you that opportunity when you least expect it.