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What’s So Artsy about Aspen?

Wow, suddenly August is here, and the Aspen summer has been filled already with its signature exhilarating events. From outdoor sports and activities, delectable food and wine festivals, stimulating science, political and sociological lectures and uplifting music festival concerts. Perhaps a bit lessor known is that summer in Aspen is also a fantastic time to appreciate fine art while surrounded by abundant natural beauty as well.

From acclaimed upscale commercial galleries, an outstanding art museum, and a new wave of contemporary street art, to engaging exhibits by talented local and regional artists hosted by various public galleries in the area, the opportunities to enjoy Aspen art abound.

Here are a few suggestions for exploring Aspen art while you are in town:

Aspen Art Museum

Photo: Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum moved to its new downtown location in August, 2014. The museum is a non-collecting contemporary art museum that presents international contemporary art through exhibitions, education, programs, and community activities.

Current exhibits at the Aspen Art Museum include:

“Jonathan Berger: The Store”: This exhibit is a total reimagining of the Aspen Art Museums’ shop. It’s an exhibitions and place of commerce in one, with luxury items both for sale and some just for exhibition. The Store is inspired primarily by the artist’s own first-hand experiences working and shopping in downtown New York in the 1990s.

Precious Okoyomon: Every Earthly Morning the Sky’s Light touches Ur Life is Unprecedented in its Beauty: Okoyomon’s exhibition is a live project which aims to create a garden combining indigenous plants with invasive plant species to create a juxtaposition.  “Poet and artist Precious Okoyomon will transform the AAM rooftop, installing a mixture of sculpture and organic matter to create a garden based on themes of pleasure, abundance, and desire.”

“Cerith Wyn Evans: Aspen Drift”: Cerith Wyn Evans is known for his intricate neon sculptures, often described as drawings in light. This exhibition in particular in inspired by traditional Japanese Noh theatre. Aspen Drift will be the artist’s first US museum presentation in over seventeen years, and will include sculpture, installation, painting, and works on paper.

The Red Brick

Red Brick Gallery Aspen
Photo: Red Brick

In addition to offering affordable art programs for children and adults, this Aspen art center supports the art community by featuring monthly and biennial gallery exhibits by local artists. The Red Brick has two showcasing spaces – The Main Gallery and The West Gallery. This gallery is a local institution providing the community with access to all forms of art and media.

One of the upcoming exhibitions, “INEFFABLE GREEN THING”,  provides a series of artworks by Gunnison-base painter Anders Johnson complimented by the poetry of Kristy Odelius. “Through seeing the layered rhythms in Odelius’ poetry and reading the layered stories in Johnson’s paintings, viewers will have an opportunity to explore the divergent concurrences of language and image while also discovering the similarities that echo through the work.”

Aspen Chapel Gallery

The gallery at the Aspen Chapel features the works of talented Roaring Fork Valley artists. This gallery offers free exhibitions, giving local artists a great opportunity to display their art. The works reflect a wide variety of artistic mediums and are displayed during nine unique exhibitions annually.

The current exhibit at the Chapel Gallery showcases the works of various local artists in an exhibition called “Five x 5″ x 5” in partnership with A Way Out, to support vulnerable and at risk individuals in Western Colorado.

 

Annual Events 

Throughout the year, in addition to the many exhibits and showings in galleries across town, Aspen also hosts some amazing events which showcase the town’s evolving art scene through various media.

Aspen Ideas Fest
Photo: Aspen Ideas Festival

“Aspen Ideas Festival”
The Aspen Ideas Festival is an annual collection of world renowned speakers and presentations, which occurs every summer in multiple locations across one weekend in the town. Topics and conversations often cover everything from performing arts to technology and everything in between.

“Aspen Arts Festival”
Now in it’s 18th year, The Aspen Arts Festival provides an exclusive opportunity to experience a range of phenomenal creations by national and local artists. This weekend provides an amazing community atmosphere as showcasing some outstanding photography, painting and sculptures.

“Aspen FilmFest”
A real staple in Aspen, the Filmfest celebrating it’s 41st year, is a week of cinema showings ranging from shorts to documentaries, with a selection of award winning directors and actors from around the world. The festival caters for experts and casual moviegoers alike and is a perfect festival to see out the summer in our valley.

Street Art

Artistic advertisements have graced the sides of several commercial buildings in Aspen since the early days. However, in modern times the town has not encouraged, allowed or embraced urban style street art within the city limits – until now.

For one example, local entrepreneur, Reuben Sadowsky of Gravity Productions, received permission from the city’s Historic Preservation Office and Crystal Palace building owner, Mark Hunt, to engage Venice, California, street artist, Christina Angelina, to create a large piece to adorn the venerable building.

Angelina’s creation, which depicts the face of an attractive dark-haired woman looking down, hangs on the west-facing wall of the structure, just above an historic old Aspen Commission Co. and Owl Cigar advertisement. Be on the lookout for more in the near future!

Another standout piece is that of acclaimed street artist Shepard Fairey. His installation, curated by local arts activist Katie Kiernan, can be seen on the brick wall of the building which houses Big Wrap among other businesses, just off of Hunter Street.

Aspen Art Galleries

Eden Gallery Aspen
Photo: Eden Gallery

We mentioned upscale commercial art galleries earlier, and the town currently boasts a whopping number of them. Cruise the downtown pedestrian mall and nearby, and you will find one or two on every block –  too many to go into a lot of detail here.  You can find a comprehensive list of them at aspenchamber.org.
So, what’s so artsy about Aspen? Just take a little walk about town and you will find out. We are sure you will find something that strikes your artistic fancy. For more ideas on how to spend your time while you are here, please visit our Activities page on this website.