Meet the art police
October 25, 2011
A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Roaring Fork Open at the Aspen Art Museum. I recently drove over from Vail to assist a friend of mine, a local artist, who is constructing his home. After an exhausting day of manual labor, I found myself helping to unload two pieces of what was termed “guerrilla art” in the park surrounding the art museum. We unloaded the first piece in the grassy park, leaning it against an aspen tree, and went to retrieve the second. In the few minutes it took to return, two nametag-wearing Aspen Art Museum officials had absconded with the first piece.
After placing the second piece against a different tree without event, we were able to locate the first one behind the art museum and returned with it to the park where we were immediately accosted by the same two officials. Given their officiously overbearing attitude and demeanor, I can only assume that they were respectively the museum director and curator.
The taller of the two I’ll refer to as Cartman, (“You must respect my authoritay!”) insisted that we remove the art from the park. At that point, wanting nothing more than to go inside and grab a beer with my friend, a member, I suggested we just leave the piece leaning against a tree on the far side of the park. To which the shorter of the two responded, “Then we’ll just remove it from there.”
Desiring no further drama, we started back to the truck; however, due to the nature of the art, we were stopped numerous times by Roaring Fork Open attendees who engaged us, took pictures, and otherwise, slowed our progress. Before we could make it off the grass and into the parking lot, Cartman reappeared and announced that “no hard feelings – I’ve called the police” explaining that we were “co-opting my event.”
Within seconds, the police arrived; we continued on our way past them and loaded the paintings on the truck. We sat stunned, realizing that freedom of expression no longer has meaning – in of all places an art event – in Aspen, Colorado.