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Anderson Ranch Arts Center to start fall lectures

Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s new fall lecture series will run weekly from Oct. 20 through Dec. 6.

The lineup consists of artists nationwide who will be spending one to three weeks at the ranch completing projects within their area of expertise and exploring new work in the studios. Visiting artists and visiting critics engage with the creative energy of the fall artists-in-residence, who are currently on campus through studio visits and contribute to the community by presenting free lectures during their stay, officials said.

“These artists, working across disciplines, represent some of the brightest makers present in the contemporary world today,” said ranch President and CEO Peter Waanders. “They come to Anderson Ranch to expand their practices and explore new techniques with the amazing facilities and professional artistic staff at the ranch. We are very pleased and thankful that during their stay they give back to the community with these public lectures.” 

Oct. 20, 5:30-6:30 p.m. — Deborah Anzinger, Visiting Artist in Ceramics and Digital Fabrication 

Anzinger is an artist and founder of New Local Space in Kingston, Jamaica. She works in painting, sculpture, video and sound to interrogate and reconfigure aesthetic syntax that relates us to land and gendered and raced bodies.

Oct. 26, 5:30-6:30 p.m. — Anna Tsouhlarakis, Visiting Critic 

In the fall of 2022, Tsouhlarakis will be part of the National Portrait Gallery’s “Portraiture Now: Kinship” exhibition in Washington, D.C., and will also have performances throughout the year in the NPG as part of the “IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture” series. She is Greek, Creek and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and lives and works in Colorado.

Nov. 3, 5:30-6:30 p.m. — Autumn Knight, Visiting Artist in Photography and New Media 

Knight is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist working with performance, installation, video and text. Her video and performance work have been viewed within several institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Kitchen. She is the recipient of the 2021-2022 Nancy B. Negley Rome Prize in Visual Arts and a 2022-2023 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Nov. 10, 5:30-6:30 p.m. — Calida Rawles, Visiting Artist in Painting 

The paintings of Rawles merge hyper-realism with poetic abstraction. Situating her subjects in dynamic spaces, her recent work employs water as a vital, organic and historically charged space. For her, water signifies both physical and spiritual healing, as well as historical trauma and racial exclusion. She uses this complicated duality as a means to envision a new space for black healing and to re-imagine her subjects beyond racialized tropes.

Nov. 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m. — Ranu Mukherjee, Visiting Critic 

Mukherjee makes hybrid work in painting, moving image and installation to build new imaginative capacities. Her work is guided by the forces of ecology and non-human agency, diaspora and migration, motherhood and transnational feminisms. 

Dec. 1, 5:30-6:30 p.m. — Maggie Jensen, Visiting Artist in Sculpture 

Jensen builds installations of sculpture, sound, text and performance. Her work often closely resembles cultural artifacts that signify oppressive conditions of power. Within the predetermined spaces of European figural and modernist traditions, humanistic vocabularies and privatized architectures, she uses poetics and abstraction to express mis-communication and doubt. Doubt used as subject matter is a tool to interrogate concepts of animation and figuration in landscapes of excavated violence.

Dec. 6, 5:30-6:30 p.m. — Rashawn Griffin and Sam Yates

Rashawn Griffin uses diverse materials such as bed sheets, tassels, food and flora to create large-scale sculptures and paintings. After receiving an MFA from Yale University in 2005, he has exhibited in multiple solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad. Often pushing the boundaries between object and installation, his work challenges viewers to engage in their own past experiences when confronting his art. 

Yates is a Midwest-born designer, based in Kansas City, Missouri. Her experience ranges from in-house media for Kansas City PBS, experiential design and wayfinding with Dimensional Innovations, to brand experience and identity with D.C. firm, Beveridge Seay. She has been an American In- house Design Awards winner and an American Graphic Design Awards winner through Graphic Design USA.

Visiting artist and critic lectures are free, open to the public and available in person or via livestream. Registration is required for attendance. More details can be found about each visiting artist and critics at andersonranch.org

Theatre Aspen lines up hits for ruby anniversary year next summer

Theatre Aspen will return to full-length plays with three notable performances at Hurst Theatre in summer 2023 as part of its 40th anniversary season.

The mainstage productions, just announced, are “Beautiful — The Carole King Musical,” the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play “Doubt,” and “Rent,” also a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner. None of these plays have ever been performed at Theatre Aspen.

“Next season is going to be probably our most ambitious ever,” said Theatre Aspen Producing Director Jed Bernstein. “We’re back to doing full-length plays, which we love, and we hadn’t done since before the pandemic.”

Ensuring that the mainstage productions were part of a broad and varied mix was top of mind for the organization as it gears up for its ruby anniversary.

“It’s like making a really gourmet soup, in terms of different ingredients,” Bernstein said. “We do try to involve all of the team because there are a lot of aspects of this, in terms of what we want to achieve, from artistic expression to marketing, to development. Sometimes the idea is artist-driven. Sometimes it’s as simple as being a show that I’ve always wanted to do.”

“Our musicals are stylistically so different, but both incredibly iconic,” said Britt Marden, director of artistic planning. “‘Rent’ was a groundbreaking show in so many ways when it premiered and stands the test of time both musically and thematically, while Carole King remains one of the greatest singer/songwriters, whose music spans generations of theatregoers. This is also the first time since 2019 that we are producing three mainstage shows, including one play, and I am thrilled that we have chosen ‘Doubt.’ It is a compelling and thought-provoking work that will really round out the summer.”

Bernstein noted that there are also practical considerations such as costumes, casts and an effort to select shows where their apprentices are going to have good opportunities to learn, as the Theatre Aspen apprentice program is one of the largest in the country, “devoted to training the next generation of theatrical artists and administrators.”

The organization’s ethos of “big theatre in a small space” reverberates through these selections, as well, with all three showcasing complex stories to tell alongside the universal appeal of the music.

“People say about music that one of the true powers of music is that it becomes so associated with memory and experience and the phases of your life. The Carole King story is a really good story. She had obstacles and sadness in her life but was also triumphant. I also think ‘Doubt’ works on so many levels. It’s a mystery story. Did this priest do what he was accused of? It makes you think about relationships, about parenting, about religion, about a lot of things,” Bernstein said. “When it comes to ‘Rent,’ for people who are 40 and 50 years old, ‘Rent’ is a something of a Golden Age musical. It became a beloved piece in the ’90s, and 30 years later you can appreciate it all again. It was very prescient. Social justice was being discussed in this work before people were talking about it in the way that they are today.”

“Both of these musicals are going to be nostalgic in different ways,” Marden said. “The famous rock score in ‘Rent’ is combined with a timeless story, and ‘Beautiful’ is going to be a show that has people singing and dancing when they walk out of the tent.”

In addition to dancing, audiences should anticipate moments of reflection.

“’Doubt’ is going to leave audiences with a lot of questions, which is what makes this show so powerful and unique. Be prepared to want to continue to talk about it long after you leave the theater,” Marden said. 

These reflections help the Theatre Aspen team articulate all that Theatre Aspen has accomplished over the past four decades, as well as what’s to come. Bernstein says the organization is currently in continued conversations with the city of Aspen over its capital campaign bid to build a permanent structure in Rio Grande Park. This involves being engaged in testing and feasibility studies, as well as fundraising plans. And these mainstage productions are only the start of all that’s to come on this ruby anniversary.

“We have some wonderful upcoming special events in the works,” he said. “These three shows are the leading edge of a lot more.”

The Shows

THE SHOWS

“Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”

Before she was hit-maker Carole King, she was Carole Klein, a spunky young songwriter from Brooklyn with a unique voice. From the chart-topping hits she wrote for the biggest acts in music to her own life-changing, trailblazing success with “Tapestry,” ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” takes you back to where it all began. Featuring classics such as “You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” “So Far Away,” “Take Good Care of My Baby,” “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Natural Woman,” this Tony and Grammy award-winning musical phenomenon is filled with the songs you remember.

“Doubt”

All the elements come together like clockwork in John Patrick Shanley’s play, “Doubt,” a story of suspicion cast on a priest’s behavior that is less about scandal than about nuanced questions of moral certainty. Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award.

“Rent”

Set in the East Village of New York City, “Rent” is about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Rent” has become a pop cultural phenomenon. Based loosely on Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

Additional information on the 40th anniversary season, including production dates, the Solo Flights festival of one-person shows and the popular Summer Cabaret Series will be announced shortly.

 

 

“Rock of Ages” performed in 2021.
Tim Bates
“Ragtime.”
Mike Lyons
‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in 2019.
Ross Daniels
“Guys and Dolls” in 2019.
Mike Lyons Photography

Billboard Top 40 recording artist to perform at benefit for Aspen Camp School

An upcoming Creekside Concert to benefit the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing almost didn’t happen — were it not for a chance meeting between the camp’s volunteers and visiting Southern California singer Laura Angelini.

“I was in Aspen and was looking for the Windstar Foundation property,” she said. “I was wandering around, and I walked in (to the camp) because I saw the sign, and I was curious about what they do and needed directions. I had no idea I was going to be walking into the synchronicity of a future concert.”

She excitedly tells the story of intending to connect with the mission and vision of one of her longtime sources of inspiration, John Denver, and finding out that she could be of service to another Roaring Fork Valley institution.

“The Aspen Camp had pictures of John Denver having concerts there. They told me he had given so much back to the camp, and I mentioned that I’d love to do a concert there sometime. The rest is history,” she said.

Angelini is a Billboard Top 40 recording artist and philanthropist who prides herself on making a difference through music. Her first single, “Share That Love/What the World Needs Now Is Love,” recently reached No. 36 on the Billboard dance charts.

She also founded the ShareThatLove.org charitable foundation, which focuses on providing resources and awareness to help people and the environment. She is passionate about her philanthropic efforts, sharing her voice with local and global organizations around the world and will now bring those to Old Snowmass, in the style of concerts that Denver used to perform onsite, decades ago.

The concert benefits the Aspen Camp and School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in honor of Denver’s legacy and his long-running support of the camp. Serendipitously, Angelini’s upcoming CD features some of Denver’s songs, which she will be performing at the Oct. 2 show.

“I think this is a really great program, and they do so much for children and families,” she said.

The performance is also timed as a precursor performance to the John Denver tribute shows happening in Aspen the following weekend, Oct. 7-8.

The show will feature Angelini and friends. And, while she doesn’t want to reveal too many surprises about the afternoon benefit performance, she expressed delight that children and families will be involved, as many of the causes she supports through her music revolve around humanitarian efforts and helping children in need.

“I love to do as much as I can globally and locally. I go everywhere there is a need and a good cause,” she said.

She’ll be joined onstage by the children of the Aspen Noise Choir to perform one of her favorite Denver tunes, “I Want to Live.”

“It’s an amazing, diverse group of singers, and we have a special finale surprise in store for everyone. I love to introduce people to good works and take them on a journey to see how they can best help; so, this benefit concert with these singers and volunteers and beneficiaries is a perfect fit for the work that I do. And, I hope we raise a lot of money,” she said.

Admission is free for the fall fundraiser, but donations are encouraged. Angelini said the benefit is aligned with the spirit of Denver, both the performer and the individual.

“John was such a humanitarian and was truly ahead of his time,” she said.

She also said it won’t be a passive performance, with an afternoon of interaction between her and the attendees while she sings a mix of classic cover songs and some of her original recordings alongside an interpreter.

“I like to include everybody when I perform,” she said. “I want everyone to join me. This is going to be a very inclusive, uplifting, fun-loving show.”

If you go… What: Creekside Concert with Laura Angelini and friends When: 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2 Where: Aspen Camp School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Cost: Free; donations are encouraged to benefit Aspen Camp School More info: aspencamp.org

What: Creekside Concert with Laura Angelini and friends

When: 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2

Where: Aspen Camp School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Cost: Free; donations are encouraged to benefit Aspen Camp School

More info: aspencamp.or

What: Creekside Concert with Laura Angelini and friends

When: 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2

Where: Aspen Camp School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Cost: Free; donations are encouraged to benefit Aspen Camp School

More info: aspencamp.org

Laura Angelini
Courtesy photo

Wheeler Opera House hosts a weekend of John Denver tributes

“He was the first person I’d ever heard sing about nature. His music speaks to me the way it speaks to a lot of people,” said Chris Collins, lead singer of the John Denver tribute act.

This October marks the 25th anniversary of John Denver’s death, as well as 50 years since the release of one of his most well-known (and locally relevant) songs, “Rocky Mountain High.” Collins, reflecting on this moment, will return to perform in Aspen alongside the band Boulder Canyon Oct. 8 and said this year has even more significant meaning than years past.

Because of Denver’s connections to the Roaring Fork Valley, the Wheeler Opera House typically packs in a crowd of longtime fans for the tribute. This year, two nights of events are on tap on both Friday and Saturday, collectively called “A Celebration of John Denver’s Life and Music.” The first show will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 at the Wheeler Opera House. The show is called “Songs for a Life” and will feature Chris Bannister, Jeffrey Pine, and Chris Nole and Mack Bailey as a duo.

Night two features the aforementioned Collins and Boulder Canyon at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. Collins is excited to return to the place where this all started, having met the founding members of the band in Aspen years ago at the largest annual celebration of Denver’s life and music.

“The more I dug into his catalog of albums, the more I loved it. It’s how I paid my way through college — playing Jim Croce, James Taylor and John Denver,” he said.

And it didn’t hurt that Collins was strikingly familiar in both look and sound to the man he so admired. He hooked up with the other musicians (and fans) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Chris Collins (pictured) looks strikingly similar to John Denver.
Courtesy photo

“We’re not an imitation act. We don’t go onstage to imitate a John Denver performance. We try to give the audience an experience that makes them feel the way they used to feel when they listened to John Denver,” he said. “Much of what we do onstage is not exact notes. My band is incredibly talented, and we just let them off their leash.”

The band features Collins on six and 12-string guitar; Alex Mitchell on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, harmonica and cajon; Jim Connor (Denver’s banjo player) on banjo; Kevin Delmolino on bass; Paul Swanton on lead guitar; Nigel Newton on piano and keys; and Kj Reimensnyder-Wagner on harmony vocals.

Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon add scenes of nature in their tribute show.
Courtesy photo

And because the band doesn’t focus on exact notes, no two shows are exactly alike, even for fans who return to the tribute year after year.

“The audience keeps it fresh for us,” Collins said. “When we do our shows, I do my very best to sing in my own voice. I let the song out, and I find that’s the best way to deliver authenticity from a musical standpoint. The band truly, authentically enjoys the music so much. We have never had a problem with things feeling stale. Even though we’ve done the songs hundreds of times, there’s a comfort zone in them, like greeting a loved one. You never get tired of saying ‘Hi, Mom.’”

Comfort and familiarity, with a twist, are also a focus of the performance, as they frequently invite members of Denver’s original band onstage and mix those appearances with jokes and tales.

“This year, we’re going to feature the musician who wrote ‘Grandma’s Featherbed,’ Jim Connor, who is a very special guest fans will remember and love,” Collins said. “We also have a lot of original humor and original stories about what happens to us on the road. John (Denver) and I have a little bit of similarity in our delivery, so it seems familiar, but the stories are fresh.”

And Collins hopes these days of celebrations and heartfelt performances will provide longtime Denver fans, like him, with a place and headspace of joy to sustain them for the next 25 or 50 years.

“I really love who John was,” he said. “Some people loved his voice, his melodies and his connection to nature. I love that John used his celebrity to shine a light on global concerns. I hope to continue that legacy in his honor. As a band, I hope we represent his music well, and as an individual, I hope I can follow his example of how to be a good member of the human race.”

Songs for Life features four musicians Oct. 7 at Wheeler Opera House.
Courtesy photo
A tale of two tributes

If you go…

What: Songs for a Life: Remembering John Denver

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7

Where: Wheeler Opera House

Tickets: $45-$55

This event honors John Denver and his music with three shows in a one-night concert.

Chris Bannister opens the evening with his distinctive vocal style, which has led him to being compared to Denver. Twelve years ago, Bannister started performing his show, The Music of John Denver, after Denver’s former guitarist, Steve Weisberg, contacted him.

Jeffrey Pine, a world-class guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, takes the stage next. His repertoire includes original compositions, as well as the classics that pay tribute to Denver’s music.

Mack Bailey and Chris Nole close out the evening as a duo. Bailey is a nationally acclaimed singer-songwriter who has performed worldwide as a member of the renowned folk group The Limeliters. He has also sung with dozens of folk and country stars as a member of The Hard Travelers and Tribute to John Denver productions. The Aspen resident has a private practice working with the Aspen School District and with his nonprofit, Music Therapy of the Rockies. Nole recorded and toured internationally with Denver in the 1990s. He is currently a music producer and session musician in Tennessee.

Another show: A Tribute to John Denver with Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8

Where: Wheeler Opera House

Tickets: $55-$75

Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon have toured internationally, delighting audiences with their warmth, humor, talent and passion for Denver’s music. With stunning visuals of nature, they return to the Wheeler Opera House to perform hits like “Rocky Mountain High,” “Take Me Home,” “Annie’s Song,” “Sunshine” and more.

More info: wheeleroperahouse.com

Chris Collins and Boulder Canyon play Wheeler Opera House Oct. 8.
Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Mind trickery is on the menu at Death & Co.’s new pop-up cocktail tasting in Denver

The phrase “your mind is playing tricks on you” isn’t always what you want to hear from your bartender. But tricky and sensory analysis is actually the entire point of a new pop-up experience at Death & Co.’s Denver location inside the Ramble Hotel, at 1280 25th St.

The Neuro Bar Lab experience at Death & Co. cocktail bar aims to explore cognitive concepts like bias and reward response using liquor as the medium. For example, Jell-O shots may appear different to the eye, but are they really different in taste?The pop-up event is a companion experience to David Byrne's "Theater of the Mind." Both run through Dec. 18. (Provided by The Ramble Hotel)
These Jell-O shots may appear different to the eye, but are they really different in taste? Find out for yourself at Neuro Bar Lab at Death & Co. in Denver. (Provided by The Ramble Hotel)

The Neuro Bar Lab, which runs through Dec. 18, is billed as a companion to David Byrne’s “Theater of the Mind,” now playing at York Street Yards. That’s because the prix fixe beverage menu seeks to “expand on some of the neuroscience ideas explored in the show and create a sensory experience by way of cocktail tasting,” according to Devon Tarby, vice president of food and beverage at Death & Co.’s parent company Gin & Luck.

Tarby worked with Colorado-based neuroscientists to learn about various disciplines such as bias, brain barriers and reward response, and then teamed up with Death & Co.’s mixologists to figure out how to showcase the concepts using liquor as the medium. The result is a six-course, interactive tasting that entices drinkers with unexpected flavors, textures and tinctures, in hopes of shattering their preconceived notions.

Read more

Seven art and entertainment events happening this week in the valley

MUSIC

Fruition with Mama Magnolia, 9 p.m. Sept. 29

Fruition’s newest album, “Broken at the Break of Day,” shines a light on all five members of the band, whether it’s on the traded lead vocals of “Dawn” or the irresistible rhythms of “Where Can I Turn.” As it’s been for more than a decade, their sound is hard to define, but the songwriting and the harmonies tie their diverse influences together. Belly Up, $28-$45. bellyupaspen.com

BAYNK, 9:30 p.m. Sept. 30

Despite a youth spent falling in love with music and going to festivals, by the time New Zealand native Jock Nowell-Usticke discovered electronic music, he was already a multi-instrumentalist, studying chemical engineering at Canterbury University. Although he was familiar with the work of artists like Flume and Skrillex, he’d assumed that a band was behind the dynamic productions, until a friend introduced him to Ableton. “As soon as I opened it my mind was blown,” he said. Now age 28, Nowell-Usticke is an established artist and producer working under the alias BAYNK, with a trilogy of celebrated EPs, over 250 million streams, headline tours in the U.S. and Asia, and festival spots at Lollapalooza and Coachella under his belt. Belly Up, $35-$65. bellyupaspen.com

BAYNK
Courtesy photo

Highway 82, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 30

Last chance for the summer season’s Music on the Mall: A rich voice, the twang of electric guitar and steel, a rolicking piano and the pulse of bass drums fill Snowmass with the last band of the season’s lineup. Highway 82 is all about bringing everyone together for the love of Western Colorado music. Tower Stage, Snowmass, free. gosnowmass.com or hwy82band.com

Highway 82
Courtesy photo

SUSTO, 8 p.m. Oct. 1

With a rock-rooted sound that doesn’t shy away from radio-ready hooks, SUSTO keeps listeners engaged by refusing to occupy an easily defined space. Opener: Tommy the Animal, a band that attempts to pay homage to rock bands from the ’60s and ’70s. The band thrives on live performance energy, stage antics and three-part harmonies. TACAW, $22 members, $25 in advance, $35 day of show. tacaw.org

SUSTO
Courtesy photo

ART

Andrew Roberts-Gray and Brian Colley, Sept. 30 to Oct. 29 

Carbondale-based artist Andrew Roberts-Gray generates work that references discrete cultural traditions including science fiction, the history of the painted landscape and the development of the thinking machine. Brian Colley has worked as an independent artist and illustrator in the Roaring Fork Valley since 2010. His work is driven by a desire to dig deep into himself. “There I often find my imagination running wild, inspired by astronauts and dinosaurs, outer galaxies and inner consciousness, the history of this planet and universe, and the stories that drive us to change and be better humans. The paintings and prints I create are based in realism and have a tendency towards fantastic surrealism,” Colley said. The Art Base, theartbase.org

The Art Base exhibition

FILM

‘Till,’ 4 p.m. Oct. 2

“Till” is a profoundly emotional and cinematic film about the true story of Mamie Till Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who, in 1955, was lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. In Mamie’s poignant journey of grief turned to action, we see the universal power of a mother’s ability to change the world. Wheeler Opera House. aspenfilm.org

Jalyn Hall as Emmett Till and Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till Bradley in TILL, directed by Chinonye Chukwu, released by Orion Pictures.
Lynsey Weatherspoon / Orion Pictures

BOOKS

Janice Springer, 4:30 p.m. Oct. 5

Janice Springer spent most of her life dog mushing, hiking, kayaking and guiding canoe trips. Her emotional life is deeply entwined with this way of life. She’ll be reading from and talking about her two books of poetry, “Mourning Coat,” which has been embraced by the hospice and palliative care community and “Be Still.” Explore Booksellers. explorebooksellers.com

Janice Springer’s books
Courtesy photo

For more events, visit aspentimes.com/entertainment/calendar.

Mountain Mayhem: Aspen Film’s 43rd annual Filmfest is here, with screenings up and downvalley

Autumn in Aspen and Carbondale is synonymous with Aspen Film’s signature Filmfest, staged at the Wheeler Opera House and Isis Theatre upvalley and at the Crystal Theatre downvalley.

The 43rd annual Filmfest started Sept. 27, showcasing top filmmaking from across the globe. It runs through Sunday, Oct. 2. With only 16 films invited, the noncompetitive festival presents highly anticipated, buzzy fall titles coming off of some of the biggest film festivals around the world like SXSW, Cannes, Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York. 

“As we head into the final stretch of Filmfest, you won’t want to miss some of the festival’s award-winning highlights, including ‘Decision to Leave,’ ‘The Banshees of Inisherin,’ ‘Close’ and ‘Triangle of Sadness,’” said Aspen Film’s artistic and executive director Susan Wrubel. “In addition, we have a very special tribute Thursday, Sept. 22, to the late Bob Rafelson, filmmaker extraordinaire, and one of Aspen’s beloved artists. Please join us at the Wheeler at 8 p.m. as we remember Bob and offer a free screening of his notable film, ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice.’”

Aspen Film is also honored to present PosterFest 22, a unique opportunity to acquire a piece of Aspen’s Isis Theatre history, find a rare gem of movie memorabilia or snap up a poster embellished by a local artist, all in support of Aspen Film. The idea for PosterFest was sparked when Aspen Film received an incredibly generous gift from Dominic Linza and the Linza family, who owned and ran the Isis theater in Aspen from 1968 through 1998. In 2022, they decided to donate nearly 30 years’ worth of original movie posters from films shown at the theater to Aspen Film. Their collection was gifted specifically to help Aspen Film’s fundraising efforts. All proceeds of autographed originals, rare editions and original artist embellished posters, which range in price from $100 to $5,000, go towards Aspen Film. These works will be sold in person and online only during Filmfest.

The 2022 Filmfest is made possible through the generous support of The Aspen Times, Alpine Bank, Aspen Public Radio, Wheeler Arts Grant Program, AspenOUT, Les Dames, National Endowment of the Arts, Rotary Club of Aspen, Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado Office of Film Television + Media.

To learn more, visit aspenfilm.org.

The peaks are primed in fall colors for Filmfest.
May Selby
From a past Filmfest: Susan Wrubel with ‘Momentum Generation’ filmmakers Michael and Jeff Zimbalist following their screening.
May Selby
Aspen Film at home at The Wheeler.
Hal Williams
Aspen Film’s artistic and executive director Susan Wrubel with friends at a previous Filmfest.
Hal Williams
Lucas Franze and family at a previous Filmfest.
Hal Williams
Mark Godfrey, John Breen and Andy Godfrey at the screening of their documentary ‘3 Days 2 Nights’ several years ago at Filmfest.
May Selby
Aspen Film presents PosterFest 22, a unique opportunity to acquire a piece of Aspen’s Isis Theatre history with movie memorabilia or posters embellished by local artists, such as this piece by Jody Guralnick, all in support of Aspen Film.
Courtesy photo
Find yourself in the audience this week for Filmfest.
May Selby
Moviegoers John, Donna, Sean and Megan Shean at a past Filmfest.
May Selby

How the 10th Mountain Division soldiers became legends

If you like skiing, riding and your overall freedom, the 10th Mountain Division deserves a big thanks. And, the opportunity to learn more about the historical unit is an easy drive away — at Camp Hale.

On Sept. 9, Wilderness Workshop, in conjunction with 10th Mountain Division Living History, gave a free, six-hour driving and walking tour of Camp Hale.

Educators will offer more tours, albeit just 2 ½ hours this time, twice on Saturday at 10 and 10:30 a.m. at the entrance of Camp Hale as part of a rally for the proposed Camp Hale-Continental Divide national monument.

Stepping into history as told by educators deeply connected to the 10th Mountain Division provides a whole new appreciation for what our nation’s first mountaineering soldiers accomplished, both in WWII and beyond.

While the Germans, Italians and Finnish all had ski troops, the United States lagged, so they activated the 87th Mountain Infantry Battalion in 1941 to train men in mountain warfare. The battalion required three letters of recommendation, as well as mountaineering skills.

Construction of Camp Hale began in April 1942, and, on July 15, 1943, the 10th Mountain Light Division (renamed “Mountain” in 1944) was activated.

The effort to recruit the new division was unprecedented: It captured the imaginations of men with its glamourous models and elite status. Short films featured soldiers on skis, and, at first, it was the most difficult military unit to join. Students and coaches from the likes of Dartmouth’s ski team enrolled, along with two of the von Trapp brothers.

But, soon, the army ran out of volunteers and needed to draft men, so rich and poor, educated and uneducated, Northerners and Southerners found themselves dropped in the middle of Camp Hale at 9,200 feet. The first thing they had to learn was to how to survive, as opposed to fight, in the harsh winter climate.

Eventually, they worked up to carrying at least 94-pounds — not including their rifle and ammunition — on 7’6” wooden skis that didn’t have metal edges. The average soldier weighed 128 pounds and measured 5’8”.

“They had a ‘give us a mission; we don’t care if it’s impossible’ attitude,” said historian David Little.

And, that’s how they succeeded in the Battle of Riva Ridge in the northern Apennine Mountains of Italy on Feb. 18, 1945: They just didn’t know it was impossible to free climb the 1,700- to 2,220-foot sheer rock cliff at night in the fog. After all, it was what they’d trained for at Camp Hale. The Germans never suspected Americans would climb it, which allowed the 10th Mountain Division to mount a surprise attack and overtake enemy posts. From Feb. 19-25, the soldiers fought and took control of the Mount Belvedere ridgeline, causing at least 23 German troops to surrender.

Within the division’s 90-day mission in WWII, they lost 1,000 soldiers out of 20,000 who served in Italy, which the monument atop Tennessee Pass honors.

Saturday’s tour begins at 9 a.m. at the monument, which also showcases the 10th Mountain Division’s original flagpole. Participants can also join the tour at 10 or 10:30 a.m. at Camp Hale’s entrance.

Throughout the tour, you’ll hear about how the army straightened 5 miles of the Eagle River, in addition to hauling in over 6 million cubic yards of fill from as far as Nebraska to raise the swampy area. You might hear about how German POWs escaped, how a postal-service worker — and plenty of other soldiers — broke rules and how the army trucked in women for dances at the field house (of which significant ruins remain) from as far as Grand Junction.

You’ll also learn about how soldiers who returned made enormous contributions to the outdoor recreation industry, from starting over 60 different ski areas (without whom Vail, Aspen of Arapahoe Basin would not exist) to creating NOLS wilderness education, gear companies and biathlon events.

Overall, the tours heighten knowledge and appreciation for both the soldiers and the land upon which they trained.

If you go…

What: Camp Hale historical tour

When: Two separate tours, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday (option to meet at 9 a.m. atop Tennessee Pass at the 10th Mountain Division monument)

Where: Camp Hale Entrance for 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. tours

More info: wildernessworkshop.org (under events)

A plaque at Camp Hale dedicated to the memory of Tibetan Freedom Fighters, who were trained by the CIA at Camp Hale from 1958 to 1964.
Kimberly Nicoletti
Remnants of Camp Hale’s field house.
Kimberly Nicoletti
David Little points out areas of Camp Hale on the map during the Sept. 9 tour.
Kimberly Nicoletti

Rally on Saturday in Vail to make Camp Hale a national monument

Colorado ski towns could have a national monument right in their backyards, relatively speaking, and supporters hope it happens this fall.

This Saturday, Vet Voice Foundation, community leaders, elected officials and 10th Mountain veterans — including a 100-year-old 10th Mountain veteran — will gather with the public at the Colorado Snowsports Museum for a rally to support the proposed Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument.

“There will be a lot of fun and interactive ways people can get their voices heard and encourage President Biden to designate this to be a national monument, through tweeting, postcards, social-media posting, photos with the 10th Mountain Division and signs,” said Susie Kincaid, a rally organizer.

If the area becomes a national monument, it would be “an important step” toward protecting approximately 400,000 acres of land in the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act from logging, mining and drilling, she said.

CORE is a 10-year-long citizens’ campaign that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives five times but stalled in the Senate. It would safeguard areas including the Thompson Divide, the San Juan Mountains, the Continental Divide and Camp Hale as well as the Curecanti National Recreation Area.

CORE Act champions, including Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper, Rep. Neguse and Gov. Polis, are urging the Biden administration to designate the Camp Hale-Continental Divide region a national monument through executive action.

“The ultimate goal continues to be to pass the bill in Congress and have it signed into law,” Kincaid said. “Local communities across Colorado have joined together to protect these places for over a decade. These executive actions are ways to move forward now.”

According to a study by The Center for Western Priorities, 86% of Coloradans support the president taking executive action by designating a new national monument to protect land in the CORE Act, including 92% of Democrats, 84% of Republicans and 83% of Independents surveyed.

Yet, opposition to the designation exists. A letter to Pre. Biden from Rep. Lauren Boebert’s office urged him to refuse to make Camp Hale a national monument.

The letter expressed “grave concern regarding new efforts to unilaterally impose severe land-use restrictions on the people of Colorado and across the American West. … For years, big-city democrats … have attempted to implement massive new land grabs through the so-called Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act. The CORE Act land grab seeks to impose increased land restrictions on nearly 400,000 acres, 73,000 of which would be designated as new wilderness and close numerous forms of outdoor recreation and multiple-use, exacerbating wildfires in the process.”

The last action to protect large regions of public land in Colorado came in the form of the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act in December 2014 and the designation of Browns Canyon National Monument in February 2015.

“Administrative action through a national monument designation via the Antiquities Act by President Biden would permanently protect Camp Hale and the Tenmile Range, while honoring Colorado’s military legacy at the home of the 10th Mountain Division ski troops and the vast alpine terrain where they trained,” wrote Jim Ramey, regional director of the Wilderness Society, in a press release. “Protecting this place would be a unique and powerful tribute to those who served our country in World War II, then came home to build our skiing and outdoor recreation economy.”

The Antiquities Act grants the president power to determine how much land to protect under historic or scientific interest.

In a Colorado State Rep. Julie McCluskie-led letter to Pres. Biden supported by 30 Colorado state senators and representatives, she wrote: “These landscapes are simply too important for conservation and historic and cultural preservation to become the subject of ephemeral political whims. … While our advocacy on behalf of the legislation and our constituents will continue, the protection of these landscapes requires your immediate action. By conserving these lands, you will preserve a rich part of this country’s history through historic landmarks and objects of historic and scientific interest, and we know it will provide a path for your administration to protect additional public lands in Colorado in the future.”

Saturday’s rally at the Snowsports Museum in Vail extends the original 10th Mountain Division’s “can-do” attitude into the present-day environment, according to Kincaid.

“They had this ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude, and they brought that to the ski industry, and that’s how places like Vail got carved out of a sheep pasture,” Kincaid said.

Prior to the rally, anyone can take part in free events, including hikes and historical tours, in a sort of a choose-your-own-adventure.

At 9 a.m., people can meet at the 10th Mountain Division memorial atop Tennessee Pass where a member of the modern 10th Mountain Division will talk briefly about the healing power of nature and how it has helped soldiers returning from war. Jack Breeding from 10th Mountain Living History will also talk about how Camp Hale developed.

Driving and short walking tours will start at 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the entrance to Camp Hale. Participants will visit and learn about the camp’s headquarters, fieldhouse, climbing wall and rifle range.

Two hikes also start at 10 a.m: one for families with small children and a 4-mile moderate hike to Cataract Falls, as people walk in the footsteps of the 10th Mountain troopers while learning about the trail and national monument designation. Mountain Mamas leads the Tyke Hike to the climbing wall soldiers trained on, as well as a waterfall at Camp Hale.

“It will be a fun, educational and exciting day with all of these diverse events,” Kincaid said. “It’s an opportunity to be a part of history. We’re about to have a national monument in Eagle County, and that’s really exciting. We’re hoping it happens this fall.”

But, the office of Boebert’s letter warned Pre. Biden that “without local buy in, any designation of land under the Antiquities Act will be subject to considerable controversy, as well as never-ending litigation. … When the Antiquities Act is used as a workaround to the Congress and the will of the American people, the accompanying land designation rarely receives public support.”

It cited stakeholders who have formally objected to legislation containing CORE Act provisions, including American Energy Alliance, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Forests Resource Council, American Loggers Council, National Mining Association and Colorado organizations, such as Colorado Snowmobile Association, Dolores County, Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Mesa County, Montezuma County, Trails Preservation Alliance and more.

“While Camp Hale and our service members (who) were stationed there made important contributions to WWII, we don’t support the efforts of extremist environmentalists … to prohibit timber harvesting and mining on nearly 30,000 acres of land,” the letter stated. “A second request made by our colleagues would permanently withdraw 200,000 acres of land in the Thompson Divide — an area blessed with an abundance of natural-gas deposits — from energy exploration. Notwithstanding the fact that natural gas prices have surged to a 14-year high, this request is a solution in search of a problem since the area of controversy has already been administratively withdrawn.”

While Boebert urges the president to “allow the CORE Act to stand or fall on its own merits in the Congress,” CORE supporters will continue to rally to protect the land at Saturday’s event.

If you go…

What: Celebrate our Public Lands rally, historical tours and hikes

For: Proposed Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument

Saturday’s activities: 9-9:30 a.m. Camp Hale Memorial atop Tennessee Pass

10-11:30 a.m. Tyke Hike at Camp Hale

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Continental Divide Trail Coalition 4-mile moderate hike to Cataract Falls

10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 10:30 to 1 p.m. two separate tours, with history of Camp Hale

2:30 p.m. National Monument Rally at Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail

More info: wilderness-workshop.org (under events)

Presented by: Members of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act coalition and the Colorado Snowsports Museum

Participants at the Sept. 9 Camp Hale tour hold up a sign in favor of making the area a national monument.
Kimberly Nicoletti
Ruins of Camp Hale’s field house.
Courtesy photo
Historical photo of Camp Hale.
Courtesy photo

To many more: The Arts Campus at Willits celebrates first anniversary

Having live performances so close to home gives Roaring Fork Valley swashbucklers like Jason Hughes an easy reason to simply hop a 20-minute bus ride up valley.

In early June, the Glenwood Springs resident headed with his wife to The Arts Campus at Willits to catch a live performance by Aspen rock band Opera House Arson. 

The two would rendezvous with friends at nearby Wienerstube Restaurant, Jason would quaff authentic German lager out of a gigantic Das Boot stein, and then they’d go boogie down on the dance floor.

Dancing at night at TACAW.
Courtesy tacaw

“We continued the fun at TACAW,” he said. “TACAW is a great venue for live music, very intimate and plenty of room to cut a rug.”

More than 13,000 patrons — including Hughes — have attended shows at TACAW since the Willits performance hall opened in 2021. This also encompasses, as of last week, 106 live events and dozens of additional educational arts events catering to nearly 1,000 kids.

Drone view of patrons at TACAW.
Courtesy tacaw

TACAW celebrates this nascent success via its very first anniversary this weekend. This means hosting an all-day Saturday bash made up of live performances, cocktails and locally sourced fare.

TABL Cafe is open 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Out on the Listing Lawn comes a children’s performance, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” at 1 p.m. followed by musicians performing live 3-5 p.m. The night closes out with a main stage performance by funk/soul/jazz/rock-fusion band The Motet at 8 p.m.

Several reasons perhaps explain why the auspicious TACAW has seen such early paydirt. Some say it deviates from the hustle and bustle of Aspen, where venues like the famous Wheeler Opera House and big-time-artist-ridden Belly Up usually absorb all the socialites. One of them was longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident Johanna Payne. She remembers watching B.B. King pluck his unforgettably bluesy twang live at Belly Up. Back then, tickets were $20 a pop.

But like the once ubiquitous ski bum crushing après Pabst Blue Ribbon on Hopkins Avenue, those days have since melted away. Ticket prices have risen with mountain resort inflation. Space for parking in Aspen has also turned into a bit of a fender bender.

“Now that the traffic is so bad,” Payne said, “we rather go to TACAW.” 

The very idea of opening a new venue down valley came in 2001, TACAW Executive Director Ryan Honey said. It came directly out of the mind of architect Michael Lipkin. Lipkin is essentially the prime creator of Willits, a relatively young subsection of commerce and condos in Basalt. Honey said Lipkin intentionally set aside and reserved a parcel of land for a performing arts center.

Front of TACAW building.
Architectural Photography Aspen, Colorado, Interiors Photography, Hospitality

“He had pretty incredible foresight to do that,” Honey said of Lipkin.

Not until 2017 did the parcel’s first venue — The Temporary — open. Honey said it would operate on a “proof of concept” capacity to show prospective stakeholders it could be successful.

After two years of operation, however, nonprofit stakeholders and venue officials accumulated enough donations to eventually open the permanent brick-and-mortar venue standing before us today. For a price tag of $8 million, it turned into a 10,000-square-foot structure featuring a hall that can hold 400 attendees for standing room only or 240 when it’s only sitting.

A show at TACAW.
Courtesy tacaw

TACAW organizers also obtained a Randy Udall Energy (TRUE) Pioneer Grant to build a 64-kilowatt solar array on its roof, thus making it the nation’s first net-zero performance center, Honey said. By the way, Gov. Jared Polis proclaimed TACW’s Sept. 24 birthday as an official Colorado holiday. 

“The future is bright,” Honey said. “We’re really lucky to have a great community of patrons and great support of donations. We ask everybody to continue that support.”

Patsy Palaia, one of TACAW’s founding members, said opening the venue was a bit hard to do during COVID-19, and understandably. But, the 20-or-so founders of course did, and, right now, it’s giving the former longtime Aspen resident a great option to enjoy anything from Latinx drag shows to live plays.

“I’m familiar with the Wheeler Opera House because I’ve lived up there for 35 years and enjoyed the diversity of the shows they had up there,” she said. “They’re doing the same thing here.”

TACAW itself relies 60% on donations, which keep ticket prices lower than normal Aspen standards. Depending on the performance, the highest price point doesn’t even eclipse $55. Saturday night’s show, in fact, costs $20 to see a band that has graced the stage at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

For people like Roaring Fork’s Joani Leavenworth, TACAW is filling a huge void nobody has really done mid-valley, and, because of this, the place is likely to explode in popularity.

“Aside from the fact that they did a great job with the building, this part of the valley is just growing and growing,” she said. “People want to eat and see a show mid-valley instead of going to Aspen.”

A Voices performance at TACAW.
Courtesy tacaw
Whiffenpoofs at TACAW.
Courtesy tacaw
TACAW’s lobby.
Courtesy tacaw