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Theatre Aspen’s Heroes Program shines spotlight on valley’s frontline workers, community supporters

In an effort to recognize some of the local frontline workers and community activists who helped the Roaring Fork Valley get through the pandemic, Theatre Aspen announced its inaugural Aspen Heroes honorees who will be featured at performances this summer.

The company will honor 20 valley locals during this year’s “All for One” summer season, which is taking a new approach just like nearly everything else because of the pandemic. Theatre Aspen producing director Jed Bernstein said Thursday that the inaugural honor is meant to shine the spotlight from the stage to some of the valley’s workers who made it “safe and comfortable.”

“We were really impressed, walking around town, hearing stories about people who persevered and through their efforts made it possible for everybody else to be safe and comfortable,” Bernstein said. “We wanted to come up with a way to turn the spotlight on those folks.”

The honorees stretch up and down the valley and include people like David Wallach, who works at Clark’s grocery store in Aspen and caught the virus but returned to work after three weeks of being ill.

Wallach, who worked at the store for three summers in his teen years, returned in June 2016 and has been there since.

Wallach, 39, said Friday after he got off work that he was sick at the end of March and when he got back on April 13, things had changed. But it wasn’t too hard to learn the new rules. The toughest part of the ordeal was being away from the market for that long.

“Knowing I couldn’t go there and knowing they needed me and I couldn’t do anything about it, that was really hard,” Wallach said. “When I got back they greeted me with open arms, and it was easy once they told me the new rules.”

David’s mother, Betty Wallach, said all her son could think about while he was sick was getting back to the store. He was finally cleared to return after three weeks at home.

“He lost 11 pounds and was in bed for two weeks and as weak as a kitten,” Betty said. “His lungs are permanently damaged. All he cared about when he had the virus was getting back to work. ‘I must go to work. I must go to work.’”

With the help of his Mountain Valley Developmental Center job coach, Wallach was hired and works at the front of the store greeting shoppers. His manager and job coach talk often to make sure things are going well.

“He tells my coach that I’m reliable,” Wallach said, “and he loves having me at work. And when it’s four years he’s gonna have to put up with me for another four years.”

Bernstein said Theatre Aspen received more than 50 nominations, and a committee went through to narrow the field. Each honoree and a guest will be celebrated with a VIP evening during the season at the theatre and an on-stage salute. (The Aspen Times is a media sponsor of the program and had a representative on the selection committee.)

Among those being honored are Miranda Pingree, who works in the Roaring Fork School District’s transportation department and helped deliver school lunches to students when in-person learning was shut down, and Santos Marquez, who works in the city of Aspen’s parks department and kept the core and mall aesthecially pleasing.

Buttermilk mountain manager Travis Benson and Aspen Skiing Co. events manager Joey Woltemath are being recognized as two of the people who helped organize the memorable Aspen High School graduation in the Buttermilk parking lot and ride up the lift to the mountaintop for the diploma ceremony.

The list of this year’s winners will be on a plaque that will hang in the lobby of the tent. Bernstein said they hope to make it an annual event and show ways to pay it forward.

“I would see no reason why this can’t be repeated every summer,” he said. “And make it a hallmark of the theater, because you don’t need a pandemic to recognize people who are important to our community.”


Inside the making of the virtual Aspen Music Festival season

The Aspen Music Festival and School’s summer concert season is normally a logistical feat to behold, though most listeners never see or think much about the massive behind-the-scenes operation that moves pianos and orchestra equipment from venue to venue for some 400 concerts nonstop for eight weeks.

For the summer of coronavirus, as the festival moved all of its programming online, the technical achievement is no less complicated. It may be more of a feat, it turns out, to bring together artists on stages around the world for live concerts under the virtual Aspen tent.

The virtual Aspen season starts this weekend with a Fourth of July concert of patriotic favorites, recorded at the annual holiday concert in recent years at the Benedict Music Tent. On Sunday, the festival launches its first live event, for which it is bringing out some of the Music Fest’s favorite stars to honor music director Robert Spano, who is celebrating his 10th year in the post.

The live performances on the show will include some artists performing in Aspen.

The pianist Yefim Bronfman, who is living here for the summer, will perform from Harris Concert Hall (as he did this week for the virtual Aspen Ideas Festival). Mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor will also perform from the Harris stage, as will Michelle DeYoung (who lives in Boulder).

Violinist Robert McDuffie and Spano himself will be on a stage in Macon, Georgia, and most of the guest artists are strewn about the U.S. and abroad. Renee Fleming will be performing from her home studio in Virginia, Roderick Cox will be live from Berlin. Concerts in coming weeks will come live from Seattle (James Ehnes, July 12), from La Jolla (Alisa Weilerstien and Inon Barnatan, July 26), with others coming from Steinway Hall in New York, Switzerland and elsewhere.

A remote production team and fleet of sound engineers have been setting up the concerts — sending artists equipment, tweaking it for their varied settings and preparing what the Music Fest hopes will be a virtual experience worthy of the talents on the bill and seven-plus decade tradition of Aspen concerts.

“The team is working in advance and will be working live to make sure that this is worthy of who we are,” Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher said.

The producer-director of the series, Habib Azar, was a student of Fletcher’s at Carnegie Mellon University. In an Emmy-winning career overseeing multi-camera broadcast of live events, Azar has produced the Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” series and “Live from Lincoln Center” and has — through the COVID-19 crisis — helped many presenters go virtual, producing concerts for Juilliard and the New York Philharmonic along with the Music Fest.

Producing this Sunday’s concert, and the weekly recitals running through Aug. 23, Fletcher and festival leaders sought to make something meaningful — not simply a placeholder during the public health crisis.

It’s not as simple as flipping on Zoom and letting it rip.

The festival sought to create the highest quality audio and video experience possible, Fletcher explained. They put together kits with their favored web cameras, microphones, lighting kits and such, sent them out to the participants and have been running test concerts and sound checks with all of them.

The details are not something Fletcher and his colleagues ever anticipated being mired in. On a conference call with presenting executives around the world discussing the intricacies of virtual concerts, Fletcher recalled, one arts leader chimed in, “If I wanted to do this kind of thing I would have gone into TV and I would have made a lot more money.”

And yet, the challenge to serve loyal audiences and find new ones through this crisis is fulfilling, Fletcher said: “Also it is exciting and fun.”

Enough so, Fletcher said, that he believes the Music Fest will continue making live virtual content in the years to come — even after gathering for concerts is safe again. The educational programs they’re crafting, which begin next week and are also free, have been particularly exciting to think about as part of an ongoing curriculum in ears to come.

“We are learning about producing really meaningful content that can reach people all over the world,” Fletcher said. “We will continue with that.”

The Music Fest team also put a guidance page on its website, directing viewers on how to get the best quality audio-visual experience from the webcasts (best experienced through a TV and with a stereo system rather than laptop or phone speakers).

The concerts will be hosted on YouTube, broadcast on the aspenmusicfestival.com and Facebook Live. Fletcher said his team explored more customized platforms than YouTube, but found it was the most accessible around the world — so listeners nearly everywhere should be able to watch the programs.

Virtually, the festival may be able to be more inclusive than it’s ever been. Its programs could potentially reach a more diverse audience. Fletcher is hopeful on that front.

“We are finding that maybe we can reach people that might never have made a trip to Aspen,” he said, “but now that we are doing everything we do for free we might be able to reach some communities that we were unable to reach before.”


Flash Card Project showcases work by 50-plus Aspen area artists

The artist and curator Wewer Keohane conducted a visual survey of locally based artists during the stay-home period following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic this spring. The results — original, anxiety-filled works by 54 artists made during the quarantine period — are now on view online and at the R2 Gallery in Carbondale.

Keohane used language-learning flash cards as the starting point for the project, prompting artists to respond to the imagery and text on the randomly chosen cards. She sent invitations to about 75 artists, most of them locals and friends.

More than 50 artists accepted the challenge. Many artists, Keohane included, found themselves blocked during the stay-home period. The simple flash card prompt helped give them something creative to do and a way to channel all the fear and uncertainty of this historic moment.

“It’s turned out to be a healing arts event as much as it is a fine arts event,” Keohane said this week.

Her packrat tendencies have often informed and shaped her artwork — memorably making works from ephemera like shooting targets, paper fans and fortune cookies that she’s collected over the years. The flash cards turned up as she was procrastinating and cleaning her studio early in the quarantine period in March.

“At the beginning of the isolation I decided to just be in the studio as much as I could, but I wasn’t feeling creative,” Keohane recalled.

She ended up cleaning, rearranging, painting the floors, cataloging odds and ends. And she came across these language cards. She thinks she bought them in 1996, either at an antique barn or at the old Glenwood Springs thrift shop. At first Keohane thought she might make a collage from them herself.

“I started going through them and I thought it would be fun to send to my friends during this time and give them a creative project,” she said. “Because I knew a lot of people who were not happy at that moment.”

She then wrote a proposal to Carbondale Arts to host the show in 2021. The nonprofit’s Brian Colley and Amy Kimberly jumped on the idea and proposed to host it sooner, as they were canceling out 2020 shows at the R2.

The responses from artists wowed Keohane and the Carbondale Arts team.

“People took it seriously,” Keohane said. “People really spent time with it. A lot of us talked about how all we could seem to do was clean our studios. Giving ourselves this project maybe was the shove a lot of us needed.”

Many responded viscerally and personally from quarantine. Some directly represented the pandemic in their artwork: Scott Keating painted a gold ring with the virus as the red and purple gem mounted on it; Nancy Lovendahl painted a hand working a bar of soap; Jocelyn Murray made an upside down question mark.

Lara Whitley’s response ended up being the centerpiece of the show. Responding to the hoarding witnessed at the outset of the pandemic, Whitley built a toilet paper and papier-mâché tree expected to stand 8 or 9 feet tall.

Keohane will have some flashcards available on site as takeaways, to be used as creative prompts by audience members. And Whitley’s piece, appropriate to the COVID-19 moment, includes free rolls of toilet paper for visitors to take home.


AHS museums reopen to public

The Aspen Historical Society’s Wheeler/Stallard Museum and Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum both opened to the public Tuesday, following a 15-week closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Masking and social distancing are required for visitors at both locations, while the 11 a.m. to noon hour will be reserved for seniors and vulnerable guests daily. The museums are open to the general public from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Free admission is also available at both museums currently. At Holden/Marolt, the Historical Society is offering free admission for car-free visitors. At the Wheeler/Stallard, admission will be free until a new exhibit opens in the second floor galleries.

That exhibit, “Decade by Decade: Aspen Revealed,” is expected to be ready this month. It explores the stories that shaped the community’s distinct identity: from mining boom to dilapidated ranching town to today’s international recreational and cultural resort.

Featuring photographs and artifacts that represent Aspen’s connection to national events and trends, the exhibition reflects on the community’s place within the larger historical landscape of the nation.

Aspen Art Museum to reopen Wednesday for first time since March

The Aspen Art Museum will reopen to the public Wednesday and welcome the public with extensive health and safety measures in place to protect staff and visitors, it announced Tuesday.

Museum officials finalized the opening plan Tuesday after Pitkin County cleared the way for museums to open last week. It has been closed since mid-March due to public health restrictions in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Starting Wednesday, visitor traffic will be regulated to 25% of capacity throughout the building, in compliance with current city and country requirements. Hourly entries will be limited to 50 people, and group party sizes limited to six people. While walk-in visitors will be permitted as capacity allows, the museum strongly recommends reservations. Entry can be pre-booked via aspenartmuseum.org at no charge.

All visitors and staff will be required to wear face masks, and there will be hand sanitizing stations on each floor, as well as at the entrance and exit of the museum. Traffic in the galleries will be one-way, and there will be designated paths in some areas to ensure a minimum of 6-feet physical distancing at all times.

Wednesday’s opening marks the first time the public will see “where i am and was,” the first solo museum exhibition of British painter Rose Wylie in the United States. Originally scheduled to open March 20, the exhibition has been extended and will remain on view until Nov. 1.

Two outdoor sculpture installations, the openings of which were postponed due to the coronavirus, also will now be open to the public: Maren Hassinger’s site-specific work “Nature, Sweet Nature” in the Roof Deck Sculpture Garden and Kelly Akashi’s “Cultivator” in the Crown Commons.

“Nature, Sweet Nature” features two distinct wire and concrete works — “Garden” and “Paradise Regained” — which mimic the plant life in the museum’s open-air Level 3 environment. Hassinger is known for exploring nature and movement in commanding sculptures that juxtapose the natural and industrial worlds — galvanized wire ropes resemble reeds, grasses and other vegetation.

“Cultivator” consists of a larger-than-life bronze cast of the artist’s own hand, overgrown with glass flowers and vines. These glass pieces reference flora local to the Roaring Fork Valley.

The museum also has extended two current exhibitions: Oscar Murillo’s “Social Altitude” (open through Sept. 28) and Lisa Yuskavage’s “Wilderness” (open through Oct. 18).

The museum’s SO Café will be open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with limited capacity table service available by reservation for parties of six people or fewer. Weekly menus and café guidelines are available online.

The first public evening event scheduled as part of the museum reopening is the Jazz Aspen Snowmass JAS Café summer series. It will launch with evening performances July 10 and 11 in rooftop space. Tickets are limited to 50 people per show with two performances each evening.

Virtual Aspen Ideas Fest’s full 45-speaker lineup

The online 2020 Aspen Ideas Festival, opening Sunday evening and running through July 2, has released its full lineup.

In addition to previously announced speakers, the daily online events will include Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven among 45 featured leaders and thinkers.

The five-day festival will take place from June 28 – July 2, with daily 90-minute episodes beginning at 5 p.m. It is free, but registration is required for live viewing.

Topics for the sessions include COVID-19, leadership, racial oppression, CRISPR, the economy, and freedom of the press as well as arts, science, the economy, diplomacy, democracy, and the present juncture our society is in.

Speakers include political leader and Fair Fight Action Chair Stacey Abrams; Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Talking Heads frontman and Arbutus founder David Byrne; Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases DirectorAnthony Fauci; Sinovation Ventures Chairman and CEO Kai-Fu Lee; Columbia University linguistics professor John McWhorter; NPR’s “Invisibilia” co-host Lulu Miller; former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson; journalist and Rappler co-founder Maria Ressa; and playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith.

Performances from musicians Yefim Bronfman and Jon Batiste are also on the schedule.

The full schedule is online at aspenideas.org.

Sunday, June 28: The latest Covid-19 developments, the ongoing fight for voter rights, and how music can change minds.


• Stacey Abrams and Brittany Packnett Cunningham

• David Byrne and Darren Walker

• Anthony Fauci and Elizabeth Cohen

Big Ideas: Leah Thomas, Sandy Speicher, Tom Wilson

Monday, June 29: Can artificial intelligence help us prepare for the next pandemic? How do we process what’s become a major cultural inflection point in America and around the world? You’ll also hear about leadership in the United States and what’s happening during a momentous term for the Supreme Court.


• Maria Ressa and Lulu Garcia Navarro

• William McRaven and Andrea Mitchell

• Linda Greenhouse and Theodore Olson with Ray Saurez

• Kai-Fu Lee and Nick Thompson

Big Ideas: Emma Robbins, Adaora Okoli, Lata Reddy

Tuesday, June 30: Hear about freedom of the press, America’s role in the world, children’s mental health, and the role of innovation in dealing with world health.


• Bill Gates and Stephanie Mehta

• Madeleine Albright and Nicholas Burns

• Anna Deavere Smith and Yuval Sharon with Kate D. Levin

Big Ideas: Helen Egger, Mark S. Zaid, Ariana Tulay

Perfomance: Yefim Bronfman

Wednesday, July 1: The mayor of Atlanta opens up. How will CRISPR change our approach to disease? Get a glimpse of the life of Winston Churchill and his ability to unite. Hear about the future of the economy.


• Erik Larson and John McWhorter

• Keisha Lance Bottoms and Angela Rye

• Henry Paulson, Jr. and Gillian Tett

• Walter Isaacson and Susan Goldberg

Big Ideas

Caryl Stern, Neal Katyal, Lakshmi Karan, Marla Blow

Thursday, July 2: We’re examining racial oppression in America. Where do we go from here? What’s our significance on the cosmological timeline? Is language the key to helping us remake our world?


• Alicia Garza and Michael Eric Dyson

• Lulu Miller and Krista Tippet

• Brian Greene and Dan Porterfield

Big Ideas: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Performance: Jon Batiste

The 12 concerts that defined Jazz Aspen’s first 30 years

Jazz Aspen Snowmass is marking its 30th anniversary this weekend, though not in the fashion music fans expected. Instead of the annual June Experience taking over downtown Aspen venues for a jammed weekend of shows, the festival is all-virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic. The in-person celebrations will wait until the 2021 editions of the June and Labor Day fests.

To track the organization’s three decades of history, we asked its founder and CEO Jim Horowitz to pick the moments he believes have defined Jazz Aspen.

1. Jazz in Marciac

August 1989

JAS 25th Annv. Book photos, Jazz in Marciac, 2011

“This is where the dream began,” recalls Horowitz. A visit to the tiny French town’s outdoor jazz festival – hosted in tents on a rugby field – inspired the concept for what would become Jazz Aspen.

2. Ramsey Lewis Trio

June 1991

The Original Ramsey Lewis Trio, 6/23/91 Jazz Aspen’s first festival.

The inaugural June festival included a reunion of jazz pianist Ramsey Louis’s group at the Benedict Music Tent, along with the local debut of Tuck & Pattie and free shows in Wagner Park.

3. B.B. King

June 1993


“This completely and overnight put us on the map,” Horowitz says. After two years at the Benedict in Aspen, the festival was lured to Snowmass Village – hosting shows in a tent at the rodeo grounds and in the Snowmass Conference Center, where King headlined. Major events were sparse in Snowmass then, but Horowitz believes the move gave the renamed Jazz Aspen @ Snowmass an identity, and B.B. King gave it a new legitimacy in audience’s eyes.

4. Tony Bennett

December 1993


The legendary crooner played a holiday Jazz Aspen show at the new Ritz-Carlton, capping a year where Bennett regained relevance through his Red Hot Chili Peppers collaboration and when Jazz Aspen scored a key behind-the-scenes breakthrough: gaining a major sponsor in the Colorado-based Janus Funds. The mutual fund would bankroll a new Jazz Aspen pop music festival over Labor Day weekend, attract new donors and in 1996 become the organization’s first title sponsor. Horowitz credited the Janus relationship for creating a “culture of giving” around the nonprofit, with robust fundraising from a local and national network of corporate and individual donors. Bennett would return to Jazz Aspen several times in the decades to follow.

5. Christian McBride & Ray Brown

Summer 1996


Jazz Aspen’s work in music education efforts bloomed with its first jazz academy in 1996, drawing teachers like bassists Ray Brown and Christian McBride, who today serves as artistic director of the JAS Academy.

6. The Headhunters

June 1997

Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters, JAS June Festival, Fri. June 19, 1998.

The legendary Herbie Hancock reunited with his early ‘70s band for Jazz Aspen, holing up in the Silvertree Hotel for four days of rehearsals before a triumphant festival performance.

7. Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, Bonnie Raitt

June 2000


“Our tenth-year June festival was a critical and artistic triumph,” Horowitz recalls of the three-night “three divas” run. at The tenth June festival. “it was magic from the first note to the last, and no one wanted it to end.”

8. Bob Dylan

Labor Day 2002


Relocated to Buttermilk for the year, due to construction in Snowmass, the festival drew record crowds and its first international press for booking Dylan. This still buzzed-about show made Labor Day an attraction for heritage and classic rock acts, while making the music industry take notice of the festival.

9. The Black Eyed Peas

Labor Day 2009

JAS Labor Day Festival 2009
Sat. Sept. 5

Playing Snowmass Town Park at the height of their global popularity in 2009, Horowitz calls this “a top ten all time show, a triumph on every level.” Falling amidst the Great Recession, Horowtize noted, the show actually did not sell out.

10. Cyrille Aimee & Diego Figureido

January 2012


The JAS Café started in 2011 at the Little Nell, bringing cool and intimate seasonal jazz club to town that drew international talent like this French-Brazilian duo, who sold out a Sunday night midwinter show that set the standard for a decade of JAS Café. “It was an instant hit and it turned JAS into a year-round presenter,” Horowitz says.

11. Stevie Wonder

Labor Day 2016

JAS Labor Day Festival, Stevie Wonder, Sun. Sept. 4, 2016

“Despite years of presenting many iconic artists at JAS, Stevie took things to another level, including expectations for the caliber of artist JAS was capable of delivering,” Horowitz recalls. “It was, simply put, probably the single biggest show in the history of JAS, if for no other reason than the expectations it created for future and equally epic performances by other legendary artists.

12. Sting & John Mayer

Labor Day 2019

Sting, JAS Labor Day Festival, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019

John Mayer, JAS Labor Day Festival, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019

In the post-Wonder years, Jazz Aspen has sold out multiple nights over Labor Day and landed artists – like these two superstars – who had been on their wish list for years. These back-to-back performances yielded “yet another level of expectation” for Labor Day, says Horowitz.

AND … The JAS Center

Coming December 2021


The next chapter is in downtown Aspen above the historic Red Onion, where the JAS Center is due to open at the end of next year and begin hosting concerts and jazz instruction. Horowitz believes it will begin a new era for Jazz Aspen, saying “the successful conclusion of this grand project will be one of the biggest game changers in JAS history.”


Drive-In movies coming to Aspen Meadows this weekend

Aspen Film will produce two drive-in movie experiences Friday and Saturday at Aspen Meadows. The free drive-in experience will show “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” on Friday and “Field of Dreams” on Saturday in the Music Fest parking lot at the corner of North Third Street and Gillespie Avenue.

The program will be presented by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) and partners from the Aspen Institute, Aspen Meadows Resort, Rowland + Broughton architects and the Aspen Music Festival and School.

“We are pleased to partner with Aspen Film for Movies at the Meadows as a gift to the community and a celebration of getting out after being in.” ACRA President and CEO Debbie Braun said in the announcement. “While summer 2020 will look quite different from Aspen summers as we have come to know and love them, the Aspen community is resilient and adapts to dynamic changes in our ecosystem. This event is just one example of how wonderful collaborations can come to life when faced with changes created by circumstances outside of our control.”

Each film will begin at sundown (approximately 8:45 p.m.). Admission for each car will be free, but reservations are required. Space is limited to 47 vehicles per night, keeping in line with current social distancing measures.

Guests may only attend in automobiles — no motorcycles, no bikes, no walks-ups. Anyone not in a car will be turned away.

Reservations opened noon Monday. All RSVPs will be accepted via email through movies@aspeninstitute.org. Please include the film you would like to attend, your name, license plate, make and model of your car and the best phone number in your email RSVP.

“Aspen Film is thrilled to be partnered with such incredible local organizations and businesses to present Movies at the Meadows,” said Aspen Film executive and artistic director Susan Wrubel. “Since venues were shuttered due to COVID-19, we have had to take all of our recent programming online. We are so thrilled to be able to gather under social distancing guidelines to watch a couple of classic films together outdoors.”

Movie snacks and bottled beverages will be available for pre-purchase from Plato’s, the Aspen Meadows Resort’s restaurant. Filmgoers also are welcome to bring their own food to enjoy.

More information about dining options will be provided when RSVPs are confirmed.

Citing COVID-19 economic struggles, historic Toklat Gallery will close after 70-plus years

The Toklat Gallery in Basalt will close business this summer, ending a 71-year run for the Mace family’s business that traces its roots to the founding of modern Aspen.

“I powered through the Great Recession and then again through the Great Fire and have neither the stamina nor the wish to power through the Great Virus,” owner Lynn Mace wrote in a gallery newsletter. “That is because I foresee no end to the economic, social, and cultural upheaval brought forth by the COVID-19.”

Mace plans to close the gallery at the end of June, she said Friday. Her lease on the gallery space runs through July. She is hoping to stage a public exhibition about her family’s local history at the gallery in July.

She is currently selling all of Toklat’s inventory of artwork in the shop — open noon to 7 p.m. — as well as online. Mace in recent weeks has been circulating a Dropbox link with photos of everything that’s up for sale from Toklat.

The gallery’s storied past as a wilderness lodge, restaurant and dog-sledding operation is intertwined with the birth of Aspen as a resort after World War II.

Lynne’s parents, Stuart and Isabel Mace, officially opened the Toklat Wilderness Lodge in the upper reaches of the Castle Creek Valley near the Ashcroft ghost town on June 27, 1949, coinciding with the Goethe Bicentennial and the birth of modern Aspen. Its first guests were attendees of the Goethe conference that launched “the Aspen idea,” the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival and School and the rebirth of Aspen itself.

The Maces came to Aspen on a personal invitation from city father Walter Paepcke, who wrote to Stuart Mace in December 1947 encouraging him to relocate his Boulder-based dogsled touring operation to Aspen. Mace had developed his dog skills during his service running dog-sled rescue operations during World War II.

Paepcke urged Mace to join them as their top dogsled man, offering financial incentives and land.

The Maces, with their famed dogs in tow, took over 2.7 acres of land near Ashcroft and built what would become Toklat from recycled stone and lumber.

While its locations and its businesses have shifted over the decades, art has been a constant at Toklat.

In the early years of the lodge and dog-sled operation at Ashcroft, the family kept a small building in front of it that functioned as an art gallery and gift shop showcasing three-dimensional crafts. It also operated as a filming location for the television series “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon,” co-starring the Toklat dogs, in the 1950s. In downtown Aspen during the 1950s and ’60s, the Maces also operated a kiosk art gallery in front of The Aspen Times on Main Street. That shop offered Lynne Mace her first experience as a gallerist, working the kiosk after school as a teenager.

The family’s restaurants in Aspen also always included arts and crafts offerings for guests. The Ashcroft space — which doubled as the Mace family home — became a dedicated gallery and restaurant in 1974, after Mace gave his dogsledding business to musher and future Krabloonik proprietor Dan MacEachen.

Through all the evolutions of Toklat, hand-crafted art was a constant, from her father’s photography and marquetry to the paintings, furniture and woodworks in the gallery today.

The Maces were a living embodiment of the Aspen Idea, devoting their life here to physical, artistic and spiritual pursuits in the mountains. They raised their five children at Toklat in that mold.

“I wanted to give my kids a place to build their mind, body, imagination and artistic sense,” Stuart Mace said in a 1974 “Bill Moyers Journal” segment. “You can’t appreciate your fellow man until you appreciate nature; without that you can’t feel any wholeness.”

In 1993, Lynne Mace returned home from Connecticut to manage Toklat. The historic Ashcroft building and land, which the Maces had a lifetime lease on from the Ryan family, was sold to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies — of which her father was a founding board member — in 2005. Lynne Mace then moved the gallery to Basalt.

As she prepares to close Toklat for good, Mace said that her family artifacts will remain on view at the new Catto Center at Ashcroft including dog sleds, furniture and stained glass and copper pieces from the original Toklat building.


Anderson Ranch Arts Center virtual summer series artist announced

Anderson Ranch Arts Center this week announced the seven artists to be featured in its annual Summer Series of public conversations. The events, normally hosted in Shermer Meeting Hall on the Snowmass Village campus, have moved online due to public health restrictions on large gatherings.

The series will include free public talks by Mark Grotjahn (July 2), Nicole Eisenman (July 9), Deana Lawson (July 23), Silke Otto-Knapp (July 30), Christina Quarles (Aug. 6) and Taveres Strachan (Aug. 13).

Speakers were selected by Ranch curator-in-residrnce Helen Molesworth, who will interview most of the 2020 guests.

“These won’t be your typical ‘online events,’” Ranch president and CEO Peter Waanders said in the announcement. “We are excited to present some exclusive offerings to attendees which could only have been made possible by this extraordinary time. We look forward to a great season of art, art making and big ideas.”

The annual Summer Series has featured influential artists and explored the work of world-renowned creators and curators in both lecture and Q&A formats. Past artist participants have included Nick Cave (2019), Sanford Biggers (2019), Ai Weiwei (2018), Doug Aitken (2017), Wangechi Mutu (2017), The Haas Brothers (2016), Frank Stella (2015), Theaster Gates (2014) and Marina Abramovic (2013).

Events are free, but registration is required at andersonranch.org.