| AspenTimes.com

Harvey Steiman: Abduraimov paints powerful ‘Pictures’

The Virtual Aspen Music Festival’s Sunday concerts have been going from strength to strength in a year without audiences in the seats. Pianist Behzod Abduraimov’s program Sunday, the most recent live-streamed success, made something special out of familiar music. Most impressively, his intense work on Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” coaxed out all the color and scene-painting drama that 88 keys can muster. Abduraimov, who like Daniil Trifonov the previous Sunday, has yet to reach his 30th birthday, has become a regular at the summer festival over the past few years. And why not? His no-nonsense stage presence wins over audiences with a mastery of tone and technique, clear ideas of how he wants to phrase the music, and thrilling jolts of rhythmic energy. All that was on display Sunday in the hourlong concert from the Harris Hall stage in Aspen. He opened with a gauzy take on Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, had gentle fun with Debussy’s “Children’s Corner” suite, and drove “Pictures” to a titanic finish.

Most music lovers know “Pictures” from Ravel’s iconic orchestration (or dozens of other composers’ instrumentations), but Mussorgsky was inspired to create this series of musical impressions for solo piano by a posthumous exhibition of paintings by his friend Viktor Hartmann. The technically challenging and masterfully crafted music brought out the best in Adburaimov, who sought differences in the various iterations of the familiar “Promenade” that introduces and separates most of the movements, found appropriate tempos throughout, and applied a different touch to each scene.

Early on, he sprinkled some delicate magic over “Tuileries,” plodded ominously through the persistent slog of “Bydlo,” and brought a sparkle to the version of the “Promenade” that followed. The camera caught him using soft pedal to add contrast to “Samuel Goldberg and Schmuyle.” The rhythmic lift in “Baba-Yaga” led to a majestic reading of “The Great Gate of Kiev,” which kept gathering in intensity until the final stretched-out chords. That mastery of details wasn’t quite there for the opening work. Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata emerged as dreamy and understated in the contemplative first movement, given some depth by judicious rubato and visual interest by creative fingering that at times brought to mind that 20th-century master Chico Marx. A sound balance that felt like it turned down the treble a bit too much robbed the delicate dance of the allegretto of its lilt, and toned down the vigor of the presto agitato finale.

In conversation with festival CEO Alan Fletcher on Monday’s High Notes discussion, Abduraimov revealed that he had only recently learned this sonata, a piece nearly aspiring pianists usually tackle early. He turned to it during his isolation due to the current pandemic. No doubt he’ll find more details (and apply less pedal to it) as he continues to program it.

Debussy’s charming “Children’s Corner” provided a welcome change of pace between the temperamental Beethoven and dramatic Mussorgsky. Though muted a bit by the sound balance, the amiable scene-painting in Debussy’s earlier piano work contrasted smartly with pieces around it. “Jimbo’s Lullaby” revealed a sweet touch, and the intricate interplay of “The Snow Is Dancing” made its own magic. The finale, “Golliwog’s Cakewalk,” strutted winningly.

As an aside, one thing these virtual concerts miss is an encore. Traditionally, of course, an encore is a musician’s gift to an audience for its enthusiasm. With no live audience present, throwing one in would seem presumptuous, but damn, a soothing Chopin nocturne or quiet Mendelssohn song without words would have made a nice bookend to calm things down after that resplendent “Great Gate of Kiev.”

The concert repeats on the festival’s website and YouTube channel at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Coming up this week: Next Sunday’s featured concert at 3 p.m. brings back more Aspen regulars. Violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Jeremy Denk take on three of Charles Ives sonatas, works that they interpreted brilliantly before an appreciative audience in a previous season. Midweek, two longtime faculty stalwarts provide glimpses of their teaching process in 5 p.m. showcases: harpist Nancy Allen Wednesday and oboist Elaine Douvas on Thursday.

Harvey Steiman has been writing about the Aspen Music Festival since the early 1990s. His reviews appear Tuesdays in The Aspen Times.

The Diesel, aka Shaquille O’Neal, roars into Belly Up for soldout Saturday night show

Aspen may be trying to cut back on its emissions, but there’s still a lot of Diesel coming through. Like, over 7 feet of it.

In one of the “only at Belly Up” spectacles of the season, playing at the club Saturday night is an NBA Hall of Famer, TNT broadcaster, Icy Hot Back Patch-wearer, lieutenant to The General and platinum-selling rapper and DJ.

No, this isn’t a group — it’s one, albeit bonus-sized, person: Shaquille O’Neal.

OK, but is this just some celebrity DJ appearance? Not according to his Lollapalooza and Decadence shows, where Mordor Army-sized crowds lose their minds to “Mr. Brightside” and “All I Do Is Win” remixes. Do the EDM kids even remember those songs?

“I have been DJing since the ’80s,” O’Neal said in an email interview. “Back at LSU I was big into spinning hip-hop and rap and now I have shifted over to a blend of hip-hop and dance music. … I’m always listening to new music, especially when on the road and in arenas for games. I’ll hear something new and be like, ‘Oh, I need that,’ and come back to it later. I am also always talking to other DJs and friends about what’s hot.”

That mix of new and classic songs, led by The Big Conductor (just trying to add a new nickname to Shaq’s vast arsenal), is exactly what a certain generation wants to see — Diesel’s debut Aspen show on Leap Day, the world’s most underrated holiday, is sold out.

As both a four-time NBA champion and huge draw for festivals, Shaq is used to a large audience, but said he’s excited for the capacity crowd at Belly Up just the same.

“I love them both. Small clubs are more intimate and personal, while big festivals really do feel like a Game 7. The countdown till the beat is like the countdown till the buzzer, and when the beat drops, it’s like hitting the game-winning shot.”

Special appearances by other musicians and celebrities have been common at O’Neal’s performances, and you never know who you might see at Belly Up.

“Diesel always has a trick up his sleeve, so let’s see,” O’Neal hinted.

And as a prediction, Charles Barkley did say “Shaq, you wanna go to Denver this weekend?” on the Thursday production of “Inside the NBA,” so maybe if you were really hankering for some Sir Charles on the turntables, your dreams will come true.


Inside Anderson Ranch’s Circle of Fire

The kiln yard at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village is something of a mecca for ceramicists.

You can’t find anything like it outside of an art school campus. With a gravel floor and firewood stacked high to the ceiling, this stable of wood- and gas- and hybrid-fired kilns is the largest of its kind in the U.S. outside of an institution of higher learning. During the Ranch’s summertime sessions, it’s a round-the-clock locus of ceramics workshops and a place where high-profile artists, from Tom Sachs to the Haas Brothers, have fired sculptures.

But through the rest of the year — the Ranch’s offseason that stretches from October through April — the arts center opens its kilns to the local community. Its “Circle of Fire” club — open to all comers — convenes once a month to fire up the kilns and make new work.

The November edition brought out 10 ceramicists from Aspen, Snowmass, the Roaring Fork Valley and art students from as far as Gypsum making the pilgrimage to the Lyeth/Lyon Kiln Building.

“It’s fun to be able to introduce people to this,” said Ranch ceramics studio coordinator Louise Deroualle, who oversees the club. “Most people just hear about it by word of mouth.”

Artists bring pre-glazed work and convene on the kiln yard for a loading day with Deroualle. On an afternoon in early November, she climbed into the kiln known as “V8,” the eighth version of a hybrid wood- and gas-fired kiln originally named “Little Vicky” hand-built by the recently retired Anderson Ranch icon Doug Casebeer.

Nearby on a long table, an assortment of pre-glazed vases, cups, pots, vessels, plates and sculptures were laid out as Deroualle strategized how to fit them all inside. She evaluated them by height and had artists hand them to her, one by one, as she loaded the kiln in a sort of reverse-Tetris process — building a row of pieces, placing a shelf on top, then starting another — until it was filled to its arched brick roof.

“It’s a team effort and it’s a challenge,” Deroualle said.

Jeannie Seybold has been a regular at the community firings for the past three years. During the loading process this time around, the task of “wadding” — placing tiny cylinders of nonstick material on the bottoms of ceramics so they don’t adhere to the kiln — fell to her.

“I’ve been taking workshops for years and I got hooked on clay,” she said.

That night, they turned on the gas to heat it up overnight. In the morning at 8 a.m. Deroualle and the crew began stoking it with wood, monitoring the temperature through burning cones inside and a less-reliable thermometer outside, getting it up to roughly 2,400 degrees for the 48-hour firing process.

The hybrid kiln is a bit less labor intensive than the pure wood kilns, which require artists to be on hand around the clock stoking it with wood and monitoring the temperature throughout the process. During those firings, club members take shifts to keep the fire going steady overnight.

“They are here for fun, but it requires commitment,” Deroualle said, noting that the kiln yard has strict no-drinking, no-music, no-partying rules. “You need all your senses.”

After a day of firing at 5 p.m., Deroualle sprayed this batch with a sodium solution to glaze the pieces a second time. The flame itself also puts a third glaze on the works and creates a unique effect. The fire acts as a collaborator and can be unpredictable, sometimes surprising artists with its effect by the time they unload the kiln, in this case five days after the loading process.

“The wood flame goes around the piece and makes patterns as it licks each piece, carrying ash from the burning wood,” she explained. “Those ashes start depositing on the pots at high temperature and give it another glaze. That’s the beauty of wood-firing.”


Circus Burlesque promises a unique burlesque show experience

Glenwood is in for a fun, sexy and hilarious good time when Circus Burlesque, featuring Western Slope Burlesque saunters onto the Vaudeville Revue Theater stage for a rousing good time tonight.

The ages 21-and-up show will include the best traditional parts of a burlesque show — the glitter, sass and sensual dancing — while adding its own special touches.

The circus theme ensures that even those who’ve experienced a burlesque show before will find this show unique — with its emcee, circus music and a variety of circus/side show acts including a ringmaster with three “kitties” she is attempting to train, a bearded lady and a coin-operated “boy.”

Most of the performers will take the stage alone, and will be given the freedom to let their inner power shine by embodying their individuality and freedom of expression — in whatever form and character unfolds per show, according to the group’s website.

The show also will include some local people — called “stage kittens” —who help clear the stage after each act.

In all, the Vaudeville Revue Theater’s stage will hold a dozen burlesque performers from the Western Slope Burley Girls, who are based out of Montrose and perform what they call the Art of Tease.

“In burlesque, you do take clothes off, but it’s not taking them all off,” said Sara Doehrman, who is the show’s director. “We’ve had a performer who only takes one shoe off. But you can still make that sensual and funny. A lot of the acts are very comedic.”

Doehrman teaches a burlesque class in Montrose, and it is from that class that the show gets most of its performers. Burlesque, she said, is really about self-empowerment, expression and bringing community together.

“It’s more of a journey of girls from all different backgrounds coming to do this. And whether it’s to let loose or build self-confidence, we all come together for the same thing.

“It’s very empowering to be able to stand up in front of a group of people and say ‘this is who I am.’”


Thunder River Theatre Co. is creating new bridges with last production of the season

When Thunder River Theatre Co. executive artistic director Corey Simpson selected “Tribes” as their final production for the season, he had no idea how much it would change him.

“I have to admit, I didn’t take all of the intricacies of this piece into account when I selected it,” said Simpson, who is directing the production. “In part, that was based on me not having experience with the deaf or hard-of-hearing community before.”

Written by playwright Nina Raine, “Tribes” tells the story of a Jewish family of five — a mom, dad and three children.

The play follows the family as they assimilate the youngest child Billy, who is deaf, into the hearing culture as much as possible.

When she meets a young love interest who is going deaf with two deaf parents and they proceed to teach Billy to sign, the universe opens up to her.

“I fell in love with the piece. It is a beautiful, funny, incredible and heartfelt piece, with a lot of things about it that I was looking for in filling the season,” Simpson said.

For Simpson, the research for this project was really interesting. He searched for deaf theaters in Colorado and located an artistic director in Denver.

“I picked up my phone, and I was halfway through dialing it when I realized I was calling someone who is deaf, and had no idea how that process would work,” Simpson said.

“It was not even part of my reality until then. That was the first experience I had where I knew all of us working on this piece were about to have a really eye-opening experience.”

One thing Simpson realized quickly was the lack of resources on the Western Slope.

He learned that the Aspen Deaf Camp had recently closed, and many of the employees had moved because of the lack of resources.

Through his research, Simpson was able to make contact with Michelle Mary Schaefer, a deaf actor from Austin, Texas, who is playing Billy.

Simpson said he has been in awe of her ability.

“When I first met her, we had never spoken face to face or even on the phone before,” he said. “It had all been over email and texting. I was really nervous when she showed up, because I had no idea what the process was going to be like directing someone who can’t hear me.

“My universe has been completely blown open by working on this piece, and also by working with one of our actors who is deaf,” Simpson said.

“Michelle has just been amazing to work with. She can speak, is fluent in lip reading and sign language, and at the same time some of us in the cast and crew have really worked to learn as much sign as we can.”

Simpson said it has been a lot of fun and created a lot of hilarious moments between the casts, with a lot of laughter in the process.

“This is an incredibly powerful piece, and we have experienced that every night in rehearsal because the actor playing the main character is deaf. What the audience is going to experience is a situation that most of us don’t experience every day,” Simpson said.

Simpson said seeing someone portray this role who has lived through so much of what this character experiences really takes the play to different level and adds another layer of reality and strength to the message.

The cast of six also includes guest actor and former valley resident Brittany Dye, who now lives in New York City, and talented locals William Bledsoe, Meredith Nelson-Daniel, Suzanne Brady and Dana Gaubatz.

After five weeks of rehearsal, “Tribes” takes the stage tonight at 7:30 at Thunder River Theatre Co. in Carbondale.

Thunder River Theatre Co. will be bringing in two ASL-certified interpreters for the final two shows at 7:30 p.m. June 28 and 29.

“I have been changed by this process, I have learned some sign, I’ve made some lifelong friends that I would have never connected with before, and since I started here at TRTC, I have really aspired along with the board, staff and actors to continue to open our doors more to the community. And this kind of play is really about creating new bridges between people that might not otherwise connect,” Simpson said.

“In some ways this play I think is expressing what we’re passionate about trying to do with theater, and sometimes it’s easy for those of us in the arts to forget that art really does have power and really can impact people in ways that change them and I think this play is going to be a great reminder to us about how much theater can do in the world.”


Colorado Mountain College professional photography students showcase work at ArtShare Gallery

It’s not every day a college student receives the honor or opportunity of displaying their own work in a public gallery.

According to Derek Johnston, photography professor and director of the Colorado Mountain College Professional Photography program, “Our students enjoy this real-world experience that goes beyond what they’re taught in the classroom.”

More than a dozen Colorado Mountain College professional photography students are taking part in the annual student show, which opened earlier this week.

The show provides students the experience of exhibiting their work in a public gallery and sharing and discussing their work with others.

“It’s an incredible opportunity. Not a lot of people have access to high-quality printing, paper use and gallery-style exhibition. For a lot of us, it is the first time our work has been printed big and shown to the public,” second-year professional photography student Dustin Gregory said.

“I think it was a very valuable experience to go through the proofing and printing process, to understand what really goes into that. Just to have your work seen and to cross that item off the career list, it’s been a pretty incredible and awesome rewarding experience.”

CMC ArtShare will host an opening reception for “Current Works: Students of the Colorado Mountain College Professional Photography Program” at the CMC ArtShare Gallery 6 to 8 p.m. tonight in Glenwood Springs

“I think it is outstanding. It’s an awesome opportunity at a young age to be able to display my work,” second-year professional photography student Murphy McCoy said.

Students will be on hand to talk about their photography with members of the community during the opening reception at the gallery located on the second floor of Morgridge Commons.


Gregory, who moved to Colorado in 2011 from Norwich, Vermont, fell for photography soon after arriving.

“Through my exploration of the West, as I was living in the Vail area, sort of fell in love with photography and digital media,” Gregory said.

After researching online for photography programs, Gregory said he came across the CMC program, which was essentially right in his backyard.

“Next thing you know, I was a 30-year-old college graduate going back to school for photography and media,” Gregory added.

A quick search online helped Murphy McCoy find the program, as well.

Originally from Parker, McCoy said she fell for photography early on.

“I took my first photography class in high school, and I had a great teacher at the time. I really like graphic design as well,” McCoy said.

“When I visited the school, the equipment and the faculty were outstanding. That’s what drew me here.”

Both Gregory and Murphy describe the CMC professional photography program as challenging and rewarding personally and professionally.

“It’s not the traditional workload of an undergraduate bachelor program, where it is a lot of papers, lot of tests. There are still written assignments and there are still tests just to conform into the Western educational system. Most of the work is hands-on shooting, processing, building, creating media and imagery,” Gregory said.

“You get out of it what you’re willing to put in.”

For McCoy, who started who first began the program two years ago, she left the program briefly to pursue art at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

“I thought I wanted to pursue art and 3-D mediums, and I realized I was not as excited about it as I was about photography,” McCoy said.

McCoy said she missed the structure of CMC.

“My expectation were higher and they didn’t have the same expectation, I felt like I was neglecting my opportunities and chances to learn,” she added. “I missed the environment that I had at Colorado Mountain College, so I came back to finish my degree here.”

McCoy is happy to be back in the valley and excited for the show and looking forward to showing off her work.

“I love this school, it’s really challenging, but I enjoy that I’m placed in a real-world situation almost every day in class,” McCoy added.

“There’s no slack, they have high expectations for you, so you can always achieve more. There are real deadlines with real professional standards and as soon as you set the bar higher for yourself, they never let you go back.”

The exhibit is free, runs through April 25 and is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


VOICES Project opens original theater project in Carbondale

For a third year in a row, the VOICES Project has joined together with students from Carbondale and Basalt to create an original theater project to be showcased this weekend.

“We feel that when you bring a diverse group of kids together, a diverse group of teaching artists, and you have different art forms available for self expression, really exciting things happen,” VOICES Executive Artistic Director Renee Prince said.

Adds teaching artist Ryan Prince, “I think the name of the nonprofit really speaks to the mission, providing everyone voices — giving individuals, young or old, the ability to come together in a group and have a safe place to share each others’ voices and feelings.

“We started with the mission to amplify voices through the arts. That includes all art forms.”

With five weeks from the first meeting to the final curtain, 20 high schoolers have been writing scenes and poetry, building puppets, choreographing movement, and composing songs in preparation for the project.

According to the show’s director, Cassidy Willey, “It can be a challenge. It’s exciting to watch students show up for each other through this process — to give them opportunity to create their own words, movement and songs on stage.”

In addition to Willey and Ryan Prince, the team of local teaching artists includes Gabriela Alvarez Espinoza, Vanessa Porras and Madison Coia.

The teaching artists have led the students through workshops to pick a theme and craft an original show.

“Getting together with the students and the teaching artists and just working up the bravery to build something that doesn’t exist, and then putting it out there is really challenging and rewarding to me,” Ryan Prince added.

Renee Prince says it’s a nice counter point to all the screen time that is in the world now.

This year’s project, titled “Void of Darkness, Eat the Light,” explores the transition from childhood to adolescence.

“There is something about this project that we find truly does connect young people. It just really builds their confidence, and their compassion for one another,” Renee added.

“If we can help a kid out of isolation, that is the most important thing we can be doing.”

Students participating in the project cover the gamut of emotions.

First-year participant Tyler Gruel said he found the project freeing and inspiring when he attended a performance last year.

“I think it takes anybody in who feels any kind of connection to it, and lets them say how they feel about. For example, we got to look more into ourselves, and put pieces of ourselves into the project and culminate it into a whole for all of us. It was really cool to see it happen,” Gruel added. “It really opened the door to expression for me, too.”

Said student participant Bianca Godina, “For me all three years of it have been a way to express myself and a way to grow in both my performing and writing.”

“The first year Renee came into the library, she basically told us we were building a play out of nothing, and I was interested,” Godina said. “I showed up that first practice, and that’s how we began the process.”

“It’s been a place to center myself and come back to what I want to do in my writing.”

Second-year participant Daniela Rivera says she was super nervous her first year, but those nerves have settled a bit this year.

“All the stories that we present, we are so vulnerable with ourselves … “99.9 percent of the time the pieces are true, so they are intense, which makes it scary.” Rivera said.

Added Renee Prince, “It’s a group of very brave students, who haven’t found an artistic home in other after school opportunities.

“Our motto is leap and build your wings in the air” — inspired by Ray Bradbury’s famous quote.

“We changed it to be a little more like flying and a little less like falling,” she added.

“The idea is you just have to commit to this process and trust that we are talented, collaborative, strong and brave enough to actually get it done. “When you find yourself flying, you realize how truly powerful you are, and how truly powerful creativity is.”

The curtain will raise for the cast and crew 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Third Street Center in Carbondale for the first of three shows.


Carbondale Clay Center hosts new show by Annette and Andrew Roberts-Gray

Visitors to Carbondale Clay Center will travel through time, as local artists Annette and Andrew Roberts-Gray open their latest collaborative show.

“We are really excited and honored to host this collaborative exhibit by Andrew and Annette Roberts-Gray. The work in this show spans a variety of mediums, including clay, to present a unique and atypical exhibition for the Carbondale Clay Center,” Clay Center Executive Director Angela Bruno said.

The center will officially open the show with a reception from 6-8 p.m. Friday.

The show uses the 1968 pop song “In the Year 2525,” by Zager and Evans, as the theme for presented works in ceramic and painting mediums.

“It was a number one hit, it has a sort of a dystopian, future-like theme to it,” artist Andrew Roberts-Gray said.

Both artists have taught at the Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, and have extensively exhibited their work throughout the valley and beyond.

The narrative elements of the songs are used as suggestions for visual tone, imagery and context for paintings, sculpture and mixed-media work.

“I think people will be really excited from our generations who remember the song,” he added.

The show represents the second collaboration between the couple that have lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since the early 1990s.

“Most of the collaborative work in the show are paintings. We’ve worked together on paper,” Robert-Gray said. “It’s a blend of traditional landscapes and science fiction — what the future may hold technologically.”

The event will include entertainment with Carbondale’s own “Let them Roar” playing live.

The center will also offer refreshments at the reception.

The exhibition will run through Jan. 25 at the Carbondale Clay Center, located at 135 Main St.

“I think people will find that the imagery is very accessible,” he said.

“The ideas are ones that they are familiar with, just presented in a way that will surprise them.”

Dillon Ice Castles to open Friday, Dec. 21

The Dillon Ice Castles will officially open for visits on Friday, Dec. 21. Utah-based Ice Castles, LLC said the popular ice architecture and sculpture attraction is opening a full week earlier than usual.

Dillon is one of six cities across North America to feature the Ice Castles. The Dillon location is the first of the company’s six locations to open for the season due to an early start to construction and a bountiful early winter in Summit.

“We are excited to able to open before Christmas this season,” said Ice Castles CEO Ryan Davis. “Kids will get out of school for the winter break and families will be spending time together. Ice Castles gives people one more way to make incredible winter memories over the holidays.”

The attraction features ice-carved tunnels, fountains, slides, frozen thrones, and cascading towers of ice embedded with color-changing LED lights that twinkle to music at night.

Artisans have spent the last five weeks growing, harvesting, and hand-placing icicles to create the life-size winter playground which brings tens of thousands of people to Dillon each season. The frozen creation in Dillon is made up of 25 million pounds of ice.

The company has other locations in Midway, Utah; Stillwater, Minnesota; North Woodstock, New Hampshire; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; and Edmonton, Alberta.

Meet Glenwood Springs’ chosen North Landing artist, Madeline Wiener

When Colorado artist Madeline Wiener discovered what she calls “the Stone” up in Marble, her life changed forever.

Now, “the transplant from back East” gets the once-in-lifetime opportunity to plant a piece of her own life’s work in the city formerly known as Defiance.

“I have dedicated my career to creating sculpture for public places — sculpture that is intended to be touched, interacted with, functional — and I came to designing a series of works that I call, ‘Bench People,’” the stone carver who splits her time between Boulder and Marble said in a recent phone interview.

Wiener’s work, which lives in places as near as Montrose and as abroad as Scotland, exhibits a bit of Defiance itself.

“I just felt like it was such a great opportunity to get people to touch the stone and feel the warmth, feel the coolness, feel textures — do all of those things that are taboo when a visitor goes to a museum or a gallery,” Wiener said.

Wiener’s next sculpture work will reside at the place where the former Grand Avenue Bridge once touched down, the city-owned North Landing site.

Thanks to a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant awarded to Glenwood Springs earlier this year, Wiener was selected as the desired artist to create a sculpture for the open space. And now, the community not only gets the opportunity to meet the artist herself, but additionally give input on her future work at two public art charrettes, taking place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Monday and again Dec. 5 at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

“Coming home and doing it right in my own backyard, this is more than an honor,” Wiener emphasized. “I could not have dreamed that I would have been the one selected for this particular project.

“Whatever it is that I will be doing, I will be doing it out of a block of Colorado yule marble, which comes from the quarries just round the bend in Marble, Colorado.”

Before sculpting that block of Colorado yule marble, Wiener wants to meet and hear from the community where it will live, for further inspiration.

“I do not know what I am doing yet, and that is where the community gets involved,” Wiener said.

Carving the fine line of gauging what the public wants versus what the sculptor may desire seems like a monumental challenge, especially for an artist. However, Wiener seems an exception to the rule.

“Right off the bat, they will know that I am a stone carver, and they will be acquainted with my work because there will be visuals put up around the room, and they will see other sculptures that have been created in this genre, in this style of my Bench People,” Wiener said of her message to those offering input.

“They will get to know me, but I will also get to know them, and that way I can be thinking about what they might like to see out there,” she said.

Although Wiener’s Bench People sit all over the world, the stone carver stresses the importance of giving each piece that she does its own sense of identity that reflects the world it lives in specifically.

“That is where the people will come in. Do they want to see a child? Do they want to see two children? … I cannot give this away, but I want to do something that leaves an impressionable size and can be seen from a distance,” Wiener added.

“Do they want me to go Native American? There is a huge Hispanic community, so, do they want me to stay in that genre or that culture? I will listen to them.”