Jewish Community Center is new player in Aspen art scene |

Jewish Community Center is new player in Aspen art scene

The Aspen Jewish Community Center Gallery hosted its first art opening in December. Its second exhibition, by Nebraska painter Paula Wallace, opens Tuesday night.
Aspen Times file |

If You Go …

What: Paula Wallace art opening

Where: Aspen Jewish Community Center Gallery, 435 W. Main St.

When: Tuesday, Feb. 3, 6-8 p.m.

More info:

Aspen’s new Jewish Community Center is aiming to become a creative hub for local and merging artists as well as its Chabad congregation.

The art gallery in the Main Street center hosts its second opening Tuesday.

Gallery director Suzanne Horwich said she hoped the gallery brings locals and visitors of all faiths into the new center, which opened last summer.

“It’s a Jewish center but it’s not strictly for Jewish people,” Horwich said. “So the idea is outreach through the arts, to engage the community and bring in lots of different work from out-of-state artists and to support local artists.”

In some ways, the upstart nonprofit gallery’s mission mirrors what the Aspen Chapel Gallery has succeeded in doing over the last 30 years, becoming a desirable place to show work for local artists, and a secular hub of the local community with spirited, well-attended openings – all in a place of worship.

Horwich, a painter herself and a Nebraska native, had her work included in a group show at Aspen Chapel when she moved to the valley with her family five years ago.

Horwich worked as a painter while living in Jerusalem, then Istanbul and Scotland – showing her work in the Middle East, Europe and in the U.S. After her mentor in Europe died of suicide, she launched Barn Girl Art, a mentoring service for aspiring artists.

“I find a lot of artists are talented but full of self-doubt by nature,” she said.

Through Barn Girl Art, she began staging shows at the Jewish Community Center in Omaha and helped transform it into a viable gallery with high caliber shows from local and world artists. Last year, she approached the Chabad Jewish Community Center’s co-director, Rabbi Mendel Mintz, about hosting a similar program of art at the new building on Main Street in Aspen.

“I said, ‘Let’s start engaging people through art and bringing people in the doors and letting them know, no, it’s not just a Jewish center,’” she explained.

The gallery had its first opening in December: a photography exhibition by Meghan Brosnan. The new show, by Nebraska painter Paula Wallace, is titled “What Was I Thinking?” and will run through April 12. Wallace’s paintings use a lush saturation of color for scenes ranging from stark and powerful portraits to rich landscapes and whimsical scenes of mice and other creatures.

Horwich is aiming to hang two additional shows this summer, then evaluate whether to expand into more frequent exhibitions. For now, she wants to focus on solo shows by emerging artists from the valley and beyond.

“To give an emerging artist a solo show is an excellent personal challenge for them and a boost of their confidence,” she said. “I’m hoping to encourage local artists to produce new bodies of work.”

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