Art, Opening: Four in-person and virtual exhibitions debut this weekend at Aspen area galleries
With a mix of walk-in and virtual experiences, Aspen area galleries are showcasing new artwork this weekend.
The time-honored summer tradition of evening gallery-hopping, with crowds and wine and passed appetizers, is unlikely to return to the Aspen art scene during the novel coronavirus pandemic. But if you want to see new art and curated exhibitions, local galleries are hanging and selling art both online and in-person.
These four new shows opening on Friday are worth a visit, whether digital or in real life.
THE GONZO GALLERY
The itinerant Gonzo Gallery is back for a 2020 edition. The gallery, which has staged shows in at least six different locations over the past eight years, is planning a 20-exhibition, 20-week run of “flash shows” at 601 E. Hyman Ave. adjacent to the Aspen Art Museum in the gallery space operated by Richard Carter last summer.
This weekend, gallerist D.J. Watkins said, the Gonzo will be open to walk-ins with social distancing measures in place and masks required. It will be a “soft opening,” as installation may still be in progress Friday, Watkins said.
Over the years, the Gonzo has galvanized a young and creative community in Aspen with exhibitions of works by activist artists like Tom Benton and Ralph Steadman and a 2015 show of posters, photos and ephemera from Hunter Thompson’s 1970 campaign for Pitkin County sheriff that has since toured museums across the U.S.
The 20 shows Watkins is putting together will come from his holdings of roughly 500 artworks, with a new exhibition opening every Friday. They begin this weekend with a collection of Benton’s works based on literary quotes (June 5) followed by exhibitions focused on William S. Burroughs (June 12), historical Aspen art (June 19) and erotic art through the ages (June 26) while Watkins is planning shows with working Aspen artists like Ajax Axe and Jonathan Gold.
Behind a curtain in the rear of the gallery, open to visitors, Watkins and curator/archivist Yuri Zupancic will be cataloging his entire art collection over the coming months.
In keeping with public health advisories, Watkins is hoping to host distanced political action events and happenings like the ones that have become a signature of his galleries over the years, perhaps utilizing street space in a “Sidewalk Salon” series.
The Skye Gallery is exhibiting “Falling Flat,” a group show curated by Denver artist Max Kauffman.
It features work by Kauffman, Andrew Hoffman, Bunnie Reiss, Doug Spencer and Michael Strescino. All five are showing paintings that blur the line between abstraction and depiction, capturing, as the exhibition announcement puts it “far off landscapes, dissonant fields and ghosts of vintage signage … reduced to their core elements.”
Reiss’s works — their intricate patterned illustration style will be familiar to anyone who has seen her massive elk mural in Carbondale — are made on vintage paper, vintage books and, in a piece that takes on new meaning in the ongoing pandemic, antique gloves. Spencer’s uncanny nine-piece “No Harmony” series create seemingly floating cloud-like forms made of solid gold leaf and smoke over pink acrylic backgrounds.
A virtual opening — the gallery’s first – had also been slated for Friday, with artist talks and online events scheduled. But it’s been postponed as the gallery instead aims to use its online presence to support the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests taking to the streets locally and nationally.
The gallery has plastered its prominent windows on the corner of Cooper Ave. and Hunter Streets with posters supporting the movement. On Friday, in lieu of the online opening, it will host poster-making stations for socially distanced visitors to create for Saturday’s Black Lives Matter march in Aspen.
“Falling Flat” will be on view through Aug. 3.
THE ART BASE
The Art Base in Basalt is opening its second virtual exhibition on Friday, hosting works by Aspen-based artist Barbara Conviser.
The online show includes an artist talk with Conviser and Art Base curator Lissa Ballinger.
Conviser’s charcoal and pastel landscape drawings offer a visual diary of places the artist has seen and been moved by over the past six decades, most based on photos she’s snapped. They invite quiet contemplation and evoke a solitude fitting of our post-quarantine moment.
“It is a strange set of circumstances that suit my isolating personality,” Conviser said in her art talk.
The virtual exhibition will be online at theartbase.org through July 23. The Art Base is also now open for scheduled gallery visits (call 970-927-4123).
The R2 Gallery in Carbondale will open to the public on Friday, June 5, with an exhibition of new work by Carbondale ceramicist Matthew Eames and Boulder painter Alissa Davies.
Eames’ “Forever Until Tomorrow” sculptures are recognizable as homes and structures, but with incomplete connections and broken or slouching elements.
“My work is a reminder of the lack of permanence that exists within our constructed realities,” Eames said.
Davie’s spontaneously created “Angel Places” are depictions of landscapes and locales with personal meaning to the artist, but abstracted by memory and enhanced by imagination.
Located in The Launchpad, the gallery has been closed since mid-March when the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold. It is open to as many as eight visitors at a time, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Works are also available for viewing and purchase online at carbondalearts.com.