Justice Snow’s performance series moving to Wheeler Opera House
Three signature performance series developed at Justice Snow’s Bar and Restaurant are moving upstairs to the lobby bar in the Wheeler Opera House this summer.
Justice Snow’s has grown an eclectic and unique series of events over the past five years, showcasing local, regional and national musicians, writers and artists in its Salon, Writ Large and the Poetry Brothel happenings. This summer, they’ll all be folded into the Wheeler’s new Sunset Series.
“Justice Snow’s had to draw down a large measure of our programming,” owner Michele Kiley said, “because we couldn’t afford to hold the space, suspend operations and also pay for it.”
As Justice Snow’s decided to cut the events, the Wheeler announced the new mixed-genre Sunset Series, which launches Friday night. Alya Howe, a performance artist who curated the series for Justice Snow’s, reached out to Wheeler executive director Gena Buhler to see if Writ Large, The Salon and the Poetry Brothel might have a home there.
“I said, ‘Do you want to umbrella the series?’ and she immediately said, ‘Yes,’” Howe recalled.
The hip events have brought a funky, avant-garde element to the Aspen entertainment scene over the past five years at Justice Snow’s, with creative concepts like selling poems to audience members at the Poetry Brothels, harnessing the storytelling talents of locals and students at Writ Large, and showcasing some unusual pairings — a Salon event last fall included live poetry, psychic readings and a virtual reality-enhanced dance party.
Howe praised Kiley and Justice Snow’s for supporting the series.
“Kiley had underwritten the whole series for five years and her pockets just had a bottom to them,” Howe said. “Her role has been a massive commitment to the arts.”
Justice Snow’s does have live music scheduled two nights per week in June and into the summer, and on select Sundays during brunch. The seasonal Americana Music Series has become a signature seasonal event for the bar. But the future of live music at Justice Snow’s also is uncertain, according to Kiley.
“We’re still doing live music, but even that is on the chopping block if people can’t come out and support it,” she explained.
The Salons, running regularly since soon after Justice Snow’s opened in 2012, are modeled after a similar program founded in Philadelphia by Aspen Music School alumna Andrea Clearfield to recreate 19th-century European salons. Curated by Howe and Clearfield, a given evening at one of the Salon events might include classical and world music, spoken word, dance and multimedia artwork.
Writ Large, a storytelling series inspired by the popular radio program “The Moth,” was launched in January 2015 in partnership with the Isaacson School for New Media at Colorado Mountain College. It brings together students and locals to tell personal stories they’ve memorized. Howe describes it as an antidote to the often clipped, impersonal human interactions of the texting and social media age.
The first events at the Wheeler will be a Salon on June 18, a Writ Large on July 3 and a Poetry Brothel on Aug. 4. A fifth anniversary celebration of the Salon also is in the works for September.
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The Virtual Aspen Music Festival’s Sunday concerts have been going from strength to strength in a year without audiences in the seats.