Skye Goes Blamo
Artist Spencer Hansen takes over Skye Gallery
Aspen has gotten to know artist Spencer Hansen and his furry friends over the past three years at the Skye Gallery downtown.
Hansen, based in Bali, has mounted regular shows in the gallery sharing various iterations of his creatures made from forms like bendable wire, foam and beads, recycled boat wood, metal, ceramics, bone and leather.
The shows have become a signature for the independent local gallery and have been consistently fascinating and fun, without any of the stuffy or intimidating baggage that so often comes with contemporary art. He encourages patrons to touch and literally titled one exhibition “Please Play.”
“I hope it inspires us to play with the creatures,” he said at a 2019. “I don’t want a static environment. … I’ve been making creatures as long as I can remember. I think of them all as sort of cousins from a different planet.”
The gallery also partnered with Hansen for its splashy debut at Art Basel Miami in 2019, where the gallery presented a creature-based exhibition at Aqua Art Miami.
So around here we know Spencer Hansen the fine artist. Which, some may be surprised to learn, isn’t how many people around the world know him.
Hansen is co-founder of Blamo, a sort of magic-factory that makes popular toys (their playful, huggable aesthetic in concert with the fine art sculptures), cloting and apparel, object art and what Hansen calls “adventurewear” (onesies, play clothes, sporting gear). He started it with business partner Shayne Maratea, who was unpacking boxes and installing the Blamo takeover at Skye last week.
Through Jan. 8, Skye Gallery is transforming into a Blamo boutique, with an eclectic selection of Hansen’s commercial pieces, including hats and leather goods that use the same unique leather-molding process Hansen uses for his sculptures. There are boots and duster jackets. There are playful masks and sarongs. There’s beachy gear fit for Bali, where Hansen lives, and more rugged apparel born for his native Idaho. There’s even – a natural fit for Aspen – his unique spin on a ski suit.
And the toys are the kinds of things one might imagine coming from Santa’s elves, weird and unique and charming furry things as well as figurines in Blamo’s “Slap” series, featuring a squat little character of carved wood with an over-sized hand outstretched and looking to slap five.
The retail-centric show is a new endeavor for the gallery (yet one more example of how COVID-19 rewrote the rules of everything this year) and aimed at the holiday shopping season in Aspen. But the gallery will get back to fine art in a few weeks. In the New Year, Hansen is due to return to Aspen to close the Blamo set-up and to open “New Friends,” an exhibition of new sculptures and his fourth show at Skye. It opens Jan. 9.
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