Aspen Times Weekly: Most Anticipated Summer Arts Events, 2016

by Andrew Travers
Stevie Wonder will headline the JAS Labor Day Experinece on Sept. 4.
Courtesy photo |

A lot of summer getaway destinations have found a niche in the arts — Tanglewood for classical music, for instance, or Jacob’s Pillow for dance. But where else except Aspen could you, on any given summer day, see world-class contemporary art and have your pick between five full orchestras, watch a bleeding-edge ballet and hear from a prize-winning author, listen to an arena-filling band in a 400-capacity club and take in a Broadway-caliber musical in a riverside tent? It’s an embarrassment of artistic riches around here for the next three months. We’ve tried to whittle down the overwhelming slate of options by identifying our 60-some “most anticipated” events on the way.

Most Anticipated: Art

Enrique Martinez Celaya

at Baldwin Gallery and Anderson Ranch

JUNE 23, Baldwin Gallery

JUNE 30, Anderson Ranch talk

JULY 2, Anderson Ranch workshop

It’d be fair to call Celaya an honorary Snowmass Villager at this point. The Los Angeles-based artist has been visiting Anderson Ranch for more than a decade and last year published the luminous “On Art an Mindfulness: Notes From Anderson Ranch.” He’ll be back on the ranch for two weeks in mid-summer this year, offering a lunch lecture June 30 and the public mini-workshop “Alternatives” on July 2. But first, he’s opening a new exhibition at Aspen’s Baldwin Gallery on June 23, showcasing a new body of work titled “Self and Land.” It runs through July 24.

And don’t forget: The groundbreaking Judith Scott retrospective “Bound and Unbound” runs through July 10 at the Aspen Art Museum … Four locally based art world heavyweights – Richard Carter, James Surls, Jody Guralnick and Chris Hassig – show drawings at the Art Base Annex June 10 through July 2 … Theaster Gates at Aspen Ideas Festival (June 26-July 2) … “The Revolution Will Not Be Gray” at the Aspen Art Museum (July 1-Oct. 16) … “About Town” with eight artists’ depictions of Aspen scenes at the Red Brick Center opening July 7 … Rock’n’roll photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s artist proofs at the Art Base (July 8-Aug. 6) … The jam-packed 50th anniversary events at Anderson Ranch, including an open studio session with Tom Sachs (July 18), a lecture by Fred Tomaselli and Tom Burckhardt (July 19) and a talk by Carrie Mae Weems (July 21) … Aspen Artist Award winner Gabriel Orozco exhibition at Aspen Art Museum (opening July 29) … the Red Brick’s PleinAir Festival (Aug. 7-14) … The WPA poster exhibit and workshop, “Posters for the People” at Explore Booksellers (Aug. 20).

Most Anticipated: Classical Music

Renée Fleming

at the Aspen Music Festival and School

JULY 2, Aspen Ideas Festival

JULY 3, with the Aspen Festival Orchestra at the Benedict Music Tent

JULY 5, master class at Harris Concert Hall

Before she conquered the music world, Fleming was honing her chops at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen Opera Theater Center productions of “Transformations” and “The Marriage of Figaro” in 1982 and 1983. Since then, of course, she’s won the National Medal of Arts and a Grammy, and given timeless performances at the Metropolitan Opera and the Super Bowl. She returns to Aspen in early July for the summer’s opening Sunday concert in the Benedict Music Tent, singing a selection of songs and arias with the Aspen Festival Orchestra.

And don’t forget: Violinist Midori at Harris Concert Hall (July 13) and with the Aspen Festival Orchestra at the Benedict Music Tent (July 17) … Puccini’s “La Boheme” at the Wheeler Opera House (July 14, 16 and 18) … The Robert Altman opera adaptation “A Wedding” (July 28 and 30) … Violinist Joshua Bell with the Aspen Chamber Symphony at Benedict Music Tent (July 15) … The 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Emerson String Quartet at Harris Concert Hall (July 19) … Violinist Sarah Chang at Harris Concert Hall (July 28) … Pianist Jonathan Biss at Harris Concert Hall (Aug. 2, 16 and 17) … Pianist Yefim Bronfman with the Aspen Festival Orchestra at the Benedict Music Tent (Aug. 14).

Most Anticipated: Dance

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s “Sleepless”

at the Aspen District Theatre

AUG. 16 & 27

The statuesque ballerina Samantha Klanac Campanile is retiring at the end of the summer, after 15 years with the company, and these will mark her final performances with the acclaimed contemporary dance company. Aspen Santa Fe is celebrating its 20th anniversary this season, and taking on master choreographer Jiri Kylian’s “Sleepless” in its final two local performances of the summer. The 2004 piece is paired with two memorable, recently commissioned Aspen Santa Fe works by Alejandro Cerrudo (who danced in the premiere of “Sleepless” at Nederlands Dans Theater) and Caytetano Soto.

And don’t forget: Soulskin Dance at Aspen Fringe Festival (June 10) and at the Aspen Art Museum (July 7) … Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, “Little mortal jump,” “Re:play,” “The Heart(s)pace” at Aspen District Theatre (July 8 and 24) … Juan Siddi Flamenco Santa Fe at Aspen District Theatre (July 21) … L.A. Dance Project at Aspen District Theatre (Aug. 4) … Paul Taylor Dance Company at Aspen District Theatre (Aug. 13).

Most Anticipated: Literary Events

Lucy Kalanithi & Ann Patchett

at Aspen Summer Words


As Dr. Paul Kalanithi faced a terminal cancer diagnosis, he began contemplating the meaning of life and he wrote the powerful, widely read and acclaimed memoir “When Breath Becomes Air,” published posthumously early this year. His widow, Lucy Kalanithi, will talk about her husband and his work with novelist Ann Patchett at Aspen Words’ Wine + Words benefit at the Hotel Jerome in what promises to be Aspen’s literary highlight of 2016.

And don’t forget: Maria Semple and Dean Bakopoulos talking about comedy and writing at Aspen Summer Words (Belly Up, June 20) …. Antonya Nelson and Divid Lipsky on the craft of writing at Summer Words (The Gant, June 21) … ‘The Storied History of Explore Booksellers” at Explore Booksellers (July 13) … New Views documentaries “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” (July 25) and “Author: The JT LeRoy Story” (Aug. 8) at Paepcke Auditorium.

Most Anticipated: Popular Music

Stevie Wonder

at JAS Labor Day Experience


Jazz Aspen Snowmass founder Jim Horowitz has compared booking the legendary Wonder to climbing Mount Everest and has called it a game-changer for the organization’s summer festivals. There’s no bigger show in Aspen this summer, and it’s one of just five performances that Wonder is giving around the world. Isn’t it lovely?

And don’t forget: Gregory Porter at JAS Café at the Aspen Art Museum (June 23) … Diana Ross at the JAS June Experience (June 24) … Thomas Jack at Belly Up (June 25) … Marcus Miller and Booker T at the JAS June Experience (June 26) … MGMT DJ set at Belly Up (June 26) … Baauer at Belly Up (June 30) … Steel Pulse at Wanderlust (June 30) … Smokey Robinson at the Benedict Music Tent (July 2) … Xavier Rudd and Son Little at Wanderlust (July 2) … Thievery Corporation at Belly Up (July 3-4) … Josh Ritter at Belly Up (July 13) … Leftover Cuties at Snowmass Summer Concert Series, Fanny Hill (July 14) … Buckethead at Belly Up (July 19) … Poncho Sanchez at the JAS Café at the Aspen Cooking School (July 22-23) … Miike Snow at Belly Up (Aug. 2) … Curtis Stigers at the JAS Café at the Aspen Art Museum (Aug. 13) … Christian McBride & Edgar Meyer at the JAS Café at the Aspen Art Museum (Aug. 20) … Zella Day at Belly Up (Aug. 30) … The Killers at the JAS Labor Day Experience (Sept. 3).

Most Anticipated: Theater

Theatre Aspen’s “Mama Mia”

at the Hurst Theatre in Rio Grande Park

JUNE 24-AUG. 20

Theatre Aspen has proven it can nail really big shows in its really small tent space with productions of epics like “Les Miserables.” So the ABBA-fueled crowd-pleaser “Mama Mia” is a promising choice as its centerpiece for summer 2016. With a cast of 20, a six-piece band and an intricate revolving set, this promises to be a big, juicy, poppy slice of summer escapism.

And don’t forget: Sharr White’s “Stupid Kid” at Aspen Fringe Festival (June 11 and 12) … “Rashomon” at Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale (June 17-July 2) … “Buyer & Cellar” at Theatre Aspen (July 7-Aug. 19) … “Dear Edwina” at Theatre Aspen (July 15-Aug. 13) … “As You Like It” at Hudson Reed Ensemble’s Shakespeare in the Park, Galena Plaza (Aug. 19-Sept. 4).

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