A 25-foot paper airplane and artist Griffin Loop’s ‘Launch Intention’ project in Aspen
IF YOU GO …
What: Griffin Loop’s ‘Launch Intention’
Where: Red Brick Center lawn; Skye Gallery Aspen
When: Red Brick through winter; Skye Gallery through Dec. 15
More info: launchintention.com
Griffin Loop had never been to Aspen when he loaded a 25-foot steel sculpture of a paper airplane onto a flatbed truck and road-tripped here from Southern California in summer 2019 with the intention of installing it somewhere in the mountain town.
He’s been back several times since then, when his “Launch Intention” sculpture was installed in Paepcke Park on Main Street.
This fall he installed another of the large-scale planes on the lawn of the Red Brick Center for the Arts as part of its “Resilience” group exhibition, its first following an extended COVID-19 closure. Now the Red Brick installation has moved across the lawn to a prime spot where North Aspen street meets the Red Brick plaza, and he’s showing a series of smaller “Launch Intention” sculptures downtown at Skye Gallery Aspen through December.
The Aspen projects – inspired by a chance meeting with local Tim Sack in Los Angeles, who encouraged Loop to bring “Launch Intention” here – have been charmed in a way: Loop got a quick permit last summer to install in Paepcke Park, was embraced by the art community and wider community here (yoga classes practiced around the sculpture), which led to the Red Brick show, which then led to the longer-term installation and Skye show.
“It’s been great being here,” he said. “The support for the arts is amazing and the people are amazing.”
He makes the massive plane sculptures on his own, rather than farming them out to fabricators. Such undertakings – and ski towns – are in his blood. Loop’s father was an independent ski lift designer and installer based in Lake Tahoe and later Oregon, traveling the U.S. with his son and devising better and more creative ways to carry skiers up mountains.
“At a young age I learned to manipulate large objects, to move things and to work with metal,” he said.
The work is based around the easily recognizable shape of the paper airplane, that symbol of adolescent goofing off and playful creativity. Loop’s project infuses it with some weightier purpose.
“It’s a platform for people to set intention, share it and launch it into action, activated around large-scale sculptures of paper airplanes,” he explained.
Normally Loop’s “Launch Intention” installations are complemented by community activations where people meet and write down intentions on paper, fold them into planes, then launch them. This year during the pandemic when such gatherings are restricted, Loop has taken the project virtual. Viewers can scan a QR code at the Red Brick and Skye Gallery, or go to launchintention.com to take part.
The online initiative, Loop hopes, might actually keep people more engaged with one another through this trying and distanced pandemic moment in the U.S.
“With everything going digital, I’m creating a system online to support each other in those intentions, hold each other accountable and connect with each other,” he said.
He’s made some planes twice as big as the 25-footer in Aspen. He installed his first in Utah a few years back. When he met a group of about 30 schoolchildren to discuss the piece, he said, it was a life-changing experience.
“Originally I was just going to talk to the kids and explain the sculpture itself,” he said, “but then I started talking about intention and turned it over to them to say an intention of their own.”
The kids talked about surprisingly spiritual goals, Loop recalled, with intentions like “I want to be brave,” “I want to use my voice” and “I want to listen.”
“What they shared was one of the most profound things I’ve ever experienced,” Loop said.
The experience reshaped his artistic life.
Since then he has built and installed his planes with the express goal of engaging communities and encouraging people to proclaim and manifest their own personal intentions.
“I’m fascinated by using art as a platform to engage people within themselves and within your community,” he said. “There are so many barriers to following our dreams and this is one way over them.”
Loop hopes to continue his public engagement with Aspen. He is now eyeing more public art initiatives in town and perhaps growing the local “Launch Intention” beyond spring 2021.
“Pubic art can redefine everyday experience and expectation,” he said. “I’m hoping to further push some public art initiatives in Aspen.”
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The state transportation department’s $2.6 million plan to rebuild the roundabout west of Aspen next summer and fall appears to be moving along on schedule based on two votes in the Upper Roaring Fork Valley last week.