Art in Bloom: Surveying an art scene reshuffled by the pandemic
This feature was originally published in the 2021 edition of “Summer in Aspen/Snowmass,” which is on newsstands now around the Roaring Fork Valley. It as well as other 2021 visitor guides are available anytime at http://www.aspentimes.com/magazines.
If you haven’t made the rounds in Aspen art galleries lately, you’ll find many new players and programs on the scene following an unexpected boom during the pandemic. Galleries were able to open quickly after the spring 2020 lockdown, providing sanctuary for people seeking solace or inspiration when most every other cultural hub was closed.
New galleries came to town, including a spate of international contemporary art tastemakers opening their first Aspen satellites. This summer, we’re toasting those galleries and beloved established ones as the social side of the local scene comes back to life with opening receptions, art talks and walk-throughs.
In June as capacity, distancing and mask mandates loosened, we had more festive openings at the Aspen Art Museum and celebrated locally based artists in-person at the Red Brick Center for the Arts and Aspen Chapel Gallery. Out in Snowmass Village, in-person workshops resumed at Anderson Ranch Arts Center and the hum of summer returned there with studios and kilns firing with creative energy.
For the first time since the pandemic struck, we had one of those big art nights in Aspen where the museum and several galleries open new shows, creating an informal art walk from the museum to the Gonzo Gallery (in its new location) to Marianne Boesky and Baldwin Gallery and Galerie Maximillian.
It’s a season of renewal, with much to look forward to this summer.
ASPEN ART MUSEUM & ANDERSON RANCH
The art event of the season is Precious Okoyomon’s rooftop installation at the Aspen Art Museum, an immersive multisensory environment of edible plants, music and sculpture. The artist was in residence at Anderson Ranch in May, preparing work for the museum show, which runs through summer 2022 and will include regular public events in the garden.
It opened June 10, along with several other shows in Aspen, just three days after in-person workshops launch at the Ranch, and unofficially beginning the post-vaccine season of rebirth.
Many are also having their first experiences with an astounding exhibition by painter Cy Gavin in the lower-level galleries, at the museum’s new bar, The Slippery Slope, and in its reimagined museum store — designed and stocked by the artist Jonathan Berger — which opened with little fanfare and no crowds during the winter.
In-person workshops are also returning to the museum, including a new kids program called Art in the Outdoors.
The resurrection of campus life at Anderson Ranch includes exhibitions in the Patton-Malott Gallery, Summer Series art talks, twice-weekly guest faculty lectures and a new monthly film series. But there won’t be a traditional public auction and picnic on the Ranch campus this year, though its new “Recognition Week” will bring fundraising events to campus along with what promise to be memorable free public events with the Guerrilla Girls.
NEW GALLERIES, ART FAIRS
Nobody would have predicted that a pandemic would be a boom time for contemporary art, but indeed gallerists reported sales rose as collectors new and old spent so much time at home staring at their walls since March 2020.
As a result, the Aspen gallery scene saw new pop-ups like the Honor Fraser and Galeria Mascota and new permanent players like Eden Gallery set up shop here alongside locally based newcomers like Axion Gallery. Those galleries, along with promising new additions like House of Hart, Pitkin Projects and Patrick Guyton Gallery who will finally welcome unrestricted crowds this summer.
More international galleries are opening outposts here, with exhibitions echoing the trendsetting contemporary lineups in Chelsea, Los Angeles and London. Among them are two spaces beside the Aspen Art Museum: Almine Rech, which already has galleries in New York, London, Paris and Shanghai; and Malin Gallery, which has its main hub in Manhattan. Down the street on Mill, the London-based White Cube is opening its first Aspen gallery after its recent off-site project in West Palm Beach.
A handful of stalwarts on the local scene are also making moves. Aspen Art Gallery moved around the corner from its Mill Street location to a prime Hyman Avenue storefront, and Fat City Gallery — a new rendition of the popular Gonzo Gallery — is open on Cooper Avenue.
On the art fair front, the annual Downtown Aspen Art Festival is due back for its 18th year on July 17-18, while the inaugural Snowmass Art Festival is set to run June 26-27. Also in Snowmass Village, the Collective is opening a new seasonal Artisan Market, running July 2 to Aug. 27.
A DOWNVALLEY ART BOOM
The move of the nonprofit The Art Base into its new headquarters on Midland Avenue in downtown Basalt promises the community art center can stage professional exhibitions worthy of the local and regional talent it seeks to foster.
The new Art Base is the centerpiece of a blooming midvalley art scene that — unlike Aspen’s increasingly international roster of artists and brand-name galleries — has locally and regionally based artists as its stars.
New commercial galleries are arriving this summer in Basalt and joining the established Keating Gallery and Ann Korologos on the scene (the historic Toklat Gallery, with seven decades of history, is gone — a victim of the pandemic). Most prominent among the newcomers is Gallery 101 on Midland Avenue, showcasing work by twin sister artists Ingrid Dee Magidson and Sybil Hill Carter.
Highlights of the summer art scene:
Through July 22: Red Brick Center group show
Through 2022: Precious Okoyomon, rooftop installation, Aspen Art Museum
Through Oct. 10: Cerith Wyn Evans, “Aspen Drift,” Aspen Art Museum
Through July 25: Simphiwe Mbunyuza, Marianne Boesky Gallery
Through July 25: Donald Baechler & George Still, Baldwin Gallery
July 2-30: Leah Potts, The Art Base
July 2-Aug. 27: Snowmass Collective Artisan Market
July 12-16: Recognition Week, Anderson Ranch
Aug. 3: Part 3 of “Correspondence” featuring Theaster Gates, White Cube
Aug. 4-6: ArtCrush, Aspen Art Museum
Aug. 5: Anders Johnson and Kristy Odelius, Red Brick
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Writer-director Bobby Kennedy III’s long-in-the-works movie based on Hunter Thompson’s 1970 campaign for Pitkin County sheriff is being released in few U.S. theaters Friday. The closest to Aspen is Movieland in El Jebel.