Art on America: The Aspen Art Museum’s America-themed Roaring Fork Open |

Art on America: The Aspen Art Museum’s America-themed Roaring Fork Open

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Susquehanna River

ASPEN – For its Roaring Fork Open 2012 exhibition, the Aspen Art Museum partnered with painter Eric Fischl’s America: Now and Here project, to create a themed show of visual art that addresses notions of present-day America. The unjuried exhibition, which opened Oct. 20, features contributions from 125 local artists.

The Aspen Times Weekly asked a handful of Roaring Fork residents associated with the visual arts to select one piece to speak about.

The Roaring Fork Open runs through Nov. 20.

Selected by artist Shelly Safir Marolt

The palette is so pleasing. That’s the palette I paint it. But that’s on the superficial level. Then you look inside the picture and it’s so happy – there’s elation, there’s depth, a real soul to this piece. The religion is part of it, but more than that, it’s how they feel about the religion. The woman raising her hand – you don’t need to see her face, but you know so much about how she feels.

There’s a sense of community and love. You feel support. There’s so much touch going on. There’s a lot of politically charged or negative things in America that’s focused on in the exhibition, because of what’s going on. You see such a positive image and you stop and say, There’s hope.

And you wonder, How did he capture that moment? It’s like he shouldn’t have been there.

Selected by artist and Aspen Art Museum co-founder Dick Carter

It’s a brave piece – she’s putting her dirty laundry out there. And it’s everybody’s dirty laundry; it’s what’s going on now. It’s very personal, simple – the flag rolled up with her notices – but it’s great. And brave – I don’t know that I’d want to put up my bank notices like that, enlarged like that. They should hang this in a bank.

I like that it’s not traditional medium – it’s homemade, constructed, and that makes it stand out. It’s edgy and well-done.

When Eric Fischl talked about not hitting you over the head with flags – maybe the real America is less obvious than that. I was thinking about more subtle things. So I’m surprised that this piece has such emotional appeal to me. You never know – that’s the cool thing about art.

Selected by Debra Muzikar, executive director, Red Brick Council for the Arts

So many pieces had such negative connotations to them. It’s hard not to be negative about what’s going on in the country and society today.

Cecilia’s piece, first, is very well-done. Resin is hard. Also, it’s that good type of feeling she conveys to me – the kitchen table, family – at a time when so many people are having hardship, and just thinking negative things, depression. This brought a good feeling, and people have to remember that, as many bad things are going on in our country, this is still a good place to live. We have to remember that.

I grew up in a close family, and I think this transports me back to my childhood. I can connect with it.

Selected by artist Mitzi Rapkin

As I walked through the museum with the daunting task of picking a piece that really spoke to me, the photograph entitled “Hope” elicited a pure visceral reaction in me. It represents such purity of youth, of the ideals of our still young country (when all political bickering is set aside) and the pageantry that exists when we are celebrating nothing more than our Freedom and Independence (with big F and big I) in the beginning of summer. The clarity of this picture makes me feel as if we’ve set aside the seemingly infinite number of worries that plague our citizens and reminds me of the greatness that lies in our country and the unadulterated bliss that can exist in the small moments that make up our lives.

Selected by Michelle Bryan, art consultant, Galerie Maximillian

The show shows that all these local, contemporary artists have concerns about the economy, the country, where we’re headed – and how the future is hanging in the balance. This piece stayed in my mind and spoke the loudest to me.

Visually, it’s not much. It’s an old scale, part of a scale, which carries symbolism, painted red, white and blue. And the scales of justice have long been the symbol of why people want to come to America, why we have the greatest country on Earth – because we have these balanced scales. To me, this piece speaks of the imbalance that’s currently evident, and I find that very powerful.

I also like art that has words in it. You can think of words as nothing but symbols.

With a piece of art, I don’t need to see a pretty picture on a wall, or have something spoon-fed to me. I want a piece that asks, Why did the artist choose this as their medium for expressing this idea?

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