ArtCrush raises $3 million-plus for Aspen Art Museum

Staff report
Aspen Art Museum director Nicola Lees presents Mary Weatherford with the Aspen Award for Art at the ArtCrush gala on Aug. 6. Courtesy Aspen Art Museum

The Aspen Art Museum’s ArtCrush auctions raised close to $4 million for the institution, according to a release sent Thursday.

The tally set a record total for the annual fundraising event and gala, which had been canceled in 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the three years before the pandemic, ArtCrush had raised between $2.3 and $2.8 million annually.

This year’s auctions included a combination of online silent auction of more than 40 artworks and live auction bidding at the gala on 10 selected works, all of which also were on exhibition at the museum during the weeks leading up to the Aug. 6 ArtCrush gala at Buttermilk Ski Area.

“This past week, culminating in our incredible ArtCrush Gala and auction, has truly been a new beginning for our museum and community,” museum director Nicola Lees said in the announcement. “Led by artists and brought together through the great generosity and kindness of our board and donors, we have used this week to mark out the exciting and productive path we intend to take going forward as an institution committed to the infinite possibilities that come from learning, growing and changing.”

The 2021 ArtCrush Gala honored Mary Weatherford with the Aspen Award for Art. To mark the occasion, Weatherford received a one-of-a-kind red resin shard made by the late jewelry sculptor Cara Croninger. Weatherford’s solo exhibition, “Neon Paintings,” was presented at the museum from December through May.

Bidding for works by Rita Ackermann and Mary Weatherford set auction records for both artists.

Ackerman’s “The Gamblers” sold for $720,000 and Weatherford’s “Outer Reaches of Space, Reason, and Time” went for $600,000. The live auction also sold Vaughn Spann’s “A peek through the clouds…New Dawn” (Marked Man) for $270,000, Florian Krewer’s “night fire” for $165,000, Mary Corse’s “Untitled (Black Earth)” for $130,000, Oscar Murillo’s “manifestation” for $350,000, Precious Okoyomon’s “My heart makes my head swim (ditto, ditto battle angel)” for $110,000, a Catherine Opie commissioned portrait for $200,000, Richard Phillips’ “Figure Painting 2020” for $150,000 and Cerith Wyn Evans’s “Neon Forms (after Noh XI)” for $100,000.

In addition, the silent online auction hosted on Sotheby’ raised $1.1 million.

The gala and live auction, raising funds for the museum and its programs, ended a week-long and expanded slate of ArtCrush events at the museum beginning with the free and family-friendly Midsummer Blowout on July 31 and including a hike and meal by Spiral Theory Test Kitchen, tastings with the Illicit Gin Institute, panel discussions, performances and the pop-up interactive installation “Into the Wood” by Adam Stamp.