City chimes in on art show flap | AspenTimes.com

City chimes in on art show flap

Janet Urquhart

The Aspen Art Museum will receive a $32,000 arts grant from the city next year, but City Council members gave the allocation unusual scrutiny this week in light of the museum’s controversial plan to drop the Valley Kids Art Show in favor of a new program.The council reviewed a list of recommended grants totaling some $1.1 million to arts organizations and other nonprofits Tuesday, but the art museum funding received the lion’s share of the discussion.Councilwoman Rachel Richards said she’s heard frustration from residents since the museum’s plan to revamp what had been a popular exhibit of youngsters’ art came to light last week. “I think this is the time to bring up my concern and frustration over discontinuing the Valley Kids show and the frustration I’ve heard from citizens the past few days,” she said. “I, at least, have had people ask me, ‘How can you continue to support them from the community treasury when they’re moving farther and farther away from community support.'”Councilman Torre said he, too, had reservations about the museum’s plan to replace the Young Artists of the Roaring Fork, better known as the Valley Kids Art Show, with the Young Curators of the Roaring Fork.”Yes, it will look different than it has in the past. Different can be better,” said Dara Coder, assistant director at the museum, defending the decision. Museum director and chief curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, who has created the new Young Curators program, is out of town.”It still incorporates kids’ art,” Coder assured the council.The decision to drop the Valley Kids show, however, may mean the youngest artists’ work doesn’t get displayed. The “young curators” will host two shows, including one specifically for their peers in the 13- to 18-year-old age group, and a second show that could have broader participation.”It will be their decision, what is included in the show,” Coder said. “In this second show, it could be any age.”Aspen Meadows, not the museum, will be the venue for both exhibits, she said.”What you just said concerns me,” Torre said. “We will have to see how it goes. I have a lot of reservations about it.”Mayor Helen Klanderud said she e-mailed her thoughts on the matter to Jacobson; she cut the council discussion off Tuesday before members could start second-guessing the museum’s decision.”I just don’t want to go there. I don’t think it’s an appropriate time for that,” she said.The council shouldn’t be dictating the art museum’s programming “any more than we would tell the Music Festival, ‘You will not play Mozart next year,’ ” Klanderud said.After the decision became public, though, a number of art teachers in the valley voiced disappointment. Jacobson plans to meet with teachers on Oct. 26 at the Wyly Community Arts Center, according to Joyce Gruenberg, a member of the museum’s board of directors.”In my opinion, as a board member, the Valley Kids show was not about education,” Gruenberg said. “It had no educational component.”Upcoming plans at the museum include an artist in residence with whom the public can interact as art is created, and a lecture series in conjunction with exhibits, in addition to the Young Curators program, she said.”I understand that people have become attached to the Valley Kids show, but it’s time to move on and offer quality education and not just a one-time experience,” Gruenberg said.Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss panned the museum’s handling of the decision, though. He suggested the spring exhibit could have taken place one last time while the museum better communicated its plan to transition into a new program the following year.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com