Jasper Johns has served as a bridge between artistic schools. Arriving in New York from his native South Carolina in the early ’50s, the age of the Abstract Expressionists, Johns helped lead the way toward more representational art. While he employed popular symbols – most famously, the American flag – he stopped short of a celebration of pop artists’ celebration of mass culture. In New York, he befriended such modernists as composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham. And Johns was equally renowned as a painter and a printmaker. An exhibit of his work is showing through Nov. 26 at the CMC Gallery in Glenwood Springs; it opens with a public reception on Friday, Oct. 12, at 5:30 p.m.
John Denver’s career had faded greatly by the time he died in a plane crash off the central California coast in October 1997. But the memory of the folk singer and Aspen resident at his height, through the ’70s, lives on for many. Fans have flocked to Aspen for memorial events each October, and the activity level is heightened for this 10th anniversary of his death. In addition to the usual events – a trio of concerts featuring Denver’s old bandmates and co-writers (Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 11-13), and local musician John Adams’ Rocky Mountain High show (Sunday. Oct. 14), both at the Wheeler Opera House – there are some additions to the schedule. John Denver’s Storytellers Unplugged, an evening of remembrances focusing on the singer’s private life, comes to the Wheeler on Wednesday, Oct. 10. And another concert, Windstar, A Voice for the Future (Saturday, Oct. 13, with matinee and evening shows, at Harris Hall), will feature Denver associates James Burton and Steve Weissberg, as well as Jim Curry, who has portrayed Denver on TV and stage. Expect various less-formal gatherings as well, especially at the John Denver Sanctuary.
Critics seem split in equal numbers on “Across the Universe.” Some find Julie Taymor’s film, constructed out of Beatles songs, an appropriately groovy and far-out valentine to the ’60s. Others found it too filled with the decade’s kitsch and cliches. Here in Aspen, it seems that there is still enough of a whiff of ’60s idealism (and nostalgia?) to make it a welcoming place for the film. Last week’s Aspen Filmfest screening didn’t bring a resurgence of Beatlemania, exactly, but “Across the Universe” earned the unusual accolade of a standing ovation in a movie theater. The film features characters with familiar names – Jude, Lucy, Sadie, Prudence – partaking in standard ’60s activities – protesting the Vietnam War, using psychedelics and singing hopeful rock ‘n’ roll songs. And it all takes place in a swirl of cartoonlike action and candy colors. “Across the Universe” shows in Aspen this week.