ARAC@AAM: Anderson Ranch Arts Center at the Aspen Art Museum adds up to a worthwhile portrait of Anderson Ranch, the unobtrusive 40-year-old institution in Snowmass Village. The exhibition features 27 artists who have been affiliated with the Ranch, and represents the wide range of disciplines offered there ” ceramics, wood, photography, painting and more ” and sensibilities from traditional to the cutting-edge. Some of the finest works are contributed by artists who didn’t just spend time at the Ranch but were genuine locals: a spectacular bead sculpture by Milton Rosa Ortiz; a wood installation by former Anderson Ranch program director Christine Lee; black-and-white photographs from the 1960s by Cherie Hiser. ARAC@AAM is at the Aspen Art Museum through Dec. 7.
Had Henry Garfield been born a decade earlier, his childhood writings, threatening destruction of his schools and teachers, would have made him a marked man. But as well as anyone, that boy learned to channel his rage to creative, rather than violent ends, and he became Henry Rollins, one of America’s most distinctive voices. In any of his guises ” author, comedian, punk singer, radio host, activist for homosexuals and soldiers, political commentator ” he confronts the status quo and accepted wisdom with intelligence, wit and unique style. Rollins returned to TV this past week with the IFC series “Henry Rollins: Uncut,” in which he exposes the tragedies in three hot-spots of injustice (New Orleans, South Africa, Northern Ireland). He shows up in person in Aspen to celebrate the end of the Bush era with his spoken-word performance, “Recountdown,” Sunday, Nov. 8 at Belly Up Aspen.
President-elect Obama’s triumph last week serves as the ideal backdrop for “The Order of Myths.” Margaret Brown’s documentary continues the conversation about race relations in America, and like Obama has done, it addresses the topic with intelligence, level-headedness and the nuance it demands. “The Order of Myths,” a nominee for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, examines black and white through the prism of Mobile, Ala.’s Mardi Gras celebration. Without rendering judgment, Brown raises the valid issue of tradition versus progress in the city’s almost entirely segregated Mardi Gras festivities (the oldest such bash in the U.S). There is a heart-warming cultural-exchange moment, when the king and queen of the African-American organization make the first-ever visit to the white coronation gala, and their counterparts return the privilege. But the film never hints that racism and racial unfairness are coming to a happy end anytime soon. “The Order of Myths” is at the Wheeler Opera House Sunday and Monday, Nov. 9-10.
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