August 6, 2009
Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas all started with a bluegrass foundation, and then proceeded in divergent directions. Meyer, a bassist, went into the classical world, where he broke down barriers previously imposed on his instrument, and became an acclaimed composer to boot. Bush, a mandolinist, has shown a serious affection for reggae, and only slightly less fondness for rock, blues and country. Douglas, a dobro player, brings heavy flavors of bebop and fusion into his sound. The three, who were once part of the string supergroup Strength in Numbers, have carried on as a trio, making music that draws on all those influences and more. They appear together Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Benedict Music Tent. For more outside-the-box string wizardry, Mark O’Connor, the fiddler from Strength in Numbers, appears Saturday, Aug. 15, at Harris Hall, with guitarist Sharon Isbin.
With Fred Tomaselli, the Aspen Art Museum delivers a show that is at once spectacular, accessible, beautiful and strange. The very first word likely to be used in a description of Tomaselli, a 53-year-old California native who has lived in New York City for 25 years, is drugs, and with good reason: The work features such materials as pharmaceutical pills and marijuana leaves (the genuine article, in both cases), and can be called trippy, even psychedelic. But Tomaselli can’t be accused of flashing back to familiar ’60s images. Instead, his aim is to provide a mind-altering experience for the viewer, and that requires wildly ambitious and utterly unique approaches that encompass the natural world, politics, landscapes, and the act of perception. Tomaselli messes with your mind (and your eyes) in an absorbing way. The Aspen Art Museum, which honored Tomaselli with its 2009 Aspen Award for Art, presents a survey of his work dating back to the ’80s. It runs through Oct. 11.
You can start to feel it: Summer’s end is within sight, and there’s a lot you haven’t done yet. (FYI: By the calendar, summer is just at its halfway point. Chill.) But it’s true, the summer arts season is down to its last few weeks, and come fall, there are some items you don’t want to leave uncrossed-off. Perhaps tops among those is Theatre Aspen’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The musical, centered around a bunch of brainy misfit kids, with their misfit parents and teachers hovering in the background, is almost as smart as it is fast-paced and funny. “Spelling Bee” has five dates left, including this week, Monday, Aug. 10 and Thursday, Aug. 13.