The Aspen Art Museum is putting its chips down on Yutaka Sone. The artist, born in Japan and based in Los Angeles, has been given a broad canvas on which to create art in Aspen. Sone, a one-time ski racer, has already made his mark; his design, “Ski Madonna,” adorns all-day lift tickets issued this season by the Skico. And now Sone really gets extreme. Saturday, Feb. 18, Sone leads kids and adults in the Snow Cactus Sculpture Festival, on the museum grounds. Sunday, Feb. 19, gets rocking with Sone leading the Aspen Powder Cactus Band, a free-for-all jam session, at the museum. Following that, his performance art project, “Mt. 66,” will have a helicopter lift a pair of Sone’s 8-foot dice from the museum and fly them to Buttermilk, where they will be dropped down the halfpipe. A video of “Mt. 66” will then be among the ski-related artworks in Sone’s X-Art exhibition at the museum. Where this project lands, nobody knows.
Hollywood is being congratulated for being “important” and “daring,” having recently tackled such subjects as homosexuality, Big Oil and racism in commercial movies. But perhaps the most important and easily the most daring current film has nothing to do with Hollywood or box office receipts. Kalsang Dolma, a Tibet-born Canadian, returned to her homeland to film “What Remains of Us,” a documentary about the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The film consists of reactions to a videotaped message by the exiled leader, the Dalai Lama. By necessity, Kalsang filmed the eight-year project without the knowledge of the Chinese authorities, but the secrecy involved in presenting the movie goes beyond that. To protect the Tibetans who appear on-screen, “What Remains of Us” is shown under the tightest security, with audience members searched for recording devices. The film will never be released on TV or DVD, so Aspen Filmfest’s presentation, Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Wheeler Opera House, should be considered a special event. One bonus of the security measures is that Kalsang travels with the film, so she will be present at the screening, and will engage in a Q&A session. This is her second visit here; at last fall’s Aspen Filmfest, her film took the prize for Audience Favorite Documentary.
Aspen is getting its fill of Texas songwriters. Robert Earl Keen filled the Wheeler Opera House last month; musician/gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman plays a United Jewish Appeal benefit at the Belly Up Thursday, Feb. 16; and Lyle Lovett has been booked for a pair of Wheeler dates, Feb. 28-March 1. Joining that illustrious bunch is the lesser-known but similarly accomplished James McMurtry. The son of novelist and screenwriter Larry McMurtry, James was raised in Virginia, but in sensibility and sound he is a product of the Lone Star state, where he was born and now lives. McMurtry has one thing on Keen, Lovett and Friedman: He can claim to have the most recent outstanding album of the bunch. Last year’s “Childish Things” is anything but juvenile. The album, a best of 2005 Aspen Times pick, takes aim at modern-day America; the centerpiece, “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore,” is a weary lament of domestic greed, racism, poverty and aggression. McMurtry appears in an electric trio Monday, Feb. 13, at the Belly Up, opening for California’s Hot Buttered Rum String Band, originators of the “high-altitude acoustic experience.”