Endorsing the Art Museum

Dear Editor:

Many thoughtful letters have been written in support of voting “YES on 1″ to begin a process ” a Process not a Project ” regarding a possible new Art Museum on city land adjoining the presently moribund Galena Plaza.

While wanting to support this initiative yet not repeat points already well made, I remembered an encounter with Elizabeth Paepcke sometime in 1972.

She was showing some beautiful Le Corbusier sketches she had in her collection and then related a story about her first visit to a now-famous ” but at the time ” very controversial new chapel in France by him. She said she entered the chapel in the late afternoon and the low sun was streaming through the stained glass windows. She said, “Of course I wept.”

Maybe Shigeru Ban’s intelligent and elegantly understated building will have this power, maybe not.

But anyone who has examined his beautiful models and drawings would have to concede the possibility is there.

Recent contemporary art museums have blurred the line between art and architecture. A fine example of this is the one in Balbao, Spain. If the art doesn’t grab you, maybe the building will. Once an industrial backwater, Balbao is now a top tourist destination.

Ban’s building is designed to enliven Galena Plaza, something that multiple citizen/city planning efforts have suggested is a worthy goal. The existing greensward enclosed by a museum (with a lovely cafe) and the library opposite might finally succeed as the people place it was intended to be.

The new AAM would also revive Aspen’s design heritage, initiated by the Paepckes in the ’50s, but mostly forgotten over the past 45 years. What other mountain resort can claim a similar heritage? In 1984 we lost a potentially splendid Main Street Performing Arts Center and more recently the IDCA. Let’s not lose this one, too.

So please vote “YES on 1″ ” a vote for cultural and urban revitalization with no cost to we taxpayers.

Bill Lipsey