Lehmann Maupin, Aspen gallery pop-up pioneer
Art gallery tested waters in Aspen last summer before 2021 rush
A year ago, amid strict COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and the initial wave of pandemic urban exodus to the mountains, the international art gallery Lehmann Maupin opened a pop-up in a second-floor space on Hyman Avenue in downtown Aspen.
They ran by appointment-only, exhibiting artwork from the gallery’s roster and décor by R & Company, in collaboration with the nonprofit House of Today for the latter half of summer 2020.
It wasn’t apparent then, but the short-term run by this multi-national gallery — with spaces in New York, London, Seoul and Hong Kong — was pioneering a new model for international galleries and a trend that has since remade the commercial gallery landscape in Aspen. This summer, a half-dozen more major galleries followed, with blue-chip galleries popping up for summer here including White Cube, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Almine Rech and Christie’s.
“I’m happy about that success and that we had other galleries follow suit,” Lehmann Maupin partner Carla Camacho said last week. “We’re happy to be part of a larger community.”
Lehmann Maupin came back, too, popping up this time adjacent to the Aspen Art Museum on the 600 block of Hyman and this time partnering with Carpenters Workshop Gallery to showcase their design pieces alongside the artwork.
They opened the group exhibition “Second Nature” on July 1, with works revolving around themes of artificial and organic matter by artists like Aspen Award for Art recipient Teresita Fernandez, Mandy El-Sayegh, Lee Bul and Liu Wei.
A follow-up group show, “Material Space,” is due to open in early August — coinciding with ArtCrush at the Aspen Art Museum — and will focus on minimalism in works by contemporary artists McArthur Binion and Rick Owens, among others.
Camacho said last summer’s Aspen pop-up came together quickly as the gallery was looking for ways to innovate while its flagship New York gallery was closed, an attempt to meet collectors where they were (and where a gallery could operate legally and safely).
“It was pretty amazing to be open in Aspen, just to have people coming in,” said Camacho. “We did some great sales and had some potential follow up that felt like it needed to be developed with stronger presentation.”
So gallery leaders planned over the last year for Aspen, curating “Second Nature” and “Material Space” in conjunction with Carpenters Workshop and getting some more pop-up experience with a winter run in Palm Beach and Taipei. As installed this summer, the art and design pieces create what Camacho calls “vignettes” of two- and three-dimensional work that complement one another to tell a story.
Carpenters Workshop also has a pop-up running in the Hamptons this summer — a partnership with Christie’s. Planting a flag in Aspen amid the more permanent population moving here, buying and building new homes, was a natural fit for the design gallery, which has permanent spaces in London, Paris, San Francisco and New York.
“It was just the right moment with Aspen to join forces and to kind of bring this project to life and realize it this summer” said Carpenters director for the Americas, Ashlee Harrison. “It’s nice that we can go to Aspen and you can see people from LA Chicago, Texas, New York and Miami —that it kind of brings everyone together within this very central space.”
Harrison and Camancho said the pop-up model has allowed galleries to build community relationships in new places like Aspen that are far from urban centers and allow for people — collectors and casual observers alike — to spend more time with the work and learning about the artists and designers.
“It’s a more relaxed environment,” Camacho said.
From a business front, they said they’re developing new and deeper client relationships here. And from a creative standpoint, they’re connecting with Aspen locals and artists and art enthusiasts who wouldn’t have crossed paths with Lehmann Maupin or Carpenters Workshop if they hadn’t come here. As Harrison put it: “What I like about doing these pop-ups is you really get to connect with the community.”
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