Mexico City’s Galeria Mascota pops up in Aspen


What: Galeria Mascota

Where: Little Nell Hotel

More info: The opening show “Pacific Coast Ceramics” features work by Sharif Farrag, Anabel Juarez, Shio Kusaka, Tony Marsh, Dan McCarthy, Roger Herman, Ruby Neri, Alessandro Pessoli, Sterling Ruby, Brian Rochefort, Jennifer Rochlin, Anna Sew Hoy and Tam Van Tran;

Art galleries have remained one of the only places where people can consistently go for some social connection and visual stimulation during the novel coronavirus pandemic. In Aspen, galleries have become a cultural hub as well as a socially distanced public square, where the tourism industry’s working class crosses paths with well-heeled collectors looking for new works for their new Aspen mansions.

Karla Garza and Javier Estevez are opening Galeria Mascota here with that in mind.

“The idea is to make this space really open and welcoming to people,” Estevez said last week. “We are excited to meet everyone here.”

The Aspen location in the Little Nell Hotel — the commercial space formerly home to Dennis Basso — puts the gallery slopeside and in the middle of the ski season action here. It’s the first expansion for the Mexico City-based Galeria Mascota, where the roster has included some young and undiscovered artists alongside well-established figures on the contemporary art scene.

The pop-up opened Nov. 2 and will be open through April.

The first exhibition is a group exhibition of ceramic works by 13 artists.

Opening with ceramics was a natural choice, the owners said, as the ceramics that come out of Anderson Ranch Arts Center is among the Aspen area’s most prominent creative stamps on the international art world (Garza and Estevez admire and collect the work of local ceramicist Sam Harvey, who runs Harvey Preston Gallery).

Karla Garza has been coming to Aspen with her family as a visitor for the past 27 years. As the global pandemic struck, she was among the urban migration to the Aspen area of former tourists and second-homeowners who settled in for the long haul to enjoy the space and outdoorsy lifestyle.

She settled here in May. The idea to open a new gallery here developed since then, as a way to cement roots and to contribute meaningfully to local life as new residents.

“I’ve always wanted to be part of the Aspen community,” she explained. “Being here for so long, I’ve wanted to give something back to Aspen after taking for so many years.”

After the opening ceramics show, they’re planning a bigger exhibition for the December holidays, traditionally a time when local galleries unveil their splashiest exhibitions of the year. Galleria Mascota is planning to open in mid-December a showcase of midcentury French furniture design, converting the gallery into a living room-like setting furnished with hand-chosen objects that emerged from the midcentury modern period out of Paris along with representations of their favorite architecture from the period.

It is a sequel to a similar 2019 show in Mexico, but will be viewed with new eyes, they noted, as we’ve all spent most of the past eight months cooped up at home during the coronavirus pandemic and have turned a new critical eye to home furnishings.

Galeria Mascota joins a growing list of new galleries that have opened downtown during the pandemic, as art galleries prove to be viable commercial and creative endeavors during the massive disruptions of COVID-19. Among the new entries to the scene in recent months are Quantummola, Eden Fine Art Gallery, Lehmann Maupin, the return of the Gonzo Gallery and the soon-to-open Patrick Guyton Gallery on the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall.

Being a part of this fertile scene was a major draw for the Galeria Mascota.

“People in Aspen are so passionate about art and design the same way we are,” Estevez said. “There are so many great galleries in Aspen and we want to bring our own perspective.”