Museum is a gift to community | AspenTimes.com

Museum is a gift to community

Dear Editor:

As one of the three founders of the Aspen Art Museum I want to respond to the number of letters opposing the new building for the art museum. I do support the new building. When I first moved to Aspen in the ’70s a big part of the draw was not only that it was a beautiful small town in a gorgeous setting, but that it also had a cultural core, music, art, intellectual ideas of a global nature here as well. With great thanks and continuing appreciation to the Paepckes for that.

There was a place for gaining knowledge and the exchange of ideas: The Aspen Institute, which has just been beautifully updated. There was a place for the music, which blessedly has been updated with a gorgeous new tent. There was a bit of a row over that, I remember, as there was over what is the absolute gem of Harris Hall. There was, however, no real place to exhibit, reflect on the visual arts and the importance of creative thinking.

When the Holy Cross building became available it seemed, to Dick Carter, Diane Lewey and myself, to be the opportunity to at last have a place for the visual arts. Of course there was a row over that too. I think that I can speak for the three founders and say that we thought if making the Holy Cross building an art center was successful at some point in the future, an update to a larger, more accommodating space might be possible. Then the city could have the renovated building for their own use.

This is such an amazing gift for the community. It is incredible to me that it would incite such anger. Aspen is being offered, paid for, an important, world-class place for the visual arts. It will be a year-round facility attracting locals and visitors, and providing classes for children and adults, opening minds. Oh, for those of you who care about none of that, it will in fact bring revenue to the city as well.

When I was on the Colorado Commission for the Arts our biggest rows were over the art in public places programs. The communities that most complained about the art they were being given are now the ones who are most proud of it and are actually glad to have it.

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The reality is not having this building will not bring back “old Aspen.” Having this place, however, is an opportunity to present the visual arts in a way that reflects the importance of the visual arts in the fabric of culture and creative thinking, which is so much a part of what makes Aspen exceptional, and you can still go hiking, biking and skiing!

Laura G. Thorne, aka Missie

AAM founder, Snowmass