SAW exhibition opens at Aspen Art Museum
November 11, 2010
ASPEN – The problem: SAW – Studio for Arts and Works is a facility that features artists and architects, but the Aspen Art Museum, which invited SAW to participate in its 970.org project, is better adapted to art exhibitions than architectural presentations.
The solution: Find a door through which SAW’s architects can enter the realm of the Aspen Art Museum. Even if those architects have to build that entryway themselves.
Visitors to the SAW exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum – part of the museum’s ongoing 970.org, a series of exhibitions by various local arts organizations – will walk through “Corrugami,” a doorway of folded sheets of corrugated metal created by Gavin Brooke and Jeff Ellis, partners in the architectural firm Land + Shelter, and their employee Andi Korber.
“The idea here was, we contribute to the vitality of SAW; we should contribute a piece to the exhibition,” Brooke said.
“SAW is inherently a collaboration between me and Gavin – me as an artist and Gavin as an architect,” Alleghany Meadows, a ceramist and SAW partner, said. “The entryway is an extension of that: Architecture deals with structure, the entry into home and space. Art-making is inherently messy and risky, so bringing this thing that Land + Shelter had done is a part of that risky element. And through that, you find beauty and emotion.”
In creating “Corrugami,” the architects sought not to merely participate, but to bring some of the physical flavor of SAW to the museum. The corrugated metal mimics the physical rawness of SAW’s Carbondale facility.
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“We were looking for a way of bringing the essence of SAW up here,” Brooke, a partner in SAW, said on Tuesday afternoon at the museum. “SAW has an ugly duckling quality – ugly on the outside and vibrant on the inside.”
“This,” Brooke continued, pointing to “Corrugami,” “changes the threshold, and changes people’s expectations as they enter the Aspen Art Museum gallery space. People have been here a hundred times, and always passed through the same doorway. There’s an element of the unexpected, and of the rustic in a refined space and the contrast that represents.”
To further the point of the collaborative nature of SAW, and to liven up Thursday’s 6 p.m. public reception, the exhibition features a performance-art element. The “model-off” will have six teams of architects tackling an assignment: to build a piece that includes residences and studios for three artists, on public land in downtown Aspen, in which the artists’ lives are fully exposed as performance art. Over three hours, in the museum’s gallery space, the architects will create their models, and the models will then be displayed for the duration of the exhibition, which runs through Sunday, Nov. 14.
Brooke said that such a competition is familiar to anyone who has gone through architectural school. “You have to express an idea, or resolve a problem, in a few days,” he said. “It mirrors how architects work, but this compresses time and makes it competitive.”
The exhibition also includes more traditional art, by artists who are affiliated with SAW: paintings by Stanley Bell and KC Lockrem, ceramics by Anne Goldberg and Steven Colby, jewelry by Colby June.
At the outset of 970.org, Aspen Art Museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson expressed the hope that the project would shake participating artists out of their usual methods and approaches. Sure enough, Brooke said creating a doorway for the museum has opened up his thinking.
“From an architectural, experimental approach, it was interesting to us,” he said of “Corrugami.” “It’s inspiring me; I’m thinking about projects I can do as siding for a building. It’s a new way of thinking about that material. I hope 30 other architects are inspired by it.”
Brooke said that much of his inspiration has come from the artists he works side-by-side with at SAW. “Without the art of these walls, I never would have gotten up the force of caring, the will to make this piece,” he said of “Corrugami.” “It’s these people making art that inspires me to make architecture.”
That is the basic idea on which SAW was founded four years ago.
“This exhibition validates the idea – to have creative artists and creative professionals. And to have both groups become better for it,” Meadows said.