Skico turns lift tickets into an art |

Skico turns lift tickets into an art

Naomi Havlen

This piece by Yutaka Sone will be on display on Aspen Skiing Co. lift tickets this year. (Aspen Times photo)

Fresh powder and sweeping views on the ski hills around Aspen easily can be considered a work of art, so it’s not much of a leap to have a small piece of art on a lift ticket, right?The Aspen Art Museum is partnering with the Aspen Skiing Co. to put a painting by artist Yutaka Sone on lift tickets this winter. The painting, commissioned by art museum Director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, is called “Ski Madonna” and features a wintry scene on Aspen Mountain with the artist’s skis in the foreground and his guide telemarking in the distance.The guide depicted in the painting, “Ski Madonna” herself, is Aspen resident Christy Sauer, development associate at the art museum. Sauer skied with Sone last winter when he visited Aspen to get inspiration for the painting. She didn’t realize she would wind up its subject.

“When I saw it I knew exactly where that was – it was on Trainors Ridge and he captured all of the balls of snow that were rolling down the hill,” she said. “It was such an inspiration – I think he looks at skiing like painting, putting the same strokes into the snow.”Sone grew up in Japan, where he skied frequently and raced in competitions. He lives in Los Angeles and is a season pass holder at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Sauer said.The partnership with the Skico was something Zuckerman Jacobson said she dreamed up when she was approached about becoming the director of the Aspen Art Museum.”The lift tickets in various places I’ve seen never have very dramatic or arresting images, if you will,” she said. “It seemed like a perfect canvas for artists.”

When she accepted the position, Sone was the first artist who came to her mind for an exhibition, as his work embodies what she thinks Aspen is about – “sport, fun, humor and reverence for nature,” she said. “He completely loves snow. When I invited him to do an exhibition here I asked if I could commission an image for a lift ticket.”Sone’s work will be on display at the Aspen Art Museum from Feb. 17 to April 16. But before then, ski passes sold every day to visitors – not the Skico’s season passes that include photographs of the holder – will include the image of “Ski Madonna.””I don’t think it has a religious under- or overtone, it’s just about that kind of strong, female figure who has a kind of inherent power and mystique,” Zuckerman Jacobson said.Skiers can bring a ski pass down to the art museum this winter for 50 percent off the price of admission.

“I am very proud to have my artwork on the Aspen Skiing Company lift ticket, and I’m happy people will be skiing with my ‘Ski Madonna,'” Sone said in a prepared statement. “I’m excited about my upcoming exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum, and I hope people will come see what we are doing.”Sone’s work has never appeared at the Aspen Art Museum before. His art has been shown in the Whitney Biennial, Biennale of Sydney and Yokahama Triennial.”We hope people will take advantage of [the discount on admission] to see more of Yutaka’s work and to see what we’re doing to bring artists from around the globe to Aspen,” Zuckerman Jacobson said.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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