Snowmass council OKs asteroid-themed highway sign that arts board hopes to install on-mountain
A solar-powered LED highway sign gilded with the message, “We Are the Asteroid” in 24k gold is on-track to be installed somewhere at Snowmass Ski Area this winter, with the help of a $1,000 contribution from the town.
Snowmass’ Arts Advisory Board proposed the project, as part of a greater climate initiative in conjunction with Anderson Ranch and CORE Energy, before Town Council at a meeting Monday.
“A highway sign located off the highway — unusual and unexpected and with an interesting message,” SAAB chairwoman Linda Rennick said of the work by artist and environmental activist Justin Brice Guariglia.
“People, earthlings that we are, we think of, ‘when is the big asteroid going to hit?’ We see movies about when is the asteroid going to hit and wipe us all out,” Rennick explained. “Well, we don’t have to worry about the asteroid hitting us and wiping us out because we are wiping ourselves out. That’s essentially the thought that that is promoting.”
SAAB is working with Aspen Skiing Co. to “possibly see this piece of artwork located up on Elk Camp” in March, Rennick said, adding that she hopes to eye the sign while riding up a chairlift or the gondola.
A longtime local resident and skier, Rennick said the March timing is perfect for climate awareness because the snow “is melting earlier than usual.”
She pointed to peeping rocks and early run closures as a stark contrast to March skiing and snow conditions in previous years.
“This is climate change, folks,” she said. “It’s happening right here and now.”
CORE submitted the initial proposal for the piece as part of its month-long “Imagine Climate” art and science exhibit at Anderson Ranch.
As part of the initiative, which celebrates 25 years of sustainable energy and climate mitigation in the Roaring Fork Valley, CORE invited Guariglia to bring the “We Are the Asteroid” piece to Snowmass.
The highway sign was most recently on-display at Storm King Art Center in New York during a climate change exhibit that ended Nov. 12.
Addressing the work’s unconventional nature, Rennick said, “Some of you are probably looking at this and saying, ‘but is this art?’”
“Well I’m here to tell you that art takes many forms. It’s not always a painting or a piece of sculpture; it’s not always music, it’s not always poetry.”
Unlike the roundabout sculpture that was installed at the intersection of Brush Creek and Wood Road in June of 2017, the highway sign proposal was met with little discussion among Town Council, which supported SAAB’s direction and financial ask. Snowmass Town Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk was absent from the meeting.
The town of Snowmass’ $1,000 contribution is one-tenth of the overall project budget that includes shipping, insurance and installation.
On behalf of SAAB, Rennick concluded: “What we think this project does is it brings up a critical social problem that we want, as a community, to bring awareness to people that come from out of state, out of town, as well as all the people that live here and treasure this beautiful valley.”
SAAB members Darlene Fridstein and Hailey Walsh, who works as Anderson Ranch’s special events director, also were at the meeting.
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