Sobel says farewell to art museum |

Sobel says farewell to art museum

Stewart Oksenhorn

Dean Sobel, the director and chief curator of the Aspen Art Museum, has arranged an ambitious, expansive celebration of the museum’s 25th anniversary this summer.But the art museum will have to observe its birthday without Sobel, who announced his resignation yesterday.The resignation will be effective in September. Asked why he resigned, Sobel said he was leaving “to pursue independent curatorial projects,” though he added he has no specific plans yet and doesn’t know if he’ll be leaving the Aspen area.”We are tremendously grateful for Dean’s efforts over the past four years, and we will miss his deep enthusiasm for art and artists. We extend him our best wishes,” said museum president Susan Marx.Since taking over the head position at the art museum in February 2000, Sobel has overseen an expansion in the museum’s operating budget from $1 million to $1.45 million. Under his leadership, the Aspen Art Museum earned accreditation last year from the American Association of Museums, an honor Sobel takes particular pride in.”That really does show that we operate at the same standards as the best museums in the country,” he said.The Aspen Art Museum took an unquestionable leap forward in presenting challenging, cutting-edge and far-ranging exhibits in Sobel’s four-plus years.Among the artists featured at the museum since 2000 have been such established figures as Willem de Kooning, Ed Ruscha and Louise Bourgeois, and up-and-coming artists Laura Owens, Angela Bulloch and Thomas Demand. Sobel also took chances with exhibits like “Bamboo Masterworks: Japanese Baskets from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection.”Sobel, who has scheduled exhibits at the museum through 2005, is set to go out with a bang. Among the projects scheduled for this summer is the publication of “One Hour Ahead: The Avant-Garde in Aspen, 1945-2004,” a 136-page book with 150 images, written by Sobel.A popular, enthusiastic and frequent lecturer in his tenure at the art museum, Sobel will give a public lecture on his book July 12 at Paepcke Auditorium. Despite the resignation, Sobel expressed enthusiasm for this summer’s celebration, which includes four site-specific installations, three of them outside of the museum walls.”All of the plans are in place,” Sobel said of this summer’s events. “And it should be important not only for the museum, but we’re pushing the work outdoors and into the community. That, I’m especially looking forward to.”The art museum announced it will form a search committee immediately to recruit a new director. Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is

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