Soldner compound added to National Historic Trust, will open to public in summer | AspenTimes.com
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Soldner compound added to National Historic Trust, will open to public in summer

Tours of artists’ home and studio will run by appointment from June through September

Paul and Ginny Soldner. (Courtesy Stephanie Soldner)
SOLDNER HOUSE

Learn more about the Soldner Center for the Arts and Innovation at soldnercenter.com

The home, studio and 5-acre property of the late artists Paul and Ginny Soldner has been added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s program, which will help open its doors to the public this summer for the first time.

The artist-designed enclave includes five buildings, all built and designed by the Soldners — Paul Soldner, who died in 2011, is credited as the inventor of the “American Raku” ceramic technique and founder of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, while Ginny Soldner, who died in 1995, was a painter who worked in large-scale abstract and color field paintings.

The pair purchased the property in 1957 and spent the next four decades perfecting it, constructing buildings — mostly out of locally sourced stone and wood — as well as planting trees and landscaping. They also used solar power for heat, among the first in modern Aspen to do so.



In the wake of her father’s death, Stephanie Soldner convened a national council in 2014 to help decide on a direction for the property. That group conceived of the Soldner Center for Arts and Innovation, which will host visitors on the property.

“I really felt as though it’s always been part of Paul and Ginny’s life to be welcoming, to be open, to invite lots of people into their homes and share their lives,” Stephanie Soldner explained.




The Soldner Center site will be open for public tours by appointment beginning June 11 and will cost $25. Public access will close after Sept. 11 when the property is winterized. In anticipation of opening the site and expanding preservation efforts, Stephanie Soldner last year incorporated the center as a nonprofit. Programs may expand in the future, she said, but for now she simply wants people to be inspired by spending time in the creative enclave her parents made.

“We’re really hoping that when people come that they’ll bring a sketchpad, a journal, some snacks or even a sack lunch,” she said, ”and after the tour, they will be welcome to stay outside on the grounds and reflect on perhaps what the tour has meant to them or what Paul and Ginny’s meant, and perhaps dream or consider what they may want to do with their own lives. And then hopefully they act on some of those ideas.“

Inside one of five buildings in the newly preserved Soldner compound in Aspen. (Laura Hull/Courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation)

An undeveloped 2.5-acre section of the property was placed under a conservation easement in 2018, purchased by the city of Aspen, Pitkin County and Aspen Valley Land Trust, to preserve it as a wildlife corridor.

Located on the outskirts of Aspen near what is now the Burlingame Ranch neighborhood, the Soldner property is one of seven sites added in March to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program, which now includes more than 50 artist sites in 25 states. These latest additions also included the final studio of Norman Rockwell in Stockbridge, Mass.

While it is likely to become a pilgrimage site for artists and ceramicists drawn by the allure of Paul Soldner, Stephanie believes anyone can be enriched by a visit.

“I’ve been told many, many times that it’s really inspiring for all kinds of people,” she said. “Not just ceramic artists, but architects and people interested in alternative energy and anybody really who has a curious mind.”

Soldner said she has been motivated to use the site as a way to both honor the past and improve the future as she sees society — locally and nationally — moving away from the creative and Utopian spirit of her parents and the Aspen they helped shape.

“I feel like it these days, some of the Aspen idea is being lost in Aspen, but also within the United States,” she said. “And I feel like we have an opportunity to be a role model for other ways of being that are other options. There isn’t just one right way to live life.”

atravers@aspentimes.com


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