Survey says… winter arts 2004-05 |

Survey says… winter arts 2004-05

Stewart Oksenhorn

Readers of The Aspen Times have got to be sick of my tastes by now: bluegrass, “The Simpsons,” films by the Coen Brothers. And oy, you must be thinking, when will he shut up with the damn Grateful Dead already? Trust me, having done this for more than a decade, I’m sick of my own tastes. (Come on, brain, enough with the Woody Allen. He isn’t even funny anymore.) My daughter’s sick of my opinions and she’s only been hearing them for five-and-a-half years. How my wife puts up with the constant Del McCoury Band CDs and obscure foreign films, I’m not sure.So, out of regard for you, my family and myself, I’m handing over the opining to the experts. Following are picks from the upcoming winter season in the local arts, entertainment and dining (and in one case, for no good reason, footwear) by the artists, programmers and the like. Participants were encouraged to stick to their fields of expertise, and were, for the most part, not permitted to self-promote.Visual artsDennis SchollLeading contemporary art collector, vice-chair of the Aspen Art Museum national council and part-time AspeniteThe Aspen Art Museum is doing a big show by Kendall Geers [titled “Hung, Drawn and Quartered, showing Feb. 18-April 10]. Part of the show is a massive wall of barbed concertina wire. It’s so frightening and beautiful at the same time. It will shock people and amaze them, He’s a very political artist, but he uses politics and lyricism both, and that’s very difficult to do.

And Dirk Skreber [Dec. 10 through Feb. 6] will do a great show. He’s a really important international painter and he was asked to do new work for the museum, and that’s exciting. He’s on everybody’s mind; he’s really in the zeitgeist, making new realism and abstract paintings. Right now, German painting is the hottest thing in the art world.Dean SobelInterim director of the Aspen Art MuseumAt David Floria, I’m particularly looking forward to the exhibit of New Works on Paper by Bill Jensen [Feb. 19-April 10]. He’s a painter’s painter, almost a cult figure, working in late-abstract expressionist mode. For David, that’s a real smart selection.And at the Baldwin Gallery, it’s Glenn Ligon [Feb. 18-March 21]. He’s an African-American artist who works in a variety of mediums and styles, with works that are provocative and deal with his own identity.Music Josh Behrman

Concert promoter, head of Mountain Groove ProductionsJonny Lang will be a good Wheeler show [Wheeler Opera House, Jan. 24-25]. To see him in a living room is great. I saw him years ago at the Hard Rock Cafe [in Aspen] – I think he was only 17 at the time, and to see him after he’s more polished and developed at the Wheeler, I think we’ll see a world of difference.And I look forward every year to Beyond Bluegrass [Wheeler, March 16-19]. I have a bluegrass background; I used to do bluegrass festivals. And they’re bringing in one of my favorite bands, Donna the Buffalo, who I had at my festivals. What they bring is an enormous amount of energy that might not have been seen in the bluegrass world. When they played at my festival in North Carolina, it was bedlam. Literal bedlam – a riot broke out.And then there’s a lot of stuff I just don’t know about, because everybody’s finalizing their schedules. I’m hearing all sorts of rumors about X-Games, like Red Hot Chili Peppers are coming.Marc BreslinExecutive vice president of Jazz Aspen SnowmassThe opening of the Double Diamond – whatever band they have, it’ll be a great thing. The club reopening is the best news of the year.

And Hot Tuna [Jan. 7, Wheeler]. They’ve always been one of my favorites and I saw them at the Double Diamond. The Wheeler is a great place to show their versatile talents.And my special secret for the old-timers is Mr. John Prine [Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Snowmass Conference Center], one of the most brilliant songwriters and storytellers.Ted AskewKAJX classical music program directorThere are two concerts that are part of the [Aspen Music Festival’s] winter series by artists who are young, but well-known. One is the German violinist Christian Tetzlaff. He’s one of the foremost interpreters of solo music by Bach. It’s rare for someone to pull off a concert of solo music; usually you have a pianist. He’ll be playing some Bach and some modern music – Bartók – and Paganini. There’s music from three centuries, so there’s some diversity there.And then a young Polish pianist, Piotr Anderszewski, who is making his first appearance here. He’s in his 30s, too – young by classical music standards – and he’s one of the rising stars in the piano world. He’s highly regarded by his peers and on the top of his game.Dining

KileyCo-owner of Specialty Foods of Aspen and The Cheese ShopOf all the new places on the scene, the one that’s got me most excited is the Dogwood Grill [Riverside Plaza, Basalt]. Nothing on chef Adrian’s menu is ordinary, and the execution every time is perfect.I’ve also been impressed by Phat Thai [Main Street, Carbondale.] Mark Fisher has done such a great job of keeping things authentic. He’s just serving great Thai food. Both places are downvalley, but definitely worth the drive.FilmLaura Thielen

Executive director of Aspen Filmfest(Thielen was permitted to select films showing at Filmfest’s Academy Screenings – Dec. 19 through Jan. 1 at Harris Hall – as eliminating those would have put virtually every prominent winter film off-limits.)The ones I’m excited about are “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” and “The Sea Inside.” Because I love [“The Life Aquatic” director] Wes Anderson; I loved “The Royal Tenenbaums.” He’s a very original director.And “The Sea Inside” – I’ve been reading about this film since early last summer and I’m eager to see if it lives up to the praise it’s getting. And [“The Sea Inside” star] Javier Bardem – the last thing I saw him in was “Before Night Falls.” You just don’t get to see him enough.Also, I’m very intrigued by Aspen Theatre in the Park’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” (Dec. 21-23, Wheeler). It’s such a fabulous film and what a neat idea to do a live production. And I understand they’re incorporating some of the original film into the production.Bob RafelsonDirector of “Mountains of the Moon” and “Five Easy Pieces”; producer of “Easy Rider”I think Alexander Payne’s movie, “Sideways,” is the one I look most forward to. Everything the man has made [“About Schmidt,” “Election,” “Citizen Ruth”] leads me to believe he has astonishing capabilities. Also, I thought last year’s best performance was by [“Sideways” star] Paul Giamatti, in “American Splendor.”

Also, Lands End fur-lined slippers. The picture looks good in the catalogue. They’re not really fur-lined; it’s faux fur.OK, my turn. I also can’t wait to see “Sideways,” largely because of Paul Giamatti, partly because of Alexander Payne, and mostly because my sister said it was one of the best she’s ever seen and her movie tastes and mine coincide remarkably. And “The Woodsman,” starring Kevin Bacon as a child molester returning from prison to his old hometown, sounds disturbing enough to be my kind of film.On the concert front, Hot Tuna, playing a show of acoustic and electric sets is one I won’t miss. Also sure to be memorable, on celebratory energy alone, is the planned reopening of the old Double Diamond space.Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is bringing in MOMIX to do their wacky “Baseball” (March 18-19 at the Aspen District Theatre), and as a fan of baseball and MOMIX director Moses Pendleton, that’s appealing.On the dining side, I think Blue Maize’s expansion works in every way, and the food is excellent and unique. I want to check out the fabulously pricey Manrico by Massimo Masciaga – I’m dying to find out what’s in a $20 bowl of cream of broccoli soup – but I’ll wait till someone else is buying.Finally, there are two must-see shows at the USCAF. One is the reunion of the cast and director of “Waiting for Guffman.” “Guffman” was good, but the crew went on to make two even better mockumentaries: “A Mighty Wind” and the mighty “Best in Show.” And the celebration of the alumni of the Harvard lampoon brings in serious talent, including two of my lesser-known heroes, Mike Reiss and George Meyer. They’re two of the most significant members of the writing crew of “The Simpsons.”Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is