Talented artists need base
Editor’s note: The following letter originally was sent to the Aspen City Council and Nikos Hecht.
There is a need in this community for what we active artists have to offer, and in turn, we need to support and validation for our talents. This is my plight.
In 1985 my high school children and I arrived in Aspen. That fall, Lee Larson and I rented the Tom Benton building from whoever owned it at the time. I am a painter and sold my ownership in a French Quarter art gallery in New Orleans, where I had lived for 25 years. Upon arrival here, I realized what an extremely elite quality of local artists lived their everyday lives in Aspen and unfortunately, for the most part, had no place to show with regularity except for the November Aspen Art Museum show. Lee and I planted the seed with the community and thus began the first sophisticated Aspen Artists’ Gallery co-op. I was lucky enough to be artist-in-residence in my third-floor, glass-encased studio looking up Red Mountain.
Our success was phenomenal. We formed as a co-op with each of the 14 artists having contributed minimal funds to support the premises until eventually the landlord doubled our rent upon renewal time, forcing us out of the building after an investment of much love and dedication. Sound familiar to any other Aspen residents?
We had displayed our work with people such as the late Marcia Cowee, the late photographer Louis Simon, Wewer Koehane, Jan Panico, Gerald Lily and so many more dedicated artists of extreme quality and accomplishment.
In a community of dedicated patrons of the arts, perhaps there are grant funds dedicated to support artists and their lifelong struggle and plight for art’s sake. We artists need the gratification of economic and patron support. I am addressing those of us who have dedicated a great portion of our efforts and lives to studying and improving over the years. I am not speaking of the very talented occasional artists.
The Benton building needs to be rented and occupied by “someone,” and it is rarely that we artists, at today’s rate of rent, could afford it. This building could be serving the community and our element of society, which appreciates the arts and offers our sophisticated travelers our artistic bill of fare. Well, this has been my plight, for good or bad, in reality or only visions. And succinctly, either grant money is there or it is not. But Aspen has always, to my understanding, tried to base decisions on the needs of the community and wishes of its inhabitants. So I simply “throw this all out there.”
Cathy Anderson Skutley