The Red Brick will hold its final community engagement session on the public art program at Aspen Art Museum on Sept. 20

Led by Carbondale artist Chris Erickson, people help paint the pavement in front of the Wheeler Opera House on Sunday as part of a joint project between the city of Aspen and the Aspen Ideas Festival. Taking inspiration from famed architect and artist Herbert Bayer, whose influence is still greatly felt here in the Roaring Fork Valley, Erickson writes that this mural is meant “to celebrate the idea of community. In this design, the intense vibrant color is reflective of the unique personalities that reside in Aspen.” Erickson was also the artist behind the “melting gondola” sculpture that was displayed at the top of Aspen Mountain.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

For its final public art engagement event, the Red Brick Center for the Arts is holding a public session at the Aspen Museum of Art on Wednesday, Sept. 20. The event will include presentations by local artists and table discussions with experts in the hopes of engaging the community to help shape the public art program in Aspen.

“We want people to show up and commit their time to us and really dig into the goals of the program and articulate what values they want to see expressed in our public art,” said Sarah Roy, executive Director, Red Brick Center for the Arts. “We’re also going to dive into placemaking and start identifying places in town where a lot of people gather, or perhaps identifying places where people don’t gather, but maybe we should. This event is getting into the meat of what we want our public art program to be.”

Aspen City Council set the public art program into motion on March 14 when they approved a contract between consultants Kendall Peterson of ThereSquared and Jill Stilwell of Stilwell Cultural Consulting and the city for the project.

That kicked off a summer of information gathering as well as the project’s first organized public art installation, a street mural in front of the Wheeler Opera House led by local artist Chris Erickson, done in conjunction with the kickoff of the Aspen Ideas Festival in June.

Roy said that the agreed-upon public engagement and feedback time will come to an end by October 1. Then the team, along with the consultants, will spend a couple of months compiling their learnings and drafting a plan to present to the city council before the end of the year. If all goes well she hopes that the first public art project will be underway during the first quarter of 2024.

“During this community engagement, we’ve learned, that the overwhelming majority seem to be very interested in temporary work,” she said. “It could be something that’s up for a week, it could be something 6, 12, or 18 months. Temporary can have a range of time length. That is a really smart way to approach this for a couple of reasons. One, it gives us the ability to start saying ‘What do we like and where do we like it?’ And it allows us to have this continual evolution of creativity.”

Other notable themes were the need for partnerships with other local creative communities and organizations as well as the desire for more opportunities for personal interaction and connection.

She said that even though there is still time to have your voice heard, the deadline is fast approaching, and encouraged everyone to attend and take the survey before the end of the month.

“Arts and culture is such a cornerstone of Aspen,” said Roy. “This town really appreciates how art adds to the richness of our lives and people really recognize the statement that can be made when art is out in our public spaces. When art is out in our public spaces, it’s free and accessible for all to enjoy. I think people are excited about that potential.”

If you go…

What: Public Art Creative Conversation: Building the future of public art in Aspen

When: Wednesday, Sept. 20 4-6 p.m.

Where: Aspen Art Museum

More information and to take survey:

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