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Dick Carter: Guest Opinion

Dick Carter
Aspen, CO Colorado

I have been a working artist in this valley for nearly 40 years. I was a founder of the Aspen Art Museum and served on its charter board of directors. I have served on the Anderson Ranch and the Aspen Community School boards, and I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Wyly Community Arts Center in Basalt. I know what a vital arts community means to this valley.

I would like to urge everyone who is eligible to vote in favor of the Aspen Art Museum property issue on the coming ballot. That’s yes on No. 1.

I would recommend you all walk down to the museum and have the staff show you the models of the proposed building. It is a beautiful, extremely functional facility, and I have no doubt that it would be a huge benefit to the community’s cultural and economic life.

This building will cost the taxpayers nothing but will generate huge benefits. At a time when the economy is faltering, we should be thrilled that there are those willing to invest privately in a nonprofit capital project. Think stimulus … ask Obama. Not building this new structure doesn’t help anyone who is suffering from unemployment or lost investments. Building it will infuse millions into the local economy. Seems like a no-brainer unless you are Bobby Jindal or a Republican congressman.

It is a gift to this valley.

I may have disagreements with some of the curatorial selections of the current AAM staff, and I think they could better engage the Colorado art community sometimes, and I have been vocal about those issues. But I do admire their ability to put this ambitious plan into action and generate the kind of financial support that could get this project completed. And I am not about to bite my nose off to spite my face … although some would say that’s not a bad idea.

I do have an attachment to the current location but it has some real limitations, and it will find another beneficial community use. I can think of a number of uses without trying too hard.

There are so many bogus arguments floating around about this project, but hey, that’s Aspen, right? Nothing is simple. But replacing an underutilized white elephant and a pizza joint with a significant addition to our cultural institutions is problematic for some ” man, do I love pizza! I also love great art and architecture … what to do?

Some folks just don’t want the city to sell the property because it’s valuable. It’s valuable if it’s used for community benefit. Hell, what better use than an art museum? Have we gone bonkers? Isn’t the Skico on government land? Nobody wonders what will happen if it goes bust (climate change, anyone?). Maybe a 99-year lease makes sense.

The City Council could search for years and not find a better reason to sell this underutilized property than to the Art Museum. Please, go check out the site model.

And another thing: Art is not limited to the so-called elite (another right-wing favorite term). This valley is bursting with those who support the arts, and it is a huge social, cultural, educational, economic engine here. More Americans visit museums than all sporting events combined, and by a large margin. The new Yankee stadium ” now that’s elite. And I love the Yankees. But I digress.

If you have issues with the new museum, speak out about them but don’t confuse the issues. The new museum building will be a boon to our arts community, whoever is running it in the future.

Forget the scolds and shortsighted naysayers … this is a very positive addition to our community. I hope you vote yes and let the lovefest begin.


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