Blumenthal: A twist in the Base Village saga |

Blumenthal: A twist in the Base Village saga

Mel Blumenthal
Second View
Mel Blumenthal

With all the brouhaha and resultant angst in the upper Roaring Fork Valley concerning the new Aspen Art Museum and Related’s plans for completion of Base Village, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to weigh in on both controversial topics this week and add my opinions to the growing firestorm that appears to be engulfing us.

I assume by now most of you have made up your minds concerning the controversial placement, mass and overall appearance of the new Aspen Art Museum.

In a more appropriate location, it might be considered an interesting bit of contemporary architecture, but unfortunately it’s situated in the wrong place and is totally disrespectful of the surrounding landscape. The architect’s rationale for what he’s created is the typical PR that normally accompanies such controversial work intended to justify the significance of his creation. You’d be well advised to ignore this pile of BS when deciding whether or not you like it.

Since the building is up and operating, there’s nothing we mortal humans can do about it now, but likely Mother Nature will weigh in with her final word on the exterior façade during the harsh winter months ahead. Until then the best we can do is suck up our angst and just look the other way as we pass by.

My best advice: Travel downvalley for a truly enriching contemporary art experience and watch your unhappy memories of the Aspen Art Museum quickly fade away.

Although out of place and out of scale for its location, I’m equally if not more concerned by what’s on the inside. After all the hoopla surrounding this nationally touted museum, I was surprised that the opening exhibits were mediocre, non-compelling examples of contemporary art. Forgetting the ridiculous and inappropriate rooftop tortoise installation, the quality of much of the art on display is gimmicky and underwhelming. Unfortunately with no art collection of its own, this museum is dependent on the art it borrows from friendly artists, museum supporters and traveling exhibitions. If this is the best they could muster for such an important opening they’re in big trouble. They need to get cracking on the art as opposed to a lot more PR telling us how great and important it is, which it’s not.

Located at the opposite end of the valley is the extraordinarily beautiful new Powers Art Center, a contemporary art museum that respects its location and magnificent views with architecture that complements its surroundings rather than fights against them as does the new Aspen Art Museum. And best of all, its permanent collection contains most of the important limited edition works on paper of Jasper Johns, which will rotate periodically with other contemporary art pieces created by world-renowned artists.

The look, feel and importance of the magnificent new Powers Art Center, located just off Highway 82 at mile marker 13 in Carbondale, is something that the Aspen Art Museum could and should have been, but clearly is not. My best advice: Travel downvalley for a truly enriching contemporary art experience and watch your unhappy memories of the Aspen Art Museum quickly fade away.

With the surprise return of Aspen Skiing Co. and its renewed plans to build in Base Village, those of us who’ve recently vented our frustrations with Related and all its unfulfilled promises should now consider modifying our stance a bit.

Related will approach the Town Council on Aug. 18 requesting a four- to five-year extension of its vested development rights beyond their expiration in November, and in the process, they’ll propose several milestones they must achieve in order to maintain those vested rights. In reality those milestones are merely deceptive fluff, which if missed, don’t automatically end their rights.

As I’ve said before it’s best to keep a very tight leash on Related, and if given any extension now, it should be limited to not more than a year or two, allowing us a reasonable amount of time to review and approve their plans and commitments prior to granting any further extensions.

In addition, no extensions should be granted without a clear agreement that Related will furnish adequate financial security to ensure the necessary funds will be available to complete the approved buildings if Related reneges on any of its commitments again.

As to Skico’s buildings we should be open to a longer extension of vested rights up front since we’ve already seen and considered most of their plans, which have received high praise in the community. Base Village sits at the base of its most popular and successful ski mountain, thus it is already adequately incentivized to honor its commitments and complete its buildings expeditiously.

If you’re interested in the proper and timely completion of Base Village, I urge you to attend Town Council’s public hearing at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 in the Town Council chambers and offer your input to the elected representatives. This might be your last opportunity to weigh in when and where it counts.

Most of us want to see Base Village completed as quickly as possible, but clearly we’re not prepared to be left holding an empty bag once again by trusting Related without adequate financial security backing up its promises.

See you at the public hearing, or you can weigh in with your thoughts and concerns at


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