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Aspen Art Museum to be the sole venue for Warhol exhibition

The Aspen Art Museum will be the sole venue in the U.S. for a unique Andy Warhol exhibition this winter, which will focus on the biographical underpinnings of the artist’s practice and expanding on lesser-known aspects of his work and persona.

The announcement comes on the same day of the museum’s annual fundraiser ArtCrush and Warhol’s date of birth, Aug. 6.

Warhol, who died in 1987, has Aspen connections dating back to 1966 when he came to present his work at the Aspen Institute. That same year, he designed and edited the third issue of Aspen Magazine (1965-71), creating a deconstructed multimedia magazine-in-a-box.

He skied Buttermilk, partied at the old Andre’s nightclub and had his work featured the Aspen Center for the Visual Arts, the precursor to the Aspen Art Museum, in an inaugural exhibition in 1979 and was the subject of a solo show in 1984, which was Colorado’s last museum exhibition of Warhol’s work.

Opening on Dec. 3, “Andy Warhol: Lifetimes” will run through March 27, and will break new ground by casting a queer eye on the artist as an outsider and disruptor, who remade America’s image to resonate with a queer sensibility, according to a press release announcing the exhibit.

Some of the works come from Warhol’s Ladies & Gentlemen series, his Sex Parts and Torsos series, and those that feature Warhol in drag, along with lesser known videos, and pieces that focus on his mother Julia Warhola, and his multimedia room, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

It’s a major international retrospective of Warhol’s work that will only be seen in Aspen.

Informed by the vernacular of celebrity, driven by consumerism, and bound together by new forms of media, Warhol’s four decades of work tapped into a culture fundamentally affixed to images and aspiration.

Organized thematically as an encounter with Warhol’s career over his lifetime, the exhibition includes more than 200 works, juxtaposing the eras to propose connections among divergent bodies of work and gain insight into Warhol’s concerns, according to the release.

“The Aspen Art Museum is delighted to present this intimate portrayal of Andy Warhol, which peers into the spectral persona that the artist created to transcend his personal limitations, generating a cultural myth, mirror, and decoder that has enchanted the modern world for decades,” said Nicola Lees, Nancy and Bob Magoon Director of the Aspen Art Museum, in the release. “By presenting his canonical works alongside archival and direct source materials, the exhibition will give viewers an unprecedented opportunity to examine Warhol’s life as parallel to his work, ultimately establishing a new appreciation for this visionary artist of incomparable importance.”

The AAM invited artist Monica Majoli to re-conceptualize the staging of the exhibition, as envisioned by previous iterations.

“Everyone has their own vision of Andy Warhol, an elusive figure who is virtually synonymous with American popular culture of the late 20th century,” she said in a prepared statement. “Even after his untimely passing in 1987, Warhol continues to inform our contemporary moment through his prescient, uncanny grasp of the drama and consequences of capitalism in the American psyche.”

The exhibition is organized by Tate Modern, London in collaboration with Museum Ludwig, Cologne and Aspen Art Museum and the Art Gallery of Toronto, Ontario.

To highlight Warhol’s close connection to the Aspen region and the museum itself, the AAM will supplement the exhibit through a custom magazine published in partnership with Frieze.

The AAM also will partner with The Powers Art Center in Carbondale, which is a memorial to the life of influential collector John G. Powers, a former Aspen resident who became a longtime friend of Warhol in the early 1960s, as well as a patron and collector of Warhol’s work. The complementary presentation of Warhol’s work from the Powers Art Center’s collection will highlight social connections between the two, including works and memorabilia from the Powers’ private collection.

 

Mountain Fair at 50: Toasting five decades of arts, fun and music


One can visit the Carbondale Mountain Fair for a couple of hours on the last weekend in July and get a sense of what the unique gathering of townsfolk and visitors is all about.

Or one can literally “do” Mountain Fair for the better part of the three-day festival and play their own little part in the big show.

It’s that latter group of longtime locals, and former residents who make the annual pilgrimage back each summer and traveling vagabonds, that have helped define the spirit of the fair for 50 years.

“I think what is different here is that there is a spirit that you don’t find at any other fair,” longtime Mountain Fair and Carbondale Arts director Amy Kimberly said this week amid preparations for the big event.

“It is the community celebration, where people come together and kind of create this special space for the weekend,” she said.

Mountain Fair celebrates its golden anniversary the weekend of July 23-25 in and around Carbondale’s Sopris Park.

Carbondale Arts, which organizes the event and serves as its primary beneficiary, has already been gearing up for the celebration for weeks.

A collection of 50 years of Mountain Fair memorabilia — ranging from the many iconic Mountain Fair T-shirts and other collector’s items to newspaper articles documenting the annual event — is on display at the R2 Gallery at the Launchpad on Fourth Street in downtown Carbondale telling the story of its vibrant history.

Also this summer community radio station KDNK presented a series of podcasts reflecting on five decades of the Mountain Fair.

Laurie Loeb is considered the “Mother of Mountain Fair,” having brought a traveling artists’ chautauqua to Carbondale in 1971, which ultimately evolved into Mountain Fair.

Loeb, in the first KDNK segment that aired June 29, described the fair as a coming together of the many different types of people who inhabited the small town at that time, from the hippie newcomers to the old-timer ranchers and hard-edged miners who had been in Carbondale for many years.

“The essence of the fair has not changed, in my opinion; that feel-good, positive energy of people getting along together despite any differences,” she said. “That still remains, and that’s the heart of the whole thing. … It is a celebration of life.”

The radio series features numerous longtime locals who’ve come and gone, and even old interviews with people who have since died, talking about the uniqueness of Mountain Fair through the decades.

The series can be found at KDNK.org.

MOUNTAIN MEMORIES

Camp Bonedale was the place to be in the middle days of Carbondale Mountain Fair. This relic is on display as part of the Launchpad R2 Gallery exhibit.

Among the voices is longtime local videographer Terry Glasenapp, who was asked by former fair director, the late Thomas Lawley, to document Mountain Fair through film and into the early days of digital video from the late 1980s through 2003.

“I would be there all weekend long with my camera nonstop,” Glasenapp said, describing his early shoulder-held VCR and Beta recorders.

He also collected boxes and boxes of local newspaper clippings and other memorabilia that are part of the R2 exhibit.

“I never realized how those newspaper articles and photos really captured the story until I started going through them,” he said.

Glasenapp attended the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 and came to Carbondale in 1976. He said Mountain Fair has always had that same sort of free and open-to-all spirit.

“What it is about Carbondale Mountain Fair is that it’s open to everybody, all ages, all sizes and all colors, across all spectrum of people,” Glasenapp said. “It’s also the hundreds of volunteers who put their hearts into it and help make it a free event.”

Today, his own grandchildren enjoy the drum circle and the wide array of children’s activities that the fair offers.

He remembers one special musical moment shortly after he began filming the fair when John McEuen of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame was playing and sang the folk anthem “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” A member of the local band Sirens of Swing at the time, Elva McDowell, wrote an extra verse to the song talking about “Colorado Mountain people” that was sung that night for the first and probably the only time ever.

Another time in the early 1990s McDowell and the Sirens were singing the 1960s classic “White Bird,” toward the end of which a white dove was released from beside the stage and swooped over the crowd before flying off toward Mount Sopris, he recalled.

LIKE A PHOENIX

When the world shut down last year due to the global pandemic, including festivals across the country, Mountain Fair plugged along in its own special way.

Rather than a big gathering in the town park, organizers took it to the streets with a traveling stage carrying local bands to the people outside their houses, and a mini arts booth showcase with a limited number of people allowed in at a time.

“We wanted to make sure we had a 49th Mountain Fair so we could have a 50th this year,” Kimberly said.

“Last year turned out to be an incredible experience, as nerve-racking as it was going into it. But the traveling band wagon was so well-received that we’re actually doing it again this year,” she said.

There may be some lasting benefit to some of what had to be done last summer in the way of social distancing that could improve Mountain Fair in future years.

Instead of packing all of the arts and crafts and food vendors into Sopris Park this year, as had been the practice in the past, they are being spread out this year to include side streets and parts of downtown Carbondale.

“Maybe that’s something that we need to look at anyway,” Kimberly said, noting the fair has kind of outgrown Sopris Park over the years. “We don’t know, but this is giving us an opportunity to try some new configurations and see what involving the downtown a little more will feel like. We’re hoping that people feel comfortable when they come to the fair, and not as crowded.”

That’s not at all to say people can’t socialize, she said.

“Our saying this year is, ‘From one year of social distancing to 50 years of socializing.’ That’s a huge part of the Mountain Fair,” Kimberly said.

On the main stage, the 50th Mountain Fair will also feature some of the more famous bands from past years, including Saturday and Sunday closers, respectively, The Motet and Band of Heathens.

A grand artistic procession from downtown to Sopris Park is set to kicks things off at 3:30 p.m. Friday, July 23, followed by the traditional drum circle led by Loeb to start the festivities.

The Friday night music lineup includes the return of several past Mountain Fair performers in the form of Tierro Band with Bridget Law, featuring founding members of Elephant Revival, Kan’Nal and Jyemo Club.

A retro slide show is set to close out the show on Friday night.

Saturday and Sunday bring the traditional competitions that are a big part of the fair, including wood splitting for both men and women, the 14-mile Sopris Runoff foot race, limbo contests for adults and kids, and pie and cake judging.

A throwback to years past will also be a tug-of-war competition between the Carbondale police and fire departments.

NEWCOMER’S PERSPECTIVE

The winning 50th Carbondale Mountain Fair poster and T-shirt design by Larry Day.

It’s notable that this year’s Mountain Fair poster and t-shirt design winner is a relative newcomer to town, sketch artist Larry Day, who captured the essence of Mountain Fair with several magical strokes of the pencil.

Day admitted his first Mountain Fair was just a few years ago. What struck him was the “chaos,” as he first described it.

“Maybe that’s not the best way to say it, but the one thing I really noticed being an outsider coming here from Chicago is that there was just a lot going on,” Day said. “Mountain Fair just seems to have its own voice.”

So when he decided to submit a concept for the 50th anniversary poster and T-shirt design, he settled on a scene depicting a couple seeking out a little peace and solitude in the middle of Sopris Park, surrounded by this grand festival of dancers, drummers, musicians of all sorts, circus-style performers, ax-wielding wood choppers … everything Mountain Fair encompasses, including Loeb in the image of an octopus leading the drum circle.

And not just people, but animals, too — which is curious because pets are not allowed in the park.

“It’s just this mix of chaos and humor that I thought captured the spirit,” Day said. “Even though I’d only been there once, I just took it all in and observed a lot of what the fair is all about.”

jstroud@postindependent.com.

IF YOU GO …

What: Carbondale Mountain Fair

Where: Sopris Park, Carbondale

When: Friday, July 23 through Sunday, July 25

How much: Free

Details: Full lineup of musical acts, contests, competitions, artists, food vendors at carbondalearts.com