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Yesterday, Art Aspen debuted for its tenth edition. The art fair, open through July 28 at the Aspen Ice Garden, brings together presentations from around 30 galleries, showcasing the work of over 100 international artists. Highlights this year include kinetic-op work by Carlos Cruz-Diez at Sicardi Ayers Bacino Gallery, glass objects by Alex Bernstein at Raven Gallery, new pieces by emerging artist Justin Lyons at Sérvulo Esmeraldo, and an inaugural Art Commission by Adrienne Elise Tarver.
Whitewall spoke with Group Show Director Leah Steinhardt to hear more about what we can expect from this year’s Art Aspen.
WHITEWALL: This is the 10-year anniversary of Art Aspen. What does that milestone represent to you?
LEAH STEINHARDT: A tenth anniversary is always an exciting time for an organization or business. It points to “proof of concept” and says that Art Aspen has value for its exhibitors, guests, and the city. At the same time, we are young enough a company to evolve and take risks.
WW: How has the fair evolved since its first edition?
LS: Although, the fair was purchased by Clarion Events three years ago, we know that Art Aspen has always moved with the culture and is responsive in terms of the market and community. We are proud of the fair’s continued and growing integration into the Aspen community. We like to think that the fair is poised to be a dynamic melding of international and local galleries and artists.
WW: Who are the fair first-timers this year visitors should keep an eye out for?
LS: We are offering a number of fair tours led by artists and curators which give differing perspectives on the work. Although the fair is petite, the work is rich and layered. We are hoping to expose our guests to the work in a meaningful way.
WW: This year the fair is introducing its first Artist Commission with Adrienne Elise Tarver. Can you tell us about what we can expect from the site-specific project? How do you hope it will invigorate the fair’s program?
LS: We’re targeting promising emerging artists for our Art Aspen Artist Commission with hopes of introducing new talent to the surrounding community. Adrienne’s work is particularly exciting because she elegantly draws attention to the shared experiences we have with plants and the fact there is only one degree of separation between us as organisms. It is an exciting idea to contemplate. If we could see ourselves in the flora and fauna we may be inclined to do a better job taking care of the planet. I think the idea behind the work is also in direct conversation with Paula Crown’s Solo Cup sculpture, a piece that was installed at the base of Ajax mountain last summer and called attention to our responsibility as stewards of the planet.
Tarver’s hanging installation will be in the walkway between the will call and the exhibition space, so you can’t miss it. I am excited to see how visitors respond to it.
WW: How would you describe the local arts community in Aspen? How will the fair engage with that community of Aspen this year?
LS: Three words immediately come to mind when thinking about the local arts community in Aspen—dynamic, passionate, and engaged. It’s obvious that the power of art is recognized and valued in Aspen. Think about the fact that Aspen is a small city with an internationally recognized museum (Aspen Art Museum), a widely celebrated artist residency and institution (Anderson Ranch), coupled with impactful organizations like Art Base and the Aspen Institute, the palpable depth and breadth to Aspen arts and culture community is undeniable.
WW: What is your vision for the next 10 years of the fair?
LS: The funny thing is that we are a jewel box of a fair, so growing the scale of the fair isn’t a priority. We’re focused on creating greater opportunity for the discovery of notable and exciting new work. Another important aspiration is broader programming. We look forward to expanding our platform for conversations about art, design, and culture and look forward to partnering with local institutions to do so. It is important that we are relevant and committed to integrating international, national and local ideas into the dialogues we host.
WW: Outside of the fair, what do you look forward to doing/seeing in Aspen at this time of year?
LS: We have a small but really close team so we always look to do at least one hike before the fair while we are in town. I am looking forward to visiting Aspen Art Museum, Anderson Ranch, local galleries and art spaces. Having a sense of place is important to me and in my limited spare time I look forward to immersing myself in local culture.