Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
The city of Aspen, CO has undergone serious transformations since its founding in the late 19th century. What was once a small silver mining town, has transformed into a place to experience remarkable cultural offerings. It is an incubator for progressive ideas and conversations. With a world-class array of museums, galleries, and unbeatable recreation infrastructure, Aspen continues to remind the world that this is a truly special and singular place.
This amalgamation of ideas and progressive thought is demonstrated through the work done by Anderson Ranch, a remarkable residency program that has been around for more than 50 years. With a focus on interdisciplinary artistic practices, inclusion, and experimentation, Anderson Ranch has provided a remarkable space for world-class artists to work, experience nature, and learn from each other within a site that is truly spectacular and inspiring.
Every year, the Ranch puts on an event, “Recognition Week,” that celebrates creativity and service to the arts by applauding the accomplishments of key figures in the art world. This year, Christian Marclay has been named the International Artist Honoree, and Dana Farouki as the Service to the Arts Honoree.
Ahead of the event, we spoke with Philae Knight, the chair of this year’s auction committee, who helped organize its annual benefit event, exclusively showcasing ceramic works by an incredible mix of artists. She spoke with Whitewall about what makes this decades-old organization so unique.
WHITEWALL: How was pulling together this year's auction for Anderson Ranch's annual Recognition Week?
PHILAE KNIGHT: It was exciting to connect the lineage of clay-making at the Ranch with current contemporary artists. This is at the heart of its founders, and we were very fortunate to hand-pick from such a high-quality group of artists.
WW: It's amazing that all the works donated are ceramic works made by an impressive mix of contemporary artists. Can you talk about the decision to try and make this happen?
PK: It came about to distinguish our auction and organization from any other fundraisers happening in the art world. With such a specific focus, and the relationship between clay and nature, it seemed like an ideal medium to amplify here in Snowmass. Paul Soldner was the founder and brought distinguished clay artists from California in the 1960s to a small group of cabins in Colorado, which at the time was groundbreaking. And probably really fun for all!
WW: What do you see as some of the most important benefits of an art auction as a fundraising endeavor for a non-profit organization?
PK: While we recognize the large undertaking for artists to give their work and its impact, it has become essential to fundraising for future programming and scholarships. Ceramics as a medium engenders a strong sense of community, with an enormous amount of generosity and spirit. We are beyond grateful to the donors.
WW: The history of ceramics at the Ranch is a special one. Can you talk about the importance of this discipline in the Ranch's history?
PK: It seems over the recent years there has been a nod, a recognition towards, the early contemporary clay makers from the 1960s and ‘70s. They all came to the Ranch and include, as previously mentioned, Paul Soldner, Peter Voulkos, and Brad Miller, to name a few. As an art collecting category, ceramics has seen lots of growth in the last five years. You’ll notice in this particular auction more than half the group are female and are renowned in this category. Arlene Shechet is leading our group of female artists and for the younger generation is somewhat of a hero. Among that list is Bari Ziperstein, Katie Stout, Kathy Ruttenberg, Yukiko Kuroda, and Erin Jane Nelson—and many of them have worked in our studios.
WW: What do you think makes Anderson Ranch stand out from all the artist residencies around the country?
PK: The landscape. Our unique, eclectic mix of old and new architecture defines a modern regional style of bridging traditional cabins with light and space, designed by local architect Harry Teague. And most importantly our rustic, yet state-of-the-art studios and the ability for Residents to interact in whatever medium they wish – whether it be 3d printing, painting, printmaking, woodworking, or ceramics.
WW: How would you describe or summarize what Anderson Ranch is like to someone who has never visited?
PK: Come visit! The campus is open year-round and we’d love to have you for lunch and a tour. It’s a beautiful spot; fresh air, sunny days, a patch of heaven, really.
WW: Can you tell us about a work you are most excited about?
PK: That’s a hard question! If I had a Ranch and a meadow, I’d steal the Jun Kaneko, but honestly they’re all great works.