An ice rink and a contemporary art fair make for unlikely bed fellows, but with ArtAspen utterly transforming the Aspen Ice Garden into a veritable showcase of world-class art for the fourth straight year, doubters can naysay no more.
The weekend of events, running through Sunday, Aug. 4, will showcase 1,000 important, contemporary and post-war art works by 200 respected artists, presented by more than 25 prominent galleries across the country (and even a few from around the world), totaling more than $50 million in art. The show will feature works starting as low as $2,000 into the millions.
Billed as “America’s ultimate boutique fair” by Hamptons Expo Group President Rick Friedman — who also puts on the Palm Springs Art Fair, ArtHamptons and the Houston Fine Art Fair — ArtAspen is the only contemporary art show in the U.S. in August. Not coincidentally, the event occurs over the same weekend as ArtCrush, the Aspen Art Museum’s largest annual fundraiser.
“I think we’re really establishing the event as one of the cultural highlights of the Aspen summer season,” says Freidman. “But our ultimate goal is to make the event a required stop on the calendar of globetrotting art collectors.”
Last year’s event attracted more than 2,500 visitors while generating millions of dollars in art sales, according to Friedman. This August, he expects more than 3,000 art enthusiasts throughout the weekend of events, which kicked off with an opening night benefit preview on Thursday co-hosted by Aspen Magazine to support the Paepcke Gallery at the Aspen Institute.
Today, Friday, Aug. 2, Aspen Peak will co-host two events at the space. The first, from 2-3 p.m. and entitled “A Passion for Possession,” will feature several of Aspen’s revered art collectors — including Mel and Lee Eagle, Ann Cook and Ann Korologos — telling the remarkable tales of landing their most prized art treasures, and the ones that got away. Then from 5-7 p.m., Aspen Peak will host “Peak with a View,” a fund-raiser for the Aspen Community School’s “I Believe in Art” program, where fairgoers will embark on an inspirational artistic journey through the fair led by some of Aspen’s most respected local artists.
On Saturday, Aug. 3, from 1-2 p.m., Aspen Sojourner will host “Curators in the Community,” where a panelist of esteemed curators — including William Morrow of the Denver Art Museum, Janet Dees of SITE Santa Fe, David Dadane of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, and Dean Sobel of the Clyfford Still Museum — will discuss their role in educating, collaborating and leading, as well as developing an audience and donors for their museums. From 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Aspen Sojourner will host “Art Saturday Night,” a charity event for the Aspen Educational Foundation, which has raised more than $6 million for local school programs.
Finally on Sunday, Aug. 4, ArtAspen will host “How to Build a Valuable Art Collection” from 1-2 p.m., featuring Vincent Vallarino of Vallarino Fine Art in New York, Timothy Hill of the Hill Gallery in Michigan, William Morrow of the Denver Art Museum, and Janet Dees of SITE Santa Fe.
“All of the events really enhance what we’re already doing with the art showcase,” says Friedman. “It gives a lot of insight into collecting art and the different types of contemporary art that exist today. These galleries are from Miami and NYC, Texas and Seattle, and the Southeast, so participants really get to see different flavors of art from around the whole country.”
Unlike some of the other fairs hosted by Hamptons Expo Group, ArtAspen is a much smaller event. And that, says Friedman, is in keeping with the Aspen brand.
“People want the best of the best here, and not just a sampling of everything,” he says.
And even if visitors and locals don’t plan on being part of the roughly $4 million in sales that ArtAspen is supposed to pull in this weekend, it might just be the best exhibition of art you see all year.
At the Aspen Ice Garden
Hyman Ave. at First Street
Friday, Aug. 2, 5-9 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 3, Noon-7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 4, Noon-6 p.m.
Cost: $25, Children
under 16 are free