Gray Malin hopes his art will evoke a sense of joy and escapism, and in the case of his debut Aspen series, a touch of nostalgia.
“I’m always thinking about how my work is going to look in someone’s home, and will it inspire people? Does it take them somewhere, and how is it going to make them feel?” Malin said in an interview at The Little Nell on Monday. “As I’ve grown and developed in my career, I always ask myself these questions.”
On Monday, Malin’s latest project — a glamorous, vintage portrayal of Aspen ski culture — was celebrated at the hotel, which collaborated with the famed photographer on the series.
Titled “Gray Malin in Aspen,” the throwback series features 29 images shot at iconic area locales, including the top of Aspen Mountain, Buckhorn Cabin, Cloud Nine and Lift 1A. Twelve of the photographs are framed and on display at The Little Nell through Presidents Day.
Malin, who is most often associated with his inventive aerial beach photography, attributes his passion for travel — and recreating retro vibes — to his grandparents.
Inspired by his grandparents’ photo albums documenting their world travels, Malin started styling vintage photo shoots at places like The Beverly Hills Hotel or The Breakers in Palm Beach.
Shortly after, Malin said, “I realized that people of all ages resonate with this time period: Those who lived the time period and those who are younger and enjoy the vintage look and feel.
“I’m really thrilled that, even from the beginning of my career, to this project I’m releasing [in Aspen], that same spirit still lives through — that my work makes you feel a certain way.”
At the unveiling on Monday, The Little Nell general manager Jonathan Fillman said a guest already asked him where the hotel found vintage ski photos like the ones framed throughout the living room and lobby. Several hotel guests have posed similar inquiries throughout the week, Fillman said Friday.
“If I can fool you, I’ve done my work,” Malin quipped. “The production of this photo shoot was unlike any other project I’ve worked on.” (See graphic for a “By the numbers” look at what the photo shoot entailed).
The Aspen project was also “by far, the fastest turnaround I’ve ever done for a shoot,” Malin said. While most of his projects will debut eight months following the photo shoot, “Gray Malin in Aspen” was shot in December and released about a month later.
The three-and-a-half-day production was also largely a local effort, from the stylist, hair and makeup artists and many of the models, to the dogs and vintage cars. Many of the old school threads, as well as the skis, sleds and toboggans, were also sourced from Vintage Ski World in Carbondale.
At the party Monday, Malin expressed his gratitude to the local community for its involvement and support. “I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart; thank you so much to everyone here, and in this town, who helped believe in me and make this happen.”