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Image: Craig Turpin

With two galleries humming along in Chelsea and a roster of celebrated contemporary artists—Thornton Dial, Sanford Biggers, and Barnaby Furnas among them—Marianne Boesky planned a westward expansion to Aspen.

She had gotten to know the local scene as a regular visitor over the past two decades and counts many local collectors and curators as friends. Two years ago, she bought a building downtown and began plotting to open what would become Boesky West, which opened in March with a splashy show of new works by Frank Stella and Larry Bell.

“I have long been inspired by Aspen’s extreme landscape and the creativity that it has fueled among artists, musicians, writers, and so many other individuals of diverse background and interests,” Boesky said when she announced the new gallery’s opening.

The Boesky West team is planning four to five shows per year—sticking to the winter and summer high seasons—including an August exhibition by California photographer John Houck.

Boesky’s international stable of artists, as well as those represented by competing New York galleries, are eager to book openings locally. “Every artist wants to do a show in Aspen,” gallery director Kelly Woods says. “It’s a little bit less pressure than doing a show in New York. You can experiment and play more here, and they love the community aspect of it.”

Another advantage: the community that has already taken shape around Boesky West, where collectors (often greeted upstairs by Woods’s friendly labradoodle, Maggie) enjoy the laid-back mountain-town vibe.

“Literally every person who walks through the door, I get to spend time with,” says Woods. “In New York, you get five minutes. Here, you get five hours. It’s a whole other way of engaging with people. It’s more intimate and conversational—it’s a deeper interaction.”

Situated on the fringe of the downtown core, at the corner of Spring and Main streets, Boesky West is unlikely to draw the same level of passerby traffic as galleries on the pedestrian malls. But the Boesky name and the caliber of shows will motivate collectors and art lovers to seek it out. Also, it’s just two blocks from the Aspen Art Museum, with which Boesky and her team plan to partner with regularly for events and complementary shows.

The building itself offers a link to some little-known Aspen art history. The mining-era cabin attached to the two-story gallery originally belonged to a photographer named James “Horsethief” Kelly and functioned as his studio in the late 19th century. (Some of Kelly’s glass negatives are housed at the Aspen Historical Society.)

In addition to showcasing contemporary art, Boesky West is formulating plans for an offseason residency program, aimed at hosting writers and curators at the gallery in the fall and late spring. “We have this great space that’s going to be empty—somebody can use it,” explains Woods. “It’s a place for ideas, a place to think and write and live in Aspen.” marianneboeskygallery.com

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