Mixed Media

Behind-the-Scenes with the Aspen Art Museum's Winter Slate

Five exhibits encourage introspection and reflection, as well as contemplation of the natural elements around us.

By Carolyn Sackariason November 18, 2017 Published in the Holiday 2017 issue of Aspen Sojourner

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Zoe Crosher, LA-LIKE: Prospecting Palm Fronds (Finch & Hollydale), 2015. Unique bronze cast, 13 x 60 x 12 inches.

Zoe Crosher: Prospecting Palm Fronds
Dec 15, 2017–May 13, 2018

The work: Take a symbolic walking tour through Los Angeles on the museum’s rooftop deck, where the placement of 15 bronzed palm fronds mimics where they fell from the city’s iconic trees.

The inspiration: Crosher collected the fronds after learning that the trees, nearing the end of their lives, wouldn’t be replaced. Says Aspen Art Museum CEO and director Heidi Zuckerman, “We’re looking for that pause [from the viewer] because fronds are recognizable but don’t belong here.”

Behind-the-scenes: Crosher named each frond after the intersection where it was discovered, so the work creates both a map of LA and a physical archive of its history.

Dara Friedman: Mother Drum
Dec 15, 2017–May 13, 2018

The work: View Friedman’s footage of visits to three Native American powwows in the western United States, where she discovered the transcendent power of music and dance.

The inspiration: An archaeological dig in Miami, Friedman’s home, unearthed ancient remains from the Tequesta tribe, piquing the artist’s curiosity about Native American history and traditions.

Behind-the-scenes: During editing, Friedman intercut images of the dancers, who performed just for her camera, with fields of bright color to create an impressionistic effect.

An untitled installation conceived by Robert Gober
Dec 15, 2017–May 13, 2018

The work: Contemplate notions of utopia as expressed through this grouping of pieces from Albert Bierstadt, Meg Webster, Richard Prince, and Robert Gober (who also curated it).

The inspiration: The idea that things aren’t always as they seem.

Behind-the-scenes: A brilliant sculptor, Gober has a side practice of curating exhibits; this one was originally shown as part of a larger 1988 exhibition in Boston.

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Nate Lowman, Scent of a Woman, 2012. Oil and alkyd on canvas, 54 x 33 inches. 

Nate Lowman
Dec 15, 2017–June 10, 2018

The work: Interpret pop culture through off-kilter paintings and sculptures that draw on appropriated relics like air fresheners, hearts, pizza, and public icons such as O. J. Simpson and Marilyn Monroe.

The inspiration: Exposing pop culture’s seedy underbelly. “The truth of humanity, romantic interaction, celebrity, and commodity is often more glaring and harsh than we want to see,” says Zuckerman. 

Behind-the-scenes: Lowman’s signature image is a painted smiley face. 

Thomas Struth
Jan 19–June 10, 2018

The work: Tune into the complexities of two very different—yet similar—Middle East locales, Israel and Palestine, through these 18 large-scale photographs, exhibited all together for the first time.

The inspiration: During frequent trips to the region from 2009 to 2014, Struth experienced working in a conflict zone. Moral and ethical questions are impossible to avoid when looking at the resultant images, he says.

Behind-the-scenes: For this series, Struth, known for photographing portraits and landscapes, homed in on how a place’s geography and political climate serve as, he says, a “container for the scope of the human condition.”


Aspen Art Museum
637 E. Hyman Ave.


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