An Alfresco Gallery for Our Times
It’s no small feat to mount an outdoor sculpture exhibition, let alone conceive and install it in a little more than a month. But that’s exactly what Anderson Ranch Arts Center did last summer in erecting a mini–Storm King (the celebrated upstate New York outdoor museum) on its five-acre campus in Snowmass Village. Through next September, a group of 17 monumental contemporary sculptures makes up this alfresco gallery for our times. The biggest benefit: it’s provided a way for art enthusiasts to stay engaged with the Ranch as the pandemic severely impacted the schedule of workshops, residencies, lectures, and shows.
“The exhibition exceeded our expectations in every regard,” says Anderson Ranch president and CEO Peter Waanders. “Probably a thousand people came through last summer to see it.”
Among the works on display, a couple—such as Richard Lapedes’s brass-and-steel Time Flies, a somewhat ethereal piece that eschews traditional fasteners and welding—were born out of Ranch workshops. Others, like Ghada Amer’s six-foot-deep Love Grave and Sanford Biggers’s immersive video installation BAM (for Michael), had already garnered international attention. And a few, such as Enrique Martínez Celaya’s The Savior—a bronze deer pulling a sled full of mountains cast in topographical relief—already lived at the Ranch.
Exhibition curator Lissa Ballinger (who also works with the Aspen Institute and the Art Base in Basalt), VP of Artistic Affairs Andrea Wallace, and Waanders carefully considered the placement of each piece among the property’s rustic log cabins and barns. This in itself led to some interesting juxtapositions. John Clement’s Love Exists, a bright-yellow dynamic coil that seems as if it could spring open at any moment, sits in front of one of the campus’s oldest buildings. James Surls’s Three Worlds, Seven Rings—a frenzy of stainless-steel arcs, balls, and circles—plays off the rigid, straight lines of the barn just beyond. To view Biggers’s provocative work (one patron at a time), you open a door into an intimate log and wood-shingled vestibule, only to be aurally assaulted by the sound of gunshots.
Most of the sculptures are for sale, with proceeds benefiting both the artists and the Ranch. And as for pulling off the exhibition in that insanely short time frame, the credit goes largely to the creators themselves, says Ballinger: “It’s a testament to how much the artists love Anderson Ranch.”
The ranch is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; pick up an exhibit guide outside the welcome center, andersonranch.org.
Drawing on his background building terrain parks at mountain resorts and helping his father build ski lifts, artist Griffin Loop sculpts massive works out of metal. They’re displayed at sites in Southern California; Bentonville, Arkansas; Powder Mountain, Utah; Portland, Oregon; and, for the foreseeable future, Aspen.
For three days in summer 2019, Loop’s 25-foot stainless-steel replica of a paper airplane landed in Paepcke Park for a successful mini-exhibit. As of last fall, a similar piece, one of a series that Loop calls Launch Intention, has had a prime spot outside the building that houses the Red Brick Center for the Arts, which collaborated on the installation.
Ironically, Loop didn’t know how to fold a paper airplane when he conceived the series, which was inspired by childhood’s freedom and imagination. Now, he says, he’s folded thousands, as activations around the sculptures have invited viewers to write down an intention, fold the piece of paper into a plane, and throw it aloft. (Pandemic participation is now at launchintention.com.)
For once, a private plane that everyone can fly.