Soon after arriving in the ski resort town,
Aspen Art Museum Director and Chief Curator Heidi Zuckerman noticed the ubiquitous presence of the Aspen Skiing Company’s rectangular lift tickets.
These utilitarian objects immediately registered as potential picture planes, and she approached the ski company with a proposal for a unique collaboration:
to invite artists to create the passes for each ski season. With the contributions of Mike Kaplan, ASC President
ART IN UNEXPECTED and CEO, and art patrons Paula and Jim Crown, the intention was “to provide a canvas for artists and their creative intervention.”
From its inception in 2005, the partnership has worked with some of the most renowned contemporary artists and featured passes
by (in chronological order) Yutaka Sone, Peter Doig, Karen Kilimnik, Jim Hodges, Carla Klein,
Mamma Andersson, Mark Grotjahn, David Shrigley, Mark Bradford, and Anne Collier.
Takashi Murakami designed the most recent edition for the 2015–16 season.
And although the lift tickets were the impetus, the program quickly began to expand;
the collaborations evolved into various projects as diverse as installations and performances by artists Mark Wallinger,
Lars Ø. Ramberg, Susan Philipsz, Dave Muller, Teresita Fernandez, Cai Guo-Qiang, and Shinique Smith with workshops by Walter Niedermayr as well as a film by Jennifer West.
I attended the reception for Dave Muller’s in-situ piece entitled Aspen Skiing Company Music Survey Results
ART IN UNEXPECTED and Generated Topography (The Hills Are Alive), at Elk Camp Restaurant on Snowmass Mountain.
It was fascinating to meet many of the individuals who participated in the study—their presence seemed to complete the commissioned work with anecdotes about the artist’s process and methodology.
In 2010, the five-year history of the program was documented in an eponymous book with featured texts by Michael Miracle
ART IN UNEXPECTED and Terry R. Myers, and included a conversation with Heidi Zuckerman and Mike Kaplan.
Celebrating its tenth year with a second volume, the partnership has also produced a series of photographs and interviews to describe the work of each participating artist.
The Crowns contributed the introduction for both editions, stating “We thought of this as a small social movement: instead of Stand UP, Look UP, or Man UP, we wanted people to ARTUP.”
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