Creativity & Style in Aspen, Colorado

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Home > Colorado > Colorado Cities > Aspen > Culture > Creativity & Style    [ bookmark this page ]

Page Title: Creativity & Style in Aspen, Colorado
Page Synopsis: An overview of Aspen, Colorado's creativity and style.

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Creativity & Style at its Peak

A Thriving Community of Artists, Architects, and Designers Carries on Aspen’s Rich Creative Legacy

Aspen has long been a hotbed of creative activity. In the 1950s, Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke spearheaded Aspen’s cultural rebirth. Bauhaus icon Herbert Bayer was Paepcke’s right-hand man, helping to found the International Design Conference in Aspen while infusing his ideas about art, architecture, and design into the campus of the Aspen Institute and the town at large.

In the ’60s, Aspen was home to the little known but significant Aspen Center for Contemporary Art, the brainchild of renowned art collector John Powers. For five summers, Powers, the retired president of a New York publishing house, opened downtown Aspen’s Brand Building to some of the most important figures in the art world at the time—today’s contemporary art giants. Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Christo, and James Rosenquist were only a few of the legendary artists who found freedom and inspiration in Aspen.

Today, Aspen’s tradition of creativity lives on through organizations such as the famed Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass as well as through innovative individuals—artists, designers, and Aspen’s plethora of forward-thinking architects.

A Modern-Day Artists’ Colony  

·     Anderson Ranch Arts Center. This nonprofit, year-round visual arts community has workshops, artist residencies, exhibitions, travel expeditions, tours, lectures, and more for artists of all skill levels. Its artists-in-residence and faculty are distinguished artists in a wide variety of fields, from printmaking to digital art. And it all takes place on a historic Snowmass ranch that’s been transformed into a serene, inspirational campus. (; 970.923.3181)

·     Local Artists. Embracing art and creativity has its consequences: a constant bumper crop of local artists. Aspen is chock-full of its own, unique breed of multi-talented locals, from ski instructor-painters Kim MacDonald and Tania Dibbs to fly fisherwoman-painter Judy Haas to outdoorsman, photographer, and installation artist Derek Johnston. 

·     Photographers and Filmmakers.  Famed photographer Franz Berko was lured to Aspen by Walter Paepcke for the Goethe Bicentennial. And, in 1951, Berko put on the historic First Photo Conference, which was attended by the stars of photography of that era, including Ansel Adams, Minor White, Dorothea Lange, Eliot Porter, Herbert Bayer, and Fritz Kaeser.

Since then, Aspen has been a haven for photographers. In the late ‘60s and ‘70s, Aspen was home to the Center of the Eye photography school. Today, Aspen is also home to many photographers and filmmakers. Famed photographers who call Aspen home include Chris Ranier, David Hiser, Jeffrey Aaronson and Alan Becker. Filmmakers like Aspen Adventure Productions have attracted dozens of award-winning producers, cameramen and editors to the Aspen area. 

Designing the Future

·     International Design Conference at Aspen. Originally an offshoot of the fledgling Aspen Institute, this event, established in 1950, brings together many of the world’s top trailblazers in design for lectures, panel discussions, workshops, film presentations, and more, all based on a changing annual theme in late August. (; 970.925.2257)

Local Designers

Aspen’s location in the Rockies gives local designers the perfect inspiration to create (among other things) better outdoor products. Aspen’s own Ajax Design firm, led by Art Burrows, has received international recognition for its graphic, environmental, Web, packaging, and product design—including equipment for Black Diamond and Scarpa backcountry ski gear companies (970.925.3155). Comfort Products, Inc., an innovative local firm with Mark Joseph and Erik Giese at the helm, specializes in designing high-tech footwear, such as ski boots, as well as high-tech lighting—for an international roster of corporate clients. (970.925.5100)

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