There are many residents of Aspen who came for the skiing, but stayed for the culture. There are so many cultural institutions, galleries and museums, that it is as if a block of Manhattan were dropped on the valley floor of our enchanting mountain town.

Without even delving into the chic designer storefronts, the exquisite dining, or the charming turn-of-the-century Victorian architecture, you can easily find yourself on a cultural crusade throughout Aspen as well as nearby Snowmass Village. The best part? Many of the outstanding arts institutions can be enjoyed for free.

Here is a quick rundown of the Aspen and Snowmass arts scene that you can enjoy without spending a dime.

Aspen Art Museum (AAM)

Aspen Art Museum, Aspen
Aspen Art Museum, Aspen

Start at the Museum’s roof-deck sculpture garden on the top floor. This was the intention of Pritzker-prize winning architect, Shigeru Ban, who drew inspiration from the way skiers start at the top of a mountain before skiing down. Enjoy a cultural après ski with art, wine, cheese and a stunning backdrop of Aspen Mountain at the SO cafe, then work your way down the four levels to view the evolutions in contemporary art in each of the galleries. A non-collecting institution, the AAM celebrates 5 years in the current building and 40 years as an institution in 2019.

Admission Price: Free

Hot tips: SO Café presents half-off après-ski refreshments including: coffee, locally crafted beers, and wine Tuesday–Friday, 3–4 PM. Free, drop-in spotlight tours led by museum staff are offered every Wednesday and Saturday at 1PM.

Red Brick Center for the Arts

Red Brick Center for the Arts
Red Brick Center for the Arts

This center houses 14 resident artist studios, an art classroom, a dance studio, a gallery, as well as offices for ten local nonprofits including Theatre Aspen, Aspen Film and Aspen Public Radio. Experience a revolving exhibit of art in the gallery hallway that runs the length of the red-bricked building. Take an art class, sit in on a lecture, or engage with an artist or jeweler in an open-door studio. The Red Brick’s belief is that through interaction, collaboration and creativity, a community can thrive.

Admission Price: Free

Hot Tip: At the end of June, Aspen Public Radio throws a fun lawn party, featuring a live remote of the popular radio program 1A.

Aspen Institute – Art & Walking Tours

Aspen Institute Aspen Snowmass
Aspen Institute Aspen Snowmass

The Aspen Institute promotes intellectual curiosity and has a stellar reputation for drawing many of the world’s brightest minds to its events and symposiums. The institute also offers the a handful of guided Bauhaus-centric walking tours led by the charismatic Curator and Art Registrar Lissa Ballinger, as well as local politico and landscape architect Ann Mullins. Or just take a self-guided gallery tour through the Aspen Institute’s Resnick Gallery for a retrospective exhibit on Herbert Bayer’s multimedia artwork.

Admission Price: Tours are free and open to the public

Hot tip: Catch one of Lissa Ballinger’s tours at the Aspen Institute campus. You won’t regret the fun facts and unique Aspen cultural history she will reveal.

BAUHAUS 100 ASPEN EVENTS

Bauhaus at Elk Camp
Bauhaus at Elk Camp

This winter, Aspen celebrates 100 years of the Bauhaus art movement with a valley-wide celebration. Several organizations are presenting events that are aligned with their institutional mission as it relates to Bauhaus.

Admission Price: Free events from January to August 2019

Hot Tip: Don’t miss the Bauhaus Ball on June 6 from 5 - 10PM at the Wheeler Opera House, described as “a whimsical, playful, spirited experience that is reminiscent of the creative fêtes of the Bauhaus.” The ball will feature variety-show events. Costumes wildly encouraged.

Anderson Ranch

Anderson Ranch, Aspen Snowmass
Anderson Ranch, Aspen Snowmass

The Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village demonstrates the extent to which this valley loves the arts. The campus includes 14 converted ranch buildings with numerous workshops throughout the year, guest lectures, artist studios and exhibitions. Guests can tour the center and visit with artists in residence.

Admission Price: FREE

Hot Tip: Visit the Ranch in the summer and stay for lunch with the artists — or even livelier are the lunchtime auctionettes ($15) on Fridays. The cafe serves tasty food at a reasonable price.

Art in Unexpected Places

Art in Unexpected Places
Art in Unexpected Places

Art is all around you when you visit Aspen Snowmass. Heading up the gondola? Take a look at your lift ticket: it features new art from a prominent artist each season. But beyond that, Aspen Snowmass has promoted significant art installations around the resort. In the winter of 2010, renowned artist Walter Niedermayr was commissioned by Aspen Skiing Company to photograph the four mountains of Aspen Snowmass for a unique multi-site exhibition of large-scale images entitled The Aspen Series. In 2013 Niedermayr returned to photograph the same locations — but this time in the summer. The photographs — in large-format diptychs, triptychs and even one octaptych (eight-piece panel) — are featured at ticket offices, on-mountain restaurants, the lobbies of The Little Nell and the Limelight Hotel Aspen, as well as venues and locations throughout Aspen Snowmass. And in 2019, to pay homage to the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus art movement, the Aspen Institute loaned a colorful, geometric styled tapestry — hand-fabricated by Herbert Bayer, a founder of the Bauhaus movement — to adorn the wall of the Elk Camp restaurant mid-mountain on Snowmass.

Admission Price: Free

Hot Tip: See how many recurring skiers, snowboarders or people you can find in Niedermayr’s works.

About the Author

Lea Tucker
Lea Tucker

LEA TUCKER

Prior to launching her own creative firm, Lea Tucker earned her chops managing international public relations for the Aspen Skiing Company for 9 years. When she’s not building creative communication campaigns for her clients, Lea can be found playing in the great outdoors: skiing, hiking, camping and en plein air watercolor painting. Lea is also a wildflower identifier, gourmet-backpacking chef, beachcomber, reader and writer.

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