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Aspen City Hall welcomes new creative works to its walls

 Colorful floral paintings await installation at Aspen City Hall on Wednesday, May 10.
Kaya Williams
Aspen Public Radio
Floral paintings await installation at Aspen City Hall on Wednesday, May 10. The art is part of a program that showcases Colorado artists throughout City Hall.

For all the drilling going on, Aspen City Hall sounded a little like a dentist office yesterday morning — and looked a lot like an art gallery getting ready for its next big showing.

Wednesday was installation day for about a dozen Colorado artists, all part of the second-ever cohort showing work in the government hub thanks to an art exhibition program from the city and the Red Brick Center for the Arts.

Many of their names will ring familiar to fans of the local art community: The creatives, mostly hailing from the Roaring Fork Valley, have already showcased their work in venues like the Red Brick, Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, the Art Base in Basalt and the Carbondale Arts gallery.

But they say there’s something special about showing in City Hall, which can feel more accessible than a traditional gallery.

“Sometimes galleries could be a little daunting to people who … think they don't know about art,” said Ghislaine Boreel, a Snowmass Village-based artist who was onsite for the installation of her paintings about the serenity of the outdoors.

City Hall can be less daunting in that respect, but Boreel noted it’s also a “beautiful space” in its own right. Tall windows, lots of natural light and an abundance of wall space make the new city hall rather well suited for an art exhibition. (The building by Rio Grande Park opened in 2021, a successor to the historic Armory building where the city previously conducted business.)

Leah Aegerter, a Carbondale-based artist with work in the showcase, agrees with Boreel on the accessibility front. She said she appreciates the initiative that “uplifts” local artists and creates a showing space for them “in a town where a lot of the gallery spaces are much higher end and more difficult for local artists to be shown in.”

The work can also “bring joy to a governmental space,” Agerter said at City Hall on Wednesday.

Other artists also see the way the City Hall exhibition might communicate the messages of their work with the people who need to hear it most.

Snowmass Village artist Esther Macy Nooner contributed a photograph of the Maroon Bells, minus the Bells, from a body of work she calls “Evidence and Metaphor.” She erased the scenic peaks from the picture using Clorox wipes, as a way to make people think about their impact and relationship with nature.

“There is a correlation between even politics and regulations and things like that, and landscape and preserving such spaces,” Nooner said in a phone call. “So I think that it's quite fitting that a city hall can sort of house a piece like this.”

Some artists, like Nooner, had already created their works when they applied for the City Hall showcase. Others, like Carbondale artist Brain Colley, created works specifically for the show.

Colley painted watercolor portraits of local service workers for the exhibition and worked with Red Brick executive director Sarah Roy to identify the subjects, which include a local nurse, bus driver, librarian, janitors and other municipal employees.

“It's just a chance to see the people that kind of make things happen in Aspen,” Colley said in a Zoom interview. “You might not know but they're there, and they're working hard to make the city move along day to day.”

Colley hopes the showcase at City Hall will help people open up to art and consider the workers behind the scenes in Aspen.

The currency City Hall collection also includes works by Brenda Biondo, Jessie Chaney, Emily Chaplin, Chris Erikson, Sam Harvey, Michael McConnell, Johanna Mueller, Trace Nichols and Kristin Wright, as well as a selection of Tom Benton political posters on loan from Fat City Gallery (formerly known as the Gonzo Gallery), according to the Red Brick website.

The works will be on view during regular city hall hours through April 10, 2025. A reception is slated for this August at a date to be announced.

Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.