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Anderson Ranch’s Recognition Week honors major contemporary artist, dedicated patrons of the arts

Courtesy Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Anderson Ranch Arts Center will bestow two annual awards at a “Recognition Dinner” in Snowmass Village this Thursday, honoring two dedicated patrons of the arts and a major contemporary artist. The gala dinner is part of the ranch’s annual “Recognition Week,” which also includes public lectures with the honorees and a beloved community picnic; some programming, including live and silent art auctions, will also function as a fundraiser for the creative hub.

A preview of the live art auction — doubling as a public exhibition — opened Monday and will remain up through Thursday at the ranch’s Patton-Mallot Gallery. The show, titled “Exquisite Curiosities,” focuses on mixed-media sculptures.

The formal programming begins Tuesday with a conversation featuring International Artist Honoree Charles Gaines. The award recognizes “globally-recognized artists who demonstrate the highest level of artistic achievement and whose careers have fundamentally influenced contemporary art,” according to the ranch.

Gaines, whose work is often associated with the conceptual art movement, is a visual artist and composer who explores social and political ideas in his work. He’s best known for his vibrant depictions of trees, created with a system of numbers and grids; with another project, he assigned musical notes to letters of the alphabet, then used that process to compose scores based on the writings of James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr.

Gaines believes that many perceptions of the world are shaped by systems, “rather than just our imagination being the unfettered source of ideas and manifestations” that often emerge in art, he said in an interview. His work uses rational, objective processes to create works that elicit a subjective response in the viewer — while grappling with subjects that include race, identity politics, and systems of injustice.

His endeavors have also included large-scale installations about the history of colonialism and broad-scope exhibitions about Black artists and art criticism. Gaines will be in conversation with fellow artist Rodney McMillian on Tuesday; the “Summer Series” talk is currently sold out.

On Wednesday, another lecture will feature this year’s Service to the Arts Honorees Bruce and Barbara Berger. The couple has been involved with multiple art institutions, including Anderson Ranch, for decades, and they support young, emerging artists as well as established ones.

Both Bruce and Barbara have served on the organization’s board; Bruce is also the longtime hot dog griller at the annual community picnic.

They’ve built their lives around appreciation of the arts, the couple said in an interview. (Bruce was once an aspiring artist himself, before chasing other pursuits; Barbara is a professional art advisor.)

Bruce noted that the arts add to the couple’s “quality of life,” and Barbara said it inspires “out-of-the-box thinking.”

“It expands our horizons and our understanding of the world,” Barbara added.

Bruce and Barbara Berger will speak in conversation with Gabriela Palmieri, who runs her own art firm, at the Schermer Meeting Hall on Wednesday. Registration is required.

Anderson Ranch will formally honor Gaines and the Bergers on Thursday at the Recognition Dinner and preceding cocktail party.

Recognition Week concludes with a silent art auction and community picnic on Saturday. Food vendors, live music and children’s art activities will be part of the program.

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.