What’s New for Arts & Culture in Aspen for the 2021 Summer Season
In-Person Music, Theatre, Visual Arts & More
ASPEN, Colo. (May 20, 2021) – After months of hiatus due to Covid-19 and thanks to restrictions easing, in-person arts and culture events are making a comeback for the summer of 2021. Aspen is one of the most culturally rich towns in the U.S., offering visitors and locals access to new art exhibits, performances, classical and jazz music, literary events, and more during the summer and fall seasons.
The cultural heart and soul of Aspen emerged more than 60 years ago when Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke and his wife, Elizabeth, invited intellectuals, artists, and philosophers to convene in Aspen for the Goethe Bicentennial. Established in the wake of this event were the Aspen Institute, Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the Aspen Center for Physics, the festival was a great success and put the former mining town on the map of America’s intellectual communities. It also spawned the current Aspen Ideas Festival, held each summer in Aspen (TBD if Aspen Ideas Festival 2021 will be in person or virtual).
Today more than ever, arts and culture are an integral part of our community, making Aspen a haven for nurturing mind, body, and spirit and a destination for those looking to experience the return of arts and culture after the Covid-19 pandemic. The following are some of Aspen’s cultural offerings for the Summer of 2021:
*This press release will be updated at Aspenchamber.org/media/press-releases as restrictions change.
- Jazz Aspen Snowmass JAS - JAS’ 30th Anniversary unfolds against a backdrop of growing optimism about what the summer of 2021 will look like for live music performances.
JAS plans to present its full summer season of small venue concerts, focused on safe and distanced in-person “live” performances starting the weekend of June 18-20 (Food & Wine time historically), followed immediately by the June JAS Experience June 24-27 and the JAS Café summer season of July/August performances. The June Experience will be scattered among a total of eight performance venues. General admission passes include shows at The Little Nell, Here House, Belly Up and the Wheeler Opera House. The Velvet Buck at the St. Regis, the rooftop of the Aspen Art Museum and the Patron Tent on Durant Avenue will play host to VIP pass holders.
A special weekend opening the summer season will be announced soon taking place over the former Food & Wine Classic dates (June 18-19); urbane jazz vocalist & saxophonist Curtis Stigers (July 9); legendary jazz-fusion pioneers The Yellowjackets who performed at the Benedict Music Tent on the opening weekend of Jazz Aspen June 1991 (July 10); jazz pianist and Frost School of Music Dean Shelly Berg & Friends (July 23); Caribbean Carnivale sounds of jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles & Creole Soul (July 24); JAS Academy Artistic Director and multi-Grammy winning bassist Christian McBride & Tip City (Aug. 5); the premier male jazz vocalist of his generation, Kurt Elling, in his long overdue JAS Café debut (Aug. 6); the return of a favorite JAS vocalist, Catherine Russell, in a Blues focused program paying tribute to early blues pioneers like Bessie Smith (Aug. 13); and another JAS debut, the wildly creative fusion of jazz, African rhythms & bluegrass sounds of Pascal Bokar’s Afro Blue Grazz Band (Aug. 15). Additional JAS Café shows will be announced at a later date.
Headlining the Labor Day Experience — with an outdoor festival at Snowmass — are the legendary Stevie Nicks, country star Eric Church, rock group Kings of Leon and singer-songwriter Maren Morris. All of the artists had previously committed to performing at the 2020 festival, which was postponed due to COVID19.
- The Aspen Music Festival and School is planning for a spectacular in-person 2021 summer season and is preparing for a season that is safe, distanced, and full of live music. Aspen Music Festival returns for an in person eight-week festival from July 1 until Aug. 22 with daily performances at the open-air Benedict Music Tent. The schedule and performances have been announced and are available here, and tickets will be available as of May 17. The summer season will feature renowned alumni including Renee Fleming, Alisa Weinerstein, Yefim Bronfman, Agustin Hadelich and more.
- Belly Up Aspen, an intimate 450-person music club, will reopen their doors during the summer of 2021 at 100% capacity with no mask or social distancing requirements. Per the latest Pitkin County order, at least 80% of attendees must be fully vaccinated. The remaining 20% or less can take a Covid test within 72-hours of the show. Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test will be required for entry. Customers must be fully vaccinated 14-days prior to the show. To achieve the required 80% vaccination/20% negative test ratio, shows will have “vaccination” and “negative test” ticket types. Attendees must buy the ticket type that corresponds with what their status will be on the date of the show. Further details about vaccination and negative test verification processes will be distributed in the near future. Some artists confirmed to perform are Deadmau5 (July 1 and 2), Kygo (July 4), Pat Green (July 18) as well as The Beach Boys (August 3) and Randy Newman (August 13) summer of 2021 will hopefully bring many more artists performing back on stage.
- Theatre Aspen is returning this summer for the 38th season of music, plays, cabarets, and the second edition of our Solo Flights solo play festival. The season, running from June 30 – August 31, will include two musicals, Chicago (June 30 – July 22) and Rock of Ages (July 30 – August 21). This summer we will see the return of the organization’s developmental one-person show festival, Solo Flights (August 25 – 31), and multiple special events kicking off with the annual Season Sneak Peek on Sunday, June 20 at the Hurst Theatre and the ever-popular Theatre Aspen Summer Cabaret Series, which returns for its third season of dinner and performances (July 11, August 8 & 9, August 15) at various restaurants and venues around Aspen. Additionally, the company will—for the first time ever—host a summertime Gala entitled Midsummer Masquerade which will be headlined by Emmy Award®, Golden Globe Award®, and Screen Actors Guild Award® winner, Darren Criss on Sunday, July 25.
ART FOR ALL
- Anderson Ranch Arts Center is a nonprofit, year-round organization serving the personal and professional development of amateur and professional artists through workshops, artist residencies, exhibitions, tours, lectures, and community outreach programs for artists of all skill levels. The artists-in-residence and faculty are distinguished professionals in a wide variety of fields, from printmaking to digital art, and it all takes place on a historic five-acre Snowmass ranch that’s been transformed into a serene, inspirational campus. The campus is currently open at limited capacity with On-campus workshops being held and will continue throughout 2021 as restrictions allow. Virtual workshops have also been added to Ranch programming.
Fundraising week will be the week of 7/12 and will replace what is normally the Recognition Dinner event at the Jerome, and be held on the Ranch campus, with honoree Simone Leigh, who is the 2022 U.S. representative for the Venice Biennale. The Guerilla Girls will also be on campus that week doing a public lecture and interactive workshop.
- Aspen Art Museum is a “kunsthalle,” a non-collecting institution home to contemporary exhibitions and aimed at the promotion of free art with complimentary admission. The 30,000-square-foot museum in downtown Aspen was designed by Japanese architect and humanitarian Shigeru Ban. The building includes 12,500 square feet of exhibition space, educational spaces, a bookstore and shop, and SO Café located on the rooftop with unprecedented views of Aspen Mountain and Independence Pass. The museum has remained open with limited capacity, social distancing and mask wearing.
Aspen Art Museum’s SO Cafe is open Tuesday - Fridays from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. The museum’s commitment to community-based programs is an important aspect of our ongoing mission to foster lifelong appreciation and understanding of the visual arts and their role in wider understanding and community building.
- Opened Dec. 2020: Aspen Art Museum (AAM) opened a total re-imagining of the AAM store by American artist Jonathan Berger. Berger completely transformed the museum store into an environment that is at once an exhibition, social space, and place of commerce. More than 350 objects are on display, all of which will be for sale in store and online, with prices ranging from free to $50,000. The new AAM store is inspired by the artist’s own experiences, working and shopping in downtown New York in the 1990s, in spaces that shared characteristics with artistic projects. It also contributes to a history of artist-led stores, notably Claes Oldenburg’s The Store (1961), and Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas’s The Shop(1993), as well as longer-running projects including Sara Penn’s Knobkerry(1965–2006)—where David Hammons bought African art and staged an installation in 1995, Hans-Peter Feldmann’s Laden(1975–2015) which ran for forty years in Düsseldorf, and Keith Haring’s Pop Shop(1986–2005). Berger’s project honors this multifaceted legacy, as well as engages with and interrogates the “Wunderkammer” tradition which emerged in the seventeenth century.
- The Red Brick Center for the Arts is a community arts center and art gallery featuring gallery exhibitions, kids and adult art classes, artist studios, nonprofit offices, a conference room & dance studio. The gallery hosts changing exhibitions throughout the year which feature dynamic, innovative artworks in a variety of mediums by Colorado artists with an emphasis on Roaring Fork Valley artists. The curated exhibitions promote art as an essential experience for creating dialogue, learning, and growth. During the summer of 2021, the Red Brick will be hosting two gallery exhibitions and one outdoor sculpture exhibition as well as collections of contemporary artworks created by Colorado artists.
Aspen Art Galleries - Aspen’s more than 30 art galleries punctuate downtown streets, inviting passersby to browse their diverse collections. During 2020/21, many new galleries opened in Aspen (detailed below).
- Currently, all galleries are open for viewing with social distancing and mask wearing. Baldwin Gallery, a sleek, open space, showcases works by some of the most acclaimed contemporary artists in the business such as Louise Nevelson, David LaChapelle, Ewan Gibbs, Todd Hido, James Rosenquist and Jennifer Bartlett. Galerie Maximillian and Forré Fine Art are Aspen’s homes for the great modern masters including Picasso and Chagall. Elliott Yeary Gallery hosts the work of fine 19th and 20th century European and American masters as well as contemporary paintings and sculpture.. Marianne Boesky Gallery stages various exhibitions during peak seasons and offers a residency program in the shoulder season.
- New/Eden Fine Art Gallery– Headquartered in NYC with locations around the world, this contemporary art gallery opened its latest location in a newly remodeled 7,200-foot space that was home to Boogie’s Diner and a clothing shop from the late 1980s until 2015. French Owners Klimovsky and Guy Martinovsky are based in NYC but spend time in other locations where they have galleries, and they are based in Aspen as of this past winter; (534 E. Cooper Ave.).
- Coming Soon - Almine Rech, the powerhouse gallery with outposts in London, Paris and Brussels, is opening just its second stateside gallery in Aspen. The gallery, founded by the dealer Almine Ruiz-Picasso has a 900-square-foot space just steps from the Aspen Art Museum and will open June 4 with a show of new work by Nathaniel Mary Quinn.
- Coming soon - White Cube, which has gallery locations in London and Hong Kong and offices in Paris and New York, will open a pop-up space in Aspen, located at 228 South Mill Street. Over three months, the gallery will stage three group exhibitions under the moniker “Correspondences.” The exhibitions will run June 8–July 4, July 10–29, and August 3–September 5. The gallery previously hosted another seasonal pop-up location in West Palm Beach, Florida.
- Coming Soon - Lehmann-Maupin Gallery, with locations in NYC, Hong Kong, Seoul and London, is opening a location in Aspen. Rachel Lehmann and David Maupin founded Lehmann Maupin in 1996. The gallery represents a diverse range of contemporary artists and estates from around the world. Since inception, Lehmann Maupin has been instrumental in introducing international artists in new geographies.
- Coming Late 2021 - Bayer Center - A new center dedicated to the work of Bauhaus artist and Aspen icon Herbert Bayer is planned for the Aspen Institute campus. The new center will exhibit Bayer’s work from Lynda and Stewart Resnick’s extensive Bayer collection, the Aspen Institute’s holdings, as well as pieces on loan from museums, while housing archives from Bayer scholars and public education.
Aspen Film, a nonprofit, year-round organization, presents festivals, film series, and youth programs. Its motto, “Independent by Nature,” is imbued in its trademark event, Aspen Filmfest, which celebrates the independent and innovative filmmakers of past and present. In addition, Aspen Film holds its annual Academy Screenings over the winter holiday season and the Oscar-qualifying Aspen Shortsfest in April each year.
DON YOUR THINKING CAP
- The Aspen Institute aims to foster values-based leadership and encourages individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society. Through its seminars, leadership programs, public policy work, and conferences and events, the Aspen Institute provides a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. Its centerpiece event is the Aspen Ideas Festival offering an array of lectures, presentations, debates, and panel discussions by leading thinkers who span a vast range of critical topics, from the economy to the environment and science to the arts. The June Aspen Ideas Festival will incorporate four nights of digital programming with new interactive sessions introduced during the day. The overarching theme will be “American Futures,” exploring issues ranging from democracy to science, the USA’s role on the world stage, and inequality. Closely monitoring public health recommendations, a decision will be made in the Spring about the possibility of any live component to the 2021 Aspen Ideas Festival on the Aspen campus.
- Serving readers and writers since 1976, Aspen Words is Colorado's oldest nonprofit literary center and has established itself among the country's foremost promoters of the literary arts. Its programs are corner-stoned by the annual Aspen Summer Words, a celebration of words and ideas featuring two complementary components: an intensive writing retreat held in the mornings and a stimulating literary festival in the afternoons and evenings. During 2021, the June event will be moved to September 26-October 1 for an in-person offering.
- Aspen Historical Society - Explore area history on re-imagined guided outdoor tours this summer.
- Aspen Historical Society sites include the following:
- Wheeler Stallard House
- Holden-Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum
- Ashcroft and Independence Ghost towns
- Aspen Historical Society sites include the following:
Tours explore Aspen’s Victorian West End neighborhood, Bauhaus architecture, a historical railroad corridor and cemetery, and more.
Private tours and guided experiences are offered based on guide availability, call 970.925.3721 to book. All tours for summer 2021 are limited to 6 people and require a reservation, call 970.925.3721 to book. Tour offerings are subject to change. All current governmental mask and social distancing protocols will be strictly observed.
Note: Wheeler Opera House, Aspen’s historic theater and stage will remain closed through July 2021 due to construction and masonry work being done to preserve the historic building.
For media information and images, visit www.aspenchamber.org/media and contact Promo Communications at
Maureen Poschman • [email protected]
Carol Breen • [email protected]
For visitor information, visit www.aspenchamber.org, or call 1.888.290.1324 or 970.925.1940.