August 2-4 was a whirlwind of fundraising activity for the Aspen Art Museum (AAM) with ArtCrush 2017. Lunches, dinners, cocktail receptions, hikes, collection visits, exhibition tours, talks, and more, with several artists, gallerists, and collectors took place throughout the week. Everything kicked off with a discussion between CEO and Director of AAM, Heidi Zuckerman, and Lawrence Weiner—this year’s ArtCrush honoree, and recipient of the Aspen Award for Art. Next, there was WineCrush at John and Amy Phelan’s art-filled home in the hills of Aspen, and PreviewCrush at Baldwin Gallery and Casterline | Goodman Gallery in the heart of town. Concluding the week as the anchor of ArtCrush was the main event—the gala-auction on Friday night at Buttermilk Ski Area to benefit the museum. More than 600 attendees were present to bid on donated works from artists like Daniel Arsham, Raymond Pettibon, Liza Lou, Zoe Crosher, Marilyn Minter, Liz Nielsen, and Katie Stout.
The night began with a warm greeting by ushers guiding everyone through the rain with umbrellas. Large hot air balloon replicas lined the arrival area, drawing guests into a colorful tented cocktail reception with refreshments from Dom Pérignon. Above, nearly 100 paper lanterns illuminated the tent’s near-transparent ceiling. Just adjacent was a tent lined with the art from the night’s live and continuing online auction. In the center of the room was a wine-tasting station, introduced by a prestigious sommelier from Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits.
A third tent—kept hidden until dinner time—featured a stage positioned under a hanging hot air balloon model with a basket, providing the night with a hopeful, sky-high atmosphere, inspired by Weiner’s donated work and Colorado’s hot air balloon culture.
Introductory remarks by Amy Phelan were followed by a thoughtful speech from Zuckerman, touching upon the museum’s recognition this spring, accepting the National Medal for Museum and Library Services in Washington, D.C., which is only given to 10 institutions, out of 35,000 museums and libraries, nationwide. Zuckerman introduced Weiner as the Aspen Award for Art honoree, highlighting his dedication to the art world over his 60-year career.
“Candidates for the award are not just those who have devoted their lives to a laudable career, but also those who have activated passion through their contributions to our community,” said Zuckerman. “Working around the world, Lawrence is perhaps the most democratic artist working today. Thank you for sharing your art and your humanity with us, and always doing so with an inherent dignity.”
As Weiner took to the stage, he smiled to greet the crowd, saying, “May I honestly say—this is nice. I am 75 years old, and I am a very lucky person. Art is made by people for other people. The whole point is that art is about making it public. I’m not a holiday person, but please do party. That would be the greatest—better than any applause for me.”
Many raised their glasses, others cheered, and everyone applauded. As Zuckerman and Weiner took their seats, Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s Senior International Specialist for Contemporary Art, took to the stage for the sixth consecutive year to lead the live auction. Works like Portrait with Red Ink by George Condo (selling for $130,000), Fussy Facts by Ed Ruscha (selling for $115,000), and Concrete Landscape by Peter Fischli/David Weiss (selling for $230,000), were at the heart of competitive bidding wars, as well as pieces by Liza Lou (selling for $75,000) and Ed Ruscha (selling for $115,000).
Concluding the auction was Weiner’s piece—a vinyl superimposed atop a monumental presentation board, which offered the collector the right to replicate the work in any color, size, and medium, so long as they followed his guiding principles: the artist may construct the piece, the piece may be fabricated, and the piece need not be built. The anticipated work sold for an astounding $450,000, capping the night at a remarkable $2.8 million raised for AAM.
On the way out, guests were gifted canvas bags with Weiner’s work on them and a catalogue from the museum. After catching a shuttle bus back to Galena Street in town, ArtCrush drew to a close with AfterPartyCrush at Belly Up. Dancing, bottle service, and music by edgy DJ Eve Salvail proved to be the best way to end a celebratory week out West.