Over the summer, we traveled to Aspen for the Aspen Art Museum (AAM)’s 13th annual ArtCrush—the museum’s annual week-long fundraising benefit of art parties, talks, tours, and auctions. There, we got a taste of the AAM’s unwavering dedication to art, spending a great deal of time with collectors, artists, and the museum’s CEO and Director Heidi Zuckerman.
“I love artists—that’s kind of the basis of my whole practice as a curator and a director. Artists help us see the world in ways that are different and beautiful,” she said to us at a local café. “There’s always something that’s unexpected.”
Since Zuckerman’s move to Aspen 12 years ago, much has changed. She started by successfully spearheading a capital campaign to fund the new Shigeru Ban–designed building. The museum’s gorgeous woven façade notably greets guests from every corner of Hyman Avenue, welcoming them to an oasis of art through multi-floor exhibitions, talks, tours, and more. She has also curated over one hundred exhibitions within the space to date—including traveling exhibitions to fifteen locations across the United States—and has been leading ArtCrush into millions of dollars in success each summer. Undeniably, Zuckerman has boosted the museum’s stature from a local art gallery to an internationally recognized and regarded institution.
On October 24 in New York at MoMA PS1, Zuckerman debuted her first book, published by Aspen Art Press, entitled Conversations with Artists—an insightful book compiling thirty-four interviews with prominent contemporary artists, such as Michalene Thomas, Julian Schnable, Peter Doig, Cheryl Donegan, Liz Larner, Andrea Bowers, Nate Lowman, Cheryl Donegan, Margaret Lee, and more. Zuckerman notes that these conversations began over a decade ago, first when she was working at the Berkeley Art Museum and exhibiting solo shows with emerging artists.
The book’s aim has a feel-good sparkle to it, following Zuckerman’s own goal—making contemporary art accessible to all—and it shares the stories of artists opening their studios, talking about their practice. “There is nothing quite like being in an artist’s studio, and the first one you visit can have a lifetime impact. Mine was Sam Francis’ the summer after my freshman year at Penn,” said Zuckerman.
“This is a story about how to be human, how to make meaning, and what we value—everything from how becoming a parent affects the kind of work you make, or how you’re making decisions with how to deal with significant loss in your life. And how does that affect how you see or think? It’s about how art can be a companion in times of loneliness and how it can keep you company.”