Perfect Day: Art

What’s Your Perfect Aspen Day?

Who: The Art Lover

What: Galleries, museums and more

Where: Aspen and the surrounding area

First, get your day started with a coffee and croissant. Care to try something new? Frank Thirion’s French Pastry Café on Hopkins Avenue is a great spot for a quick bite … or lingering over a cappuccino or two.

Hit the Galleries 

There are nearly 40 art galleries in the Aspen area, so you won’t have to go far to get your first dose of art. Many are located right in the heart of downtown Aspen on the Cooper and Hyman pedestrian malls.

Some of our favorites? The 212 Art Gallery is contemporary and features local and international artists at 525 E. Cooper.  Forre and Co. Fine Art is a great place to view works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, at 426 E. Hyman. Truly, just wander the downtown. You won’t go far without finding a gallery to explore.

After being inside galleries all morning, take the opportunity to enjoy lunch outside. Most restaurants in Aspen offer outside seating and a meal with a view.

Meander a Museum

After lunch, venture down Mill Street and across the river to the Aspen Art Museum. Housed in what was originally the first hydroelectric plant west of the Mississippi, this cutting edge museum now features free rotating exhibitions of contemporary art and lectures by acclaimed artists, curators, museum directors and exhibitors. Look for the new museum designed by Shigeru Ban to break ground this summer downtown.

Either hop in your car, bike or walk through Aspen’s historic West End neighborhood to enjoy your next stop: The Aspen Institute at 1000 N. Third St. This stunning campus is home to Andy Goldsworthy’s “Stone River,” a rock wall that undulates across the campus through a reflective pool and through a building to the Roaring Fork River below. Artists’ work is also on display in buildings throughout the stunning campus.

If you still have the energy, head over to the Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass to create a little art for yourself. A not-for-profit, year-round visual arts community in Snowmass Village, Anderson Ranch promotes individual artistic expression and development through workshops, artist residencies and receptions, exhibitions, tours, lectures and more in a collection of restored historic barns. With over 140 amazing workshops planned for the summer, there’s bound to be a class to pique any artistic interest.

Eat with your Eyes – Art on a Plate 

Food is art, right? Aspen enjoys an international reputation for its restaurants, so be sure to indulge for dinner. Montagna at The Little Nell offers local food with a modern twist, where Chef Robert McCormick insists you must first eat with your eyes and take in the color on the plate before devouring it. Ajax Tavern (pictured at top) is the place for picturesque mountainside meals with a bistro-bent. The new Limelight Lounge offers amazing pizzas and other light Italian fare meant for sharing. Other local picks include Matsuhisa, Syzygy, L’Hostaria, Jimmy’s and Cache Cache. Casual spots include The Cantina, Peaches, CP Burger, Aspen Brewing Company and Little Ollie’s.

Stay with the Art 

Need art at your hotel as well? If you are staying at The Little Nell, limited-edition works by modern artists with classical foundations were selected to complement the unique attributes and design of each room. Artists include Caio Fonseca, Robert Kelly and Michael Eastman. Works by these artists, as well as renowned landscape photographer Walter Niedermayr, are showcased within other areas of the hotel, including the Living Room and Montagna. Walter Niedermayr’s collection of large-scale photographs entitled The Aspen Series is currently featured at venues and locations throughout Aspen/Snowmass.

Insider’s Tip: Aspen residents head to Carbondale the first Friday of each month for the First Fridays Art Walk. It’s a more relaxed way to experience art, and the whole downtown is closed for gallery openings while parties can pour into the streets.