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| June 13, 2016 | Culture
After 50 Years, Snowmass’s sheep ranch-turned-global artists haven remains atop Aspen’s art scene.
Cultivating culture: Founder Paul Soldner leads a tour of Anderson Ranch in 1981. In addition to its intensive residency programs, the sprawling, immersive artists’ enclave offers more than 150 workshops each summer.
When world-renowned ceramicist Paul Soldner decided, in 1966, to convert a four-and-a-half-acre Snowmass Village sheep ranch into artist studios and galleries, he had a clear vision for the type of institution he wanted it to become. In fact, Soldner—who passed away at his winter home in Claremont, California, in 2011—penned a letter to the community explicitly outlining his mission. “The first thing he said,” says current Anderson Ranch Executive Director Nancy Wilhelms, “is that we’re a center, not a school. We’re different.”
Since those early days, the Ranch has served as Aspen’s fount of artistic inspiration and creativity. But, 50 years later, Soldner’s legacy extends far beyond the Roaring Fork Valley.
Last year, legendary painter and printmaker Frank Stella was the recipient of the nonprofit’s National Artist Award (this year photographer and MacArthur Fellow Carrie Mae Weems will be celebrated). “You can come here as a student and talk to Frank Stella as he’s walking through the studios, have him talk about life, work, and inspiration, then go back to your own workshop and go to work,” says Wilhelms. “It’s quite amazing.” The 50th anniversary celebrations will culminate in a week of workshops, guest lectures, and exhibitions July 17–22, with more events scheduled throughout the year. “Here, art is not just a professional endeavor,” says Wilhelms. “It’s a way of life.”
Photography courtesy of Anderson Ranch Arts Center