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Aspen Shopping: A 101 Guide to Aspen Art Galleries

Brandon Wenerd's picture

Aspen is spiked with sensory overload. The region boasts a breathtaking panorama of majestic mountains, beautiful people, a cloudless cerulean sky, fresh air, and irresistible culinary flavors. The gorgeous scenery and alpine spirit inspires a delightful visual feast, provoking the age-old transcendental question Aristotle and Plato couldn’t quite agree on: does life imitate art or does art imitate life?

Artistic soul-searching and personal ecstasy is highly encouraged in quirky mountain towns like Aspen. For art lovers and collectors, Aspen boasts a treasure trove of funky galleries and unique art boutiques. Whether you’re searching for an eye-catching sculpture, a conversation-starting wall piece, or a genuine modern masterpiece, Aspen has a gallery catering to most sophisticated tastes and distinguished styles. Shoppers will notice most art galleries in Aspen have the moniker “fine” attached to their name, meaning one thing: they are not cheap. Many established and world-renowned artists retreat from West Hollywood or New York’s Chelsea and Soho to experience the surreal transformative energy of the Rocky Mountains: a type of new age, artistic oneness with nature. Like other well-known artistic enclaves in the American West - Sedona, Santa Fe, Telluride, and Taos - the sunlight and shadows in the Roaring Fork Valley dance on snowy peaks of the Elk Range and red rock buttes like a ballerina gracefully chasseing to the allegro orchestral crescendos in Swan Lake.

Before pulling the plastic out of your wallet and setting out on a full-blown Aspen art escapade, it is probably wise to acquaint yourself on the breadth and depth of the gallery scene. On the first Thursday of every month, Aspen Sojourner Magazine hosts a free art walk to notable galleries and exhibitions between 3 and 7 p.m. The community-wide open house is a casual and informative way to become orientated with Aspen’s art galleries. Look for the red balloons bobbing outside dozens of participating galleries in downtown Aspen and Aspen Highlands.

Here is a brief overview of a few notable Aspen galleries for collectors and casual art shoppers.

Galerie Maximillian
602 E Cooper Ave.
Aspen, CO 81611

Galerie Maximillian boasts an incredible collection of modern masters, including paintings and sketches by Francis Bacon, Marc Chagall, DeBuffet, Matisse, and Picasso. A collection of surreal, hypnotizing spin engravings by contemporary British impresario Damien Hirst is currently on exhibition and for sale to serious collectors. Other artists on display include Peter Doig, Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn, Richard Prince, and Kathy Taslitz.

Forre & Co
426 East Hyman Avenue
Aspen, CO 81611

< a href="">Forre & Co is an Aspen art institution catering to the urbane tastes of the Forbes and Fortune 500 crowd. This is a gallery where whipping out the AmEx Black Card can lead to the purchase of authentic paintings, sketches, and etchings of legendary masters like Salvador Dali, Chagall, Manet, Degas, and Picasso. The gallery represents lesser-known – yet equally important – artists in the surrealism, abstract expressionism, and impressionism movements. This is the perfect place to go if you are looking to begin acquiring an impressive personal collection. If you happen to fall in a lower socio-economic caste, it’s worth putting on your finest threads just to browse the impressive and priceless collection of Dali etches and watercolors currently on display. Forre has a truly remarkable and iconic collection worth a curious glimpse for casual art gawkers.

Peter Lik Fine Art Photography
Isis Building, Suite B
406 East Hopkins Avenue
Aspen, Colorado 81611

Immediately adjacent to the Isis Theatre, it is difficult not to miss the Peter Lik gallery: look for the brilliant, enormous floor-to-ceiling collection of vivid photography. Peter Lik is one of the world’s most celebrated landscape photographers. Lik’s Aspen gallery displays his prowess behind the lens. The colors in Lik’s photographs are mesmerizing, making it easy to see why everyone from rapper/producer Dr. Dre to former US President Bill Clinton collect his work.

E.S. Lawrence Gallery
217 S. Galena Street
Aspen, CO 81611

The < href="">E.S. Lawrence Gallery features a handsome collection of modern artists on a variety of different media. This is a great place for beginning collectors to start acquiring original oils, acrylics, watercolors, and pastels. Be sure to check out the collection of limited edition bronze pieces by Colorado native Samuel Small and Theodore Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. ‘Dr. Seuss.’

David Floria Gallery
525 E Cooper Ave # 205
Aspen, CO 81611

The David Floria Gallery exhibits up and coming movers and shakers in abstract art. The collection features compelling photography and unique prints.

Royal Street Fine Art
205 South Mill St., #211
Aspen, Colorado 81611

It is not hard to miss the Royal Street Gallery. A bronze bear and bucking mustang stand sentry outside this massive Mill Street gallery. Because of its central location, Royal Street is one of the most popular galleries in Aspen. Exhibits range from antiquated classical pieces to contemporary American master painters like Eric Christensen and Todd White. Many of the canvas pieces are tastefully oversized, making them perfect for infusing a little sophisticated décor onto the walls of your multi-million dollar vacation ski château.

Joel Soroka Gallery
400 E. Hyman Ave.
Aspen, CO 81611

Vintage and unique contemporary photography are on display in this colorful Hyman Avenue gallery. The exhibits push the boundaries of traditional photography.

Aspen Grove Fine Art
525 E Cooper Ave #105
Aspen, CO 81611

From the outside, Aspen Grove Fine Art resembles a well-lit fine art mini mall. This two-story gallery features oil paintings, watercolors, sculptures, and photography. Many pieces concentrate on distinct Western Americana themes and subjects. Be sure to check out the gallery’s schedule for frequent exhibitions of local and nationally acclaimed artists.