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Aspen Art Museum


Meet the Artists

Ranging in value from $4,000-$200,000, the works featured in this year’s ArtCrush auction span painting, sculpture, ceramic, fabric and photography. Each one has been generously donated by almost 50 artists, including Jeffrey Gibson, ArtCrush Honoree Gary Simmons and many more, to benefit the AAM’s programs. Discover some of the participating artists here and view the complete selection of works in person at the AAM from July 30 to August 5 or online at

Arlene Shechet
Work kindly donated by the artist and Pace.

For Arlene Shechet, the process of making a sculpture is akin to a conversation. Discussing her practice with Merrell Hambleton for T Magazine in 2020, Shechet notes: “I don’t believe in having a ‘body of work,’[ … ] I just believe in art, in showing a generous offering from the studio.”

Working with clay, wood, bronze, steel, concrete, resin and paint, Shechet creates her abstract sculptures without formula, discarding around one-third as she goes. Soft, organic forms come together with harder-edged built elements; different materials combine and the pedestal itself is often integral to the work. The combinations and textures that emerge are unexpected; strong, uplifting color is a constant.

The freedom that informs Shechet’s process imbues the finished pieces with a sense of optimism and levity. “Skirts,” the title of her 2020 exhibition at Pace Gallery in New York, underlines the humor at the heart of her practice and encourages anthropomorphic readings. There is something unknowable about the sculptures, though they appear benign, maybe even friendly.

In a video accompanying her 2018-19 installation Full Steam Ahead at Madison Square Park in New York, Shechet observes: “The feeling of things being off-balance, the feeling of something possibly sliding and being precarious, but actually amazingly dependable and present-I feel like in a lot of ways that describes the human condition that we all live with; an awareness of our fragility and our strength.”

Born in 1951, Shechet lives and works in New York, Woodstock and Kingston. She has exhibited extensively throughout her career and her work is held in many significant public collections, including The Jewish Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

Jordan Nassar
Work kindly donated by the artist and James Cohan.

Identity, diaspora and cultural absorption lie at the core of Jordan Nassar’s practice. In a 2020 interview with Will Fenstermaker for BOMB, Nassar sets out the intricacies of his own heritage: “I’m part of the Jewish diaspora and the Palestinian diaspora. I speak Hebrew, and I speak Arabic. My husband’s Israeli, and I live in a Jewish household, and I was raised among Arabs, taught to identify as Palestinian.”

The cornerstone of Nassar’s practice is tatreez, a traditional Palestinian form of cross-stitch embroidery. After initially copying patterns from books, he began collaborating with weavers on the West Bank. Nassar sets out the pattern, which the weavers sew in colors of their choice, and then embed within the geometric composition his imagined landscapes. For the most part, the palette is subdued with the odd bolt of bold color. The intricate patterns and serene, stitched mountains combine to form works of an orderly and quiet beauty. In recent years, Nassar has expanded his practice, working with glass beads set in frames, which continue the same iconography, as well as another traditional craft form: wood inlaid with brass and mother of pearl. He cites the work of the late Lebanese American poet and visual artist Etel Adnan as a strong influence, particularly her minimal landscapes and use of color. Part of the Palestinian diaspora, Nassar speaks to Fenstermaker of his “yearning for the homeland” and the inherently political nature of his work. He describes his approach as “so activism:” “It’s not an accident that my art feels like a welcom-ing, beautiful thing. It’s a good way to ease into more intense conversations.” Born in New York in 1985, Nassar continues to live and work in the city. He has exhibited extensively world-wide and his work is held in prominent public collections. His solo show at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, will be on view from August 11 to January 29, 2023.

Ryan Sullivan
Work kindly donated by the artist and Sadie Coles HQ.

Chance, climate, science and time all play vital roles in Ryan Sullivan’s practice. His process-based paint-ings are made by combining resin and pigment inside a rubber tray. Obliged to work quickly, as the materials set fast, he has experimented with different techniques, using shaped, silicon molds to create texture, tilting the tray and finding new ways to agitate the contents. Areas of hot and cold colors emerge, and the finished works capture the dynamism of their production. As the works progress and paint accumulates, the outcome becomes, paradoxically, less clear.

There is a nod to Gerhard Richter’s squeegee paintings in Sullivan’s process and in his rich, sumptuous colors. But, more readily still, these pieces evoke the legacy of abstract expressionism. Sullivan works on a flat surface-just as Jackson Pollock put his large canvases on the floor-and is inspired by the potential for improvisation in music, which chimes with Pollock and his peers’ penchant for jazz.

At the heart of Sullivan’s practice is a willingness to surrender control. Speaking with Paul Hobson, director of Modern Art, Oxford, earlier this year, he explains: “My brain seems to lend itself better to trying to create an overarching system where chaos and mess can happen and still reach a kind of beauty, than just constantly whittling down one thing and finding perfection that way.”

Born in 1983 in upstate New York, Sullivan currently lives and works in New York. His work is in major public collections, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Forthcoming projects include a solo exhibition at rosyendpost, Greenport, and a new book surveying Sullivan’s practice, published by Sadie Coles HQ and Apogee Graphics.

Dominic Chambers
Work kindly donated by the artist and Lehmann Maupin.

Dominic Chambers wants to normalize the experience of doing nothing. In a filmed walk-through of his 2020 exhibition “Like the Shapes of Clouds on Water,” at Pittsburgh’s August Wilson African American Cultural Center, he discusses his paintings of people relaxing, reading, daydreaming. These works depict real people—friends, family—in imaginary landscapes; psychological and figurative, they explore the relationship between reality and fantasy.

Chambers paints with strong, often primary colors, sometimes allowing red, yellow or blue to dominate the work. Color-field painting provides an important touchstone, while the influence of art history is at its most explicit in the series “After Albers” (2020), in which tonal, concentric squares are laid atop the painted scene or the canvas is split horizontally by a sharp division of color.

Literature is another key influence for Chambers, who also writes short stories. Discussing the Pittsburgh show, he cites W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1903 The Souls of Black Folk as an important source. In this text, Du Bois describes how, in the US, Black people live “behind the veil” of racial difference, separating them from the white society in which they must move and limiting their full self-expression. In Chambers’s paintings, this experience is translated as a pattern of raindrops or a wash of color, partially obscuring the image of those behind.

A recent series is informed by Chambers’s interest in the idea of shadow work, developed by psychoanalyst Carl Jung, which encourages engagement with the unconscious and whole self. Speaking to Jasmine Wahi for artnet earlier this year, Chambers comments: “One’s validation is often held in the power of other people. O en white people, for example, and the institutions. So, anything you produce is often measured by their sense of validity, and that robs you of your power. [ … ] That reclaiming of power, that reclaiming of wholeness, is also a part of the shadow working. Then you don’t need that validation. Your images stand on your own.”

Yuli Yamagata
Work kindly donated by the artist and Anton Kern Gallery.

Yuli Yamagata’s vibrant, surreal works are, at once, humorous and sinister. In the words of Andrea K. Scott, writing for The New Yorker in 2021, Yamagata is “wildly imaginative [ … ] fascinated by the macabre-from vampires to manga-and by the tension between revulsion and beauty.” To create her wall works and sculptures, she works primarily with fabric, sewing together different textiles, such as silk and velvet, often selecting patterned pieces. She stretches the fabric over canvases or builds up free-standing objects. Working with resin and paint, Yamagata glues an eclectic range of found objects-from garlic to chopsticks and corncobs-to the surface of her pieces. Her fascination with sportswear has led to the incorporation of sneakers and an abundant use of Lycra. In an interview with Rory Mitchell for Ocula in 2021, Yamagata explains: “I start every sculpture by choosing a kind of ‘challenge,’ usually informed by the physicality of the material itself or by a chosen narrative.”

Born in 1989 in Sao Paulo, Yamagata continues to live and work in her home city. Through her Japanese heritage, she has become interested in different aspects of the culture, including shibori, a manual tie-dyeing technique, and manga. The influence of Tetsu mi Kudo can be clearly felt in her sculptural works.

Yamagata’s interest in mystery, the otherworldly and dreamscapes comes through in the titles of her recent shows: “Sweet Dreams, Nosferatu” at Anton Kern Gallery, New York, and “Insomnia” at Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel, Sao Paulo (both 2021). She cites David Lynch and North American sci-fl movies of the 1990s as influences. Discussing the latter with Mitchell, she says: “By using green, purple and pink tones for skin or limbs, I mainly wanted to create works connected to feelings, sensations and emotions; works that the viewer could relate to regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on.”

Katherine Bernhardt
Work kindly donated by the artist and David Zwirner.

In Katherine Bernhardt’s large, exuberant paintings, a vast array of familiar items from popular and consumer culture jostle for space: cartoon characters, fast food, cans of Pepsi, slices of watermelon, Sharpies, batteries, Rubik’s cubes and cigarettes are but some of her chosen subjects. Working in a loose, gestural style, with vibrantly colored spray paint and acrylic, Bernhardt creates bizarre juxtapositions with a flagrant disregard for the relative scale of each item. She calls these works, with their repeated motifs, “pattern paintings.” Her influences are broad, ranging from pop and graffiti art to Dutch wax printing in African fabrics. She also draws on her time in Puerto Rico and Morocco, where she became fascinated with North African rugs. The artist’s love of all things 1980s, and particularly the 1982 film E.T, which she first saw as a young girl, led to the friendly extra-terrestrial being the star of her show “Done with Xanax” at Canada Gallery in New York in 2020. For “Product Recall: New Pattern Paintings,” at Xavier Hufkens in Brussels in 2016, Belgian motifs such as Smurfs and waffles entered her lexicon.

Born in 1975 in St Louis, Bernhardt received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998, where, according to Scott Indrisek in a 2019 article for GQ, she became interested in the work of Laura Owens and Mary Heilmann. She completed an MFA at the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 2000 and remained in the city for a number of years. Bernhardt has exhibited internationally and her work is in prominent public collections, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. She recently moved back to her hometown, where she renovated a building in the Midtown Design District-now Dragon Crab and Turtle: a storage space and gallery, launched in 2020.

Mungo Thomson
Work kindly donated by the artist and Karma.

Mungo Thomson’s multidisciplinary practice embraces film, sound, sculpture and photography. His conceptually rooted projects are astonishing in their ambition and inventiveness, a wry humor at their core. Take some of his experiments with sound: for The Bootleg Series (2003-04), Thomson recorded the ambient sound at gallery openings and then played these tapes of chatter and noise at subsequent exhibitions to disquieting effect. At the Whitney Biennial in 2008, he created Coat Check Chimes, replacing the venue’s existing hangers with versions designed to ring like percussive triangles, allowing museum-goers to create music while hanging up their coats. For Crickets (2012-13), Thomson worked with the composer Michael Webster, transcribing field recordings of crickets from across the world and turning their familiar chirpings into a musical score for orchestra.

Thomson brought this playful, disruptive approach to his 2015 exhibition at Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, where the venue’s unopened mail was left to accumulate on the floor, gradually obstructing both the space and its institutional function. For Frieze Projects Los Angeles 2020, held on a New York City film set at Paramount Pictures Studios, Thomson returned to this idea, with a twist: he presented Snowman, a stack of Amazon boxes on the sidewalk outside a (fake) brownstone; the packages were cast in bronze, a perfectly rendered facsimile of the real thing.

Thomson’s project Time Life, presented at New York’s Karma earlier this year, took ten years to complete. It comprises a series of stop-motion videos made from the rephotographed pages of reference books, collated to create a dizzyingly high-speed digital flipbook. Projected onto large screens, to soundtracks by experimental musicians, these absurd documents, such as Volume 1. Foods of the World, 2014-22 (2022), are wholly original. With Thomson, it is impossible to know what might come next.

Born in Woodland, CA, in 1969, Thomson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited internationally and is held in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and FRAC Ile-de-France, Paris.

Adrianne Rubenstein
Work kindly donated by the artist and Broadway.

Executed in oil, with deliberate, confident strokes, Adrianne Rubenstein’s paintings feel relentlessly upbeat. Semi-abstract or semi-figurative, depending on how you look at them, these biographical works-which draw on the artist’s memories of childhood and everyday surroundings-pulsate with life.

The bright, acid tones of some pieces recall the palette of 19th-century French symbolist Odilon Redon, but a stronger connection still is to the early-20th-century German group The Blue Rider, whose members emphasized natural forms and the spiritual/emotive dimension of color. Rubenstein’s paintings, in their expressive, vibrant naivety, echo those of key members such as August Macke, Franz Marc and Gabriele Munter. Marc painted Blue Horse in 1911; Rubenstein’s painting of the same title followed 110 years later and is typical of her dense compositions, with the horse’s head battling for attention with daubs of bold color and semi-recognizable forms. A quote by Munter, taken from a 1958 interview with Edouard Roditi, feels relevant to Rubenstein’s practice: “I think we were all more interested in being honest than in being modern.” In turn, Barry Schwabsky, writing about Rubenstein’s work in Artforum in 2020, observes: “Rubenstein’s droll decompositions of the familiar transcend their own whimsy by dint of their commitment to what she calls ‘a kernel of truth, honesty and curiosity in my intentions’-that is, to sincerity.”

Born in Montreal in 1983, Rubenstein studied first at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, before completing an MFA at San Francisco Art Institute in 2011. She now lives and works in New York, where she also curates exhibitions by fellow artists.
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