Experience the Aspen Art Scene at Anderson Ranch

Learn about art programs for adults, children and artists with special needs that stretch the creative mind at this arts center in Snowmass Village.


Anderson Ranch is a magical place. Art is happening. You can feel it.

Located just outside Aspen in Snowmass Village, celebrated artists, curators, critics, scholars and collectors come to Anderson Ranch Arts Center to inspire students, make challenging work and participate in ongoing seminars related to contemporary art. Each summer, more than 1,500 artists and students of all ages are drawn to this mountain enclave to nurture their creative souls.

As I walked through the campus, past rustic buildings adorned with large pots of healthy-looking flowers, I could spot artists at work through open doorways, additionally inspired by the fresh mountain air, no doubt.

Creative Curriculum

During the winter, the Ranch offers a residency program designed to foster creative, intellectual and personal growth for emerging and established visual artists. While in residence, artists are encouraged to pursue their own goals—to take risks and find new projects and ideas, free from everyday pressures.

During the summer, from June through late September, a faculty of renowned artists and respected instructors offer more than 100 workshops in seven disciplines for children and adults. They include hands-on learning opportunities in ceramics, printmaking, sculpture, painting and drawing, digital media and photography, furniture design and woodworking, and art history and theory.

Children’s Programs

On many summer days, you’ll find young artists busy shaping clay, creating sculptures or painting with passion. Home base for the children’s program is the Evelyn and Martin Siegel Children’s Workshop building, set in the heart of the tree-covered ranch.

The professionals who instruct the children do much more than provide busy work so that parents can have a day to themselves. As is evident in the unique offerings, the goal is to spark the imagination and enhance the young students’ inherent creativity.

The weeklong classes range from skateboard design (add that cool edge to your board!) to self portraiture.

Here is sampling of classes offered:

  • Shopping Bag Buildings—Taught by a Guggenheim Museum teaching artist, children create unique architecture from a simple brown paper bag. For children ages 6 to 8.
  • Graphic Fashions: Screen Printed Design—Students learn different types of screen printing. From designs printed on fabric, such as stencil and mono printing, kids then learn to create images on screen. For children ages 9 to 12.
  • Animales From the Spirit of Mexico—In this bilingual workshop (taught in English and Spanish), kids carve fantastical animals out of wood and paint them with bright colors in the style of Oaxacan alebrijes. For children ages 9 to 12.
  • Urban Stretch: Exploratory Painted Design—Students combine abstract expressionism with the human figure, distort their creation with a computer projection and illustrate further with painting. For teens.
  • Anderson Ranch also provides a class (a collaborative effort with Challenge Aspen) entitled Art Explorations for Artists With Special Needs, where participating students are given the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills, take risks and experience successes.

The 2009 Summer Workshop schedule is available on the Arts Center’s Web site in early January 2009. You can request a hard copy catalog or make online class selections at that time. The classes do fill quickly, so make your plans as soon as possible.

Revel in the Artsy Energy

If you or your children are unable to participate in the workshops, access the creative energy through these other options:

  • Attend the free slide-lecture series offered by faculty and visiting artists. They’ll share images of their work and the inspiration behind them. Every Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m., plus weekday afternoons and evenings as announced (early June to mid-September).
  • Summer Auctionettes—I love this clever fund-raising idea. Enjoy fast-paced afternoon auctions over picnic lunches featuring work by staff, students, faculty and visiting artists. It’s a great way to buy art while supporting the work of the Ranch. A barbecue lunch is available from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. for $10, and the auctionette follows from 12:15 to 1 p.m. (Offered every other Friday, in June to September. Check with the Arts Center for specific dates.)
  • Annual Art Auction—A daylong event, with artworks from existing faculty and students as well as previous. It’s the biggest fundraising event of the year. Aug. 9 (29th annual in 2009).
  • Visit the ongoing gallery exhibitions of professional and student work.

For more information about Anderson Ranch Arts Center, call 970-923-3181 or visit

Destinations: Aspen, Snowmass Village

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Arts and Entertainment

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