BY ROBERT GLAZE
Aspen is a place of great beauty where one can come to regroup and refocus. As envisioned by Walter Paepcke of Chicago, who created the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival, the town is a “center for dialogue; a place for lifting us out of our usual selves.” It was to be a place where people could develop in body, mind, and spirit. This became known as the “Aspen Idea.”
Today in Aspen, the “Aspen Idea” is alive and well. You will find interesting, well-educated people who have a passion for being in nature, for the arts, and for expanding their minds. Many of the people who live in the valley are here strictly for the amazing lifestyle the area makes possible. There are very few places in the country that are the size of Aspen that offer so much. I love it and have had a place at the Snowmass Club for 17 years. Come check it out this season for yourself!
Enjoy the beauty of the area by getting out and skiing its four mountains. If you don’t ski, you can still enjoy cross-country or snowshoeing. And afterwards, there are some great cultural offerings, restaurants, and galleries to explore.
The Aspen Music Festival and School have carried on the vision of creativity and education that started with the 1949 Goethe Bicentennial Convocation. Check out the calendar for one of their performances at the Harris Concert Hall near the Music Tent.
Founded in 1990 by longtime Aspenite Bebe Schweppe, the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is one of the largest dance presenters in the country, welcoming the best in dance in both Aspen and Santa Fe. They are a nationally recognized dance company and a leader in the dance world, acquiring and commissioning work from top choreographers. Aspen Performances are held at the Aspen District Theater. The ASFB also hosts other dance companies throughout the year.
Each April, Aspen Film holds the Aspen Shortsfest, one of the world’s premier international short film and video showcases. All at 40 minutes or less, there are selections of drama, comedy, animation, and documentary shorts. This is one of my favorite festivals of the year.
During the winter and spring months, make sure to the JAS Cafe, sponsored by Jazz Aspen Snowmass, downstairs at the Little Nell Hotel. There is a package where you can have dinner before at the Ajax Tavern in the hotel and then head downstairs for dessert and great music.
The Aspen Art Museum‘s new $45 million building recently opened to great fanfare—and some controversy—in downtown Aspen. The contemporary building was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and has three floors of galleries, a rooftop deck, and a cafe overlooking the mountains. Featured exhibitions this winter include large works by Julian Schnabel plus works by Mary Ramsden, Adam McEwen, and Jack Pierson.
Located in Snowmass Village, the Anderson Ranch Arts Center is one of nation’s premier art education institutions in the country. It has amazing workshops in ceramics, sculpture, woodworking and furniture making, painting and printmaking, digital photography, and a host of other mediums. It offers a residency program for qualified artists during the winter and many community outreach programs and lectures. Check the website and local papers for artist talks during the residency program as well as other programs and open studios.
The famed Aspen Institute features a number of programs and lectures during the winter and spring months. Check out their website for details. If you can’t make one of the programs, at least don’t miss exploring the grounds. In the 1950s, Walter Paepcke commissioned Bauhaus architect and artist Herbert Bayer to create the campus for the institute, and the right environment for the leaders to live and learn. From 1953 to 1973, Bayer designed the buildings and the landscape architecture known as Earthworks. On the grounds you will see these landscape sculptures and other sculptures: Bayer’s graffito mural on the Koch Building and his Kaleidoscreen completed in 1957; a Buckminster Fuller Geodesic Dome; and Andy Goldworthy’s Stone River, a red sandstone serpentine wall that winds into and through the Doerr-Hosier building. A number of Bayer’s tapestries can also be seen throughout the institute.
The famed Wheeler Opera House, built in 1893, is the venue for film, comedy performances, concerts, and Live from the Met productions. Tours are available during the week.
Dining in Aspen and Snowmass
One of the hot spots in town is the contemporary and sophisticated Chef’s Club by Food & Wine at the St. Regis Aspen Resort. For this project, Food & Wine has collaborated with several of the chefs from its “Best New Chefs” list, connecting them and the culinary team of the restaurant to create a new dining experience. The award-winning chefs consult and curate new and innovative menu items, with the menu changing several times a year as new chefs are invited to participate.
Also new and trendy is the White House Tavern (302 East Hopkins). Located in an old house built in 1883, this inviting gastropub has great art on the walls and extensive cocktail and wine lists. The burgers and salads are excellent and the prices reasonable.
One of my favorite restaurants of the past in Aspen was Mogador. Barclay Dodge, the former owner, is now back in town and has opened BOSQ at 312 South Mill Street. It has a lovely outdoor deck for summer dining and a sleek, contemporary dining room. Focusing on “new world cuisine,” the menu features a number of creative appetizers, salads, entrées, and sides.
Located at 525 East Cooper Avenue, bb’s is a fun restaurant now open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. I went for lunch a week ago on a snowy day in town and loved the kale salad! While the food, menu selections, and service are all good, the stylish, colorful decor is the true highlight!
The former Lulu’s is now Steak House No. 316 (316 East Hopkins Avenue). The food, service, and atmosphere are excellent. It is perfect on a cold snowy night. In addition to their incredible steaks, there are many seafood options—the Colorado striped bass with Himalayan red rice, pine nuts, horseradish crème fraîche, and micro beet salad was a great choice.
Meat and Cheese (319 East Hopkins Avenue), owned by the same people as Avalanche Cheese Company in Basalt, has a great selection of gourmet food items, meats, and cheeses. There is also a great cafe serving soups, salads, and sandwiches. Everything is so fresh. I thought the brisket sandwich was really wonderful and highly recommend you try it!
Grey Lady Aspen, at 305 East Mill Street, is the Aspen branch of the East Village restaurant in NYC, featuring New England seafood specialties like crab cakes and lobster rolls. It has a warm yet contemporary dining room.
Across from Ajax Tavern on the other side of the gondola is Shlomo’s Deli & Grill. At 501 East Dean Street, this casual spot offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. It has a good brunch menu but also features pizzas, sandwiches, salads, burgers, pasta, and other Jewish deli specialties. It has a great patio for outdoor dining.
In Snowmass, make sure to try the newly opened Slow Groovin’ BBQ at 67 Elbert Lane. I have been to their great location in Marble, Colorado, but they opened this as their winter destination. This is a new hot spot with a casual decor and a bar. They feature barbecue ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and chicken plus smoked items like sausage, salmon, and turkey. You can get a number of soups, salads, sandwiches, platters, and combination platters. I loved the brisket with corn bread, slaw, and baked beans. To top it off, the Smokey Old Fashioned was the perfect cocktail!
Books, Gifts, and Galleries
Located in an old Victorian house, Explore Booksellers (221 East Main Street) is the perfect place to get lost. It has a great selection including bestsellers, art books, and many books on travel. The cafe upstairs is one of my favorite spots in town.
One of the best galleries in town is Galerie Maximillian at 602 East Cooper Avenue, which offers 19th-20th century masterworks on paper and contemporary British and American art.
I never miss Amen Wardy. They have a new location at 520 East Durant that’s great for gifts, tabletop, and home accessories!
Thanks to ArtAspen in August, I found Christopher Martin who does wonderful abstract contemporary pieces. Make sure to visit his gallery at 525 East Cooper.
Located at 209 South Galena, Baldwin Gallery is one of the best contemporary art galleries in town.
Harvey Meadows Gallery (517 East Hopkins) is an excellent gallery that recently moved downtown from Aspen Highlands. They specialize in contemporary ceramics, prints, and works on paper. Check out their current exhibitions.
Where to Stay
I love the Hotel Jerome. Reopened after a major rehab, this historic hotel is back as the best in Aspen. It is now an Auberge Resort and is located at 330 East Main Street. The lobby and restaurant have been redone and a new living room, serving food and drinks, has been added with a great blend of historic as well as contemporary style. The best word to describe the overall look is “stunning”!
The J- Bar (or Jerome Bar) is still there as the iconic Western saloon, which has been there since the hotel opened in the 1880s. You will have a very good lunch or dinner experience in the redone Prospect restaurant—try the meatloaf on a cold, snowy day in Aspen. The restaurant has been totally updated and is a far cry from the Jerome restaurant of 30 years ago when it looked straight out of the wild west.
For more travel destinations and recommendations, visit globalphile.com.