Come for the Slopes, Stay for the Art: Your Guide to Must-See Exhibitions at Snowy Resorts
There's more to these resort towns than just winter sports.
There's more to these resort towns than just winter sports.
The temperature has officially dipped to frosty digits, and the streets smell perpetually of pine needles and roasted chestnuts—it is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year. For many people, the weeks leading up to the new year marks an ideal time to take a vacation and reflect on the last 12 months. Jet-setters typically fall into two camps: those who flock to warmer climes, and those who double down on the magic of winter and set off to chase the snow. While many visitors to the mountain towns that serve as arctic playgrounds for winter sports enthusiasts, some prefer to be swathed in warm corduroys than to carve through it on a blue-bird morning.
Luckily, many of the world-renown mountain towns and ski resorts are also home to world-class art museums and galleries, proving that there is something for everyone at these alpine retreats. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting art exhibitions now on view at these snowy resort destinations.
The Aspen Art Museum is the crown jewel of the mountain town’s art scene, centrally located in the heart of the city—and while it’s best known as the host of the ArtCrush Gala in August, it is a year-round destination for contemporary art exhibitions and events. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Shigeru Ban, the distinctive wooden-lattice-wrapped exterior plays into Ban’s description of the institution: “Because the museum doesn’t have collections, there are many different exhibitions—it’s like a basket, you can put anything you like inside.”
This December, a new painting by contemporary star Issy Wood debuts at the museum alongside work by the late Colombian painter Fernando Botero. The juxtaposition, accompanied by a new text by Wood, is the most recent iteration in a series of artist-led presentations titled “Lover’s Discourse” that draws connections between contemporary work and often unexpected companion pieces. Previous iterations featured artists Zeinab Saleh, Chase Hall, Ulala Imai, and Guglielmo Castelli.
Founded in 2011, Casterline | Goodman gallery is a mainstay of both contemporary and Post-War art in the mountain town. With locations in the heart of downtown and at the five-star Little Nell Hotel, the gallery features a rotating cycle of thoughtfully-curated exhibitions and an extensive inventory of artists including Alex Katz, Frank Stella, Tom Wesselmann, and Helen Frankenthaler, and represents artists including Alexander Höller, Seth Fiifi Afful, Tyler Shields, and David Yarrow.
An exhibition of Yarrow’s striking black-and-white photographs is on view now, displaying the artist’s fantastical narrative images. Deftly capturing subjects including both Hollywood actors and celebrities as well as wildlife and landscapes. While seemingly disparate subjects themes, Yarrow’s lens captures the grace and stately bearing that is shared by practiced performers and great wild animals. Highlights include J-Bar, a cinematic image that conjures the spirit of the famed saloon-style bar at the Jerome Hotel and Snow Monster, in which snow-dusted bison confront the viewer with fierce elegance.
The town of Taos, New Mexico is both a historic destination and one brimming with youthful energy. Located in the north-central region of New Mexico in the heart of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, its name, which translates to “(place of) red willows” is shared with the nearby Native American Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest communities within the United States. In 1915, six artists banded together to form the Taos Society of Artists, and the town has remained a cultural hub drawing such luminaries as Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, Dennis Hopper, Ken Price, and Judy Chicago.
The Harwood Museum of Art at the University of New Mexico is celebrating 100 years since artists and philanthropists Burt and Lucy Harwood established their eponymous foundation, which they envisioned as a “Salon of the Southwest” that could rival the artistic communities in New York and Paris. In addition to the scores of works on loan to honor the centennial, the permanent collection remains a must-see for all visitors. One particular highlight is the Agnes Martin Gallery, featuring seven paintings by the acclaimed abstract artist who lived and worked in Taos until her death in 2004. The bespoke room is more akin to a chapel than a white-cube art gallery, with four Donald Judd-designed benches arranged beneath the museum’s oculus to encourage contemplation and reflection, while basking in the serene beauty of Martin’s masterpieces.
After stints at Kasmin in New York and as a curator and art advisor in Denver, veteran curator Ari Myers moved to Taos and opened the contemporary art space the Valley. In the few years since its debut, it has emerged as a distinctive and leading voice within the artistic community, and recently moved into a new space, a large 100-year-old adobe building. On view now through January 6, 2024 is “Waters of Ours,” an exhibition of new works on paper by Richmond, Virginia-based artist Lowe Fehn. The theme of water runs throughout the works, as both a metaphor and a physical presence that invites both looking deeper and further beyond. The works have a hazy, dreamlike quality, as if depicting a scene conjured from memory, sun-dappled and mid-movement.
Over the last few years, individuals have been nudged, rather forcefully, to reassess their relationship with the natural world. Worldwide isolation measures prevented extensive travel, and the challenge of remaining in one place became an opportunity to reevaluate our most immediate surroundings. The impetus for “Sightings” arose with the understanding that many artists began to look to the night sky as a source of comfort and inspiration—a beautiful and comforting constant in a time of upheaval.
The Sun Valley Museum of Art is uniquely located at the edge of the iconic Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve—a 1,415-square-mile area designated by the International Dark Sky Association for its breathtaking open views of the Milky Way in all its glory. Regulations prevent excess light sources from diminishing optimal views of the stars that draw photographers and stargazers from around the world, and musings about the existence of extraterrestrial life forms abound. The artists in “Sightings” each address the night sky individually, as both a source of mystery and logic.
The fine art gallery located in the resort community of Sun Valley is celebrating the season with its annual group exhibition, fittingly titled “Deck the Walls.” A wide range of works in media including painting, photography, and collage show the breadth of range within the gallery’s dynamic artist roster.
Ellie Davies is a Dorset-based photographer who trains her lens on the majesty of the natural world, particularly the forests in Dorset and Hampshire in southern England. In Seascapes Triptych 3: Birch, the swirls of light surrounding the pine tree native to the U.K. could be read as either stars twinkling in a dark night sky, or the reflection of light on water.
Nestled deep within the Engadin Valley, the Swiss town of St. Moritz is world renown as a playground for the rich and famous for good reason. Boasting stunning natural beauty in the glaciers and snow-capped mountains that surround it, as well as a wealth of luxury boutiques and world-class hotels, it’s an ideal venue for both serious winter sports enthusiasts and snow bunnies more interested in the après ski scene. Off piste, the city fondly known as the “Top of the World” is home to world-class art galleries, including Vito Schnabel Gallery and Hauser & Wirth; plus a slew of historic and contemporary museums.
The picturesque setting—which has been featured in multiple James Bond films including Goldfinger and The Spy Who Loved Me, and more recently served as the hideaway for Maurizio Gucci in the 2001 film The House of Gucci—is also the inspiration for a suite of works by acclaimed German artist Gerhard Richter, who is being feted with a trio of exhibitions in and around St. Moritz. More than 70 works on loan from museums and private collections have been reunited as a singular body of work made over the course of 30 years, during which time the artist frequently visited the lakes and mountains of the area.
Another city known for its upscale offerings is of course, Gstaad, located in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps. Dubbed simply “The Place” by Time magazine in the 1960s, Gstaad enjoys a rosy reputation bolstered by regular visitors including Madonna, Valentino, Grace Kelly, and Princess Diana. It is also a destination for eminent art worlders like collector and LUMA Foundation founder Maja Hoffman, art historian Oiver Berggruen, and the late modern artist Balthus.
Naturally, mega-gallery Gagosian has an outpost in the chic Alpine town. A new exhibition opening on December 20 is “Abstract Explorations: 100 Years on Paper,” which tracks the evolution of abstraction over the course of of the early 20th century through today. Work by artists including Wassily Kandinsky, Cy Twombly, Helen Frankenthaler, and Albert Oehlen chart the enduring appeal of abstraction.
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