Success Stories

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Aspen Skiing Company (CO) - Art Takes to the Slopes
Aspen Skiing Company (CO)
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Art Takes to the Slopes

Let’s face it: opposites attract. And there may be no place on earth that embodies this theory quite like Aspen, Colorado. As Aspen Skiing Company CEO Mike Kaplan says, “It’s got the heart of a city, but the soul of a mountain town.” Seven years ago, a unique partnership between Aspen Skiing Company and the Aspen Art Museum fused the city’s heart and soul by bringing art to unexpected places.


In 2005, the Aspen Art Museum’s new director and chief curator, Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, envisioned a new way to promote the town with the Aspen Skiing Company. Using the town’s iconic Aspen/Snowmass mountains as canvases, artists created showstopping (but not snow-stopping) sensations. Japanese artist Yutaka Sone, for one, rolled two vibrant 8-foot dice down the X Games Superpipe in 2006.


The Aspen Skiing Company even opened their minds and ears to auditory art. A February 2011 sound installation by Susan Philipsz brought beautiful, almost haunting a cappella singing to skiers crossing the Trestle Bridge. The invisible source of White Winter Hymnal gave skiers and riders reason to pause and appreciate the beauty and art of Aspen/Snowmass.


Still, other contributors used smaller canvases and pieces to combine sport and art. Since the partnership’s launch, each ski season has done away with standard lift tickets baring only barcodes, logos and expiration dates. Instead, Aspen/Snowmass lift tickets have featured the wide-ranging works of contemporary artists that were often scheduled for exhibitions at the Aspen Art Museum. Some, like Yutaka Sone’s 2005-2006 tickets, colorfully captured the joy and whimsy of the mountains. Others, like Carla Klein’s 2009-2010 tickets, offered reminders of the pristine conditions and exquisite views from the slopes. For the 2011-2012 season, sculptures by artist Mark Grotjahn installed on each of the four mountains were illustrated on lift tickets. As skiers returned throughout the season, their lift tickets served as reminders of the unexpected elements of both art and adventure in their journeys up and down the mountains.


The Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) acknowledged the efforts of the Aspen Skiing Company at its 25th Annual Business For the Arts Awards. The ongoing partnership with the Aspen Art Museum earned the Aspen Skiing Company the 2012 Impact Award, which honors companies that use the arts in innovative ways to drive business success in Colorado.Deborah Jordy, Executive Director, CBCA and Americans for the Arts Board Member says that, “The Aspen Skiing Company and Aspen Art Museum partnership epitomizes CBCA’s Impact Award – their partnership proves that integrating the arts into business not only differentiates Aspen from other ski resorts worldwide, but it also translates into economic success.”


According to Kaplan, “As a business we are trying to compete with destinations from around the world from Hawaii to other ski resorts.  How do you stand out from the crowd?  Well, you stand out by having this incredible arts experience and arts offering and cultural experiences and all those things in addition to the splendor and beauty of the mountains.”

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