History

An Art Original Since 1966

“It is a center, not a school. We’re different.” — Paul Soldner, Founder of Anderson Ranch Arts Center

In the beginning…

It was the vision of prominent American raku ceramist Paul Soldner combined with an incredible land opportunity that paved the way for what Anderson Ranch is today—one of the most respected visual arts programs in the country.

In 1966, just as the ski industry began to blossom, local resort developers envisioned an arts and cultural center for the valley and surrounding community. They called on Soldner, who chose the Anderson Ranch property as the location for that venue, to make it a reality.

Soldner and his contemporaries, photographer Cherie Hiser, clay sculptor Peter Voulkos, woodworker Sam Maloof and many others, planted the seeds for an arts center that was decidedly different from existing degree-focused programs.

“It seemed important that we do things differently than can be done in college,” Soldner expressed early on. Thus, core principles of the Ranch were born and are still carried on today:

  • small class sizes allowing for personal attention and access to faculty
  • 24/7 studio availability to encourage unbridled creativity
  • art making as a way of life and a professional path
  • the value of giving more than you take–and making for others to enjoy

There was much personal sacrifice required to make those initial dreams a reality—one which continues to evolve and grow. Follow the timeline below to see the major milestones achieved along the way…

Anderson Ranch Timeline

1966

Paul Soldner chooses Anderson Ranch as site for art center

Photo taken by Paul Soldner; copyright courtesy of Soldner Descendant’s Trust

1969

Brad Reed working in the ceramics studio

Brad Reed and Hank Marrow run Colorado Mountain College classes here in the late ’60s

1971

David Ellsworth in the woodturning studio

David launches the woodturning program, and the first painting workshops are offered

1971

Tuesday night potlucks

Potluck dinners bring the Snowmass Village community and Anderson Ranch artists together

1973

Center of the Hand (Paul Soldner) joins with Center of the Eye (Cherie Hiser) to form Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Photo of Cherie Hiser taken by David Hiser

1973

Sam Maloof teaches first woodworking workshop

1973

Anderson Ranch becomes a 501(c)3 nonprofit

Mary Martin establishes the Snowmass Arts Foundation nonprofit (later changed to the Anderson Ranch Art Foundation)

1974

Community leaders incorporate a Board of Trustees

1978

Anderson Ranch with Mount Daly in the background

Rustic log buildings are collected from four ranches in the valley and brought to Anderson Ranch Arts Center

1978

Dows Barn in 1978

The printmaking studio is established in the basement of the Dows Barn

1979

1st Annual Art Auction

The first Annual Art Auction was lead by Director Caleb Bach in 1979. Pictured left is the Auction in 1985 with Auctioneer Jim Chaffin and Director Brad Miller leading the festivities.

1980

Anderson Ranch transforms from a sleepy summer workshop program to a dynamic year-round arts center

– Catalog model for summer workshop mailing is put into action
– Mass mailing to several thousand (previous only 100)
– Increased number of workshops
– Community rallied behind first major capital improvements
– First contributions from valley residents and businesses
– First grant is written and received – from the Boettcher Foundation

1981

The Ranch takes ownership

Chaffin and Light/Snowmass Corporation deeds all property and buildings to Anderson Ranch Arts Center

1981

Renovation of Dows Barn

The Dows Barn Gallery (named after President of Directors, Judy Dows) opens and becomes first winterized year-round structure.

1981

The Gates Barn

Chaffin and Light/Snowmass Corporation give the Gates Barn to Anderson Ranch. The barn is moved from the golf course. Anderson Ranch continues to collect ranch buildings from the Brush Creek Valley.

1981

First Visiting Artist project

Summer painter/printmaker collaboration program begins, bringing nationally recognized artists to Anderson Ranch to work with master printers Bud Shark and Craig O’Brien. Artists include Ed Ruscha, Red Grooms, Robert Mangold, Laurie Anderson, Robert Natkin and James Rosenquist.

1982

Visiting Artist Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson is invited to participate in a print project with Bud Shark.

1983

Inaugural California Clay in the Rockies

The first California Clay in the Rockies symposium attracts 100 attendees.

1984

Ranch receives the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts

1984

Sam Maloof Wood Barn opens

1984

Children’s Art Program begins

Evelyn Siegel and Susan Casebeer launch workshops for children

1985

First scholarship is offered

1985

Emphasis on faculty

Ranch Director brings in top level Artistic Directors and Studio Coordinators to head programs

1986

Fischer Photography Center opens

After breaking ground on the Fischer Photography Building in 1985, the new studio opens in 1986.

1986

Artist-in-Residence works with a Studio Coordinator

Winter residency program begins with three emerging ceramic artists

1988

Wyly House and Dining Hall opens

1989

Record–breaking enrollment

929 artists in 70 workshops

1990

Anderson Ranch receives the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities Highest Merit Award

1990

Construction of new buildings increases the Ranch campus size to 55,000 sq ft

Architect Harry Teague begins renovation of key Ranch buildings, the start of a 30-year relationship with the Ranch

1990

The Carlson Cabin

The Carlson Cabin, later renamed the Marbrook Cabin, was relocated to make way for the current painting building.

1990

Bill Elzey photographing in the Grottos in Aspen, Colo.

1990

Christo in the Anderson Ranch Patton-Malott Gallery

1990

James Surls presenting to Aspen school children in the Anderson Ranch Patton-Malott Gallery

1990

Siegel Children’s Building opens

1991

Dee Wyly Painting Building opens

1992

Print Shop expands

1993

Schermer Meeting Hall replaces the tent

1993

Anderson Ranch Arts Center joins the Alliance of Artist Communities

The Ranch forms connections with other art centers and schools

1994

Takashi Nakazato in the Visiting Artist studio

Takashi is a 13th generation potter from Karatsu, Japan, and has been a Visiting Artist of the Ranch for 20 years.

1995

Art all-stars work at the Ranch

Starn Twins, Dennis Hopper, Maya Lin, James Rosenquist, Calvin Thompson, Sally Mann and Larry Bell

1995

Dennis Hopper and Doug Starn in the digital media lab

They are testing out Adobe Photoshop 1.0

1996

Groundbreaking commences for the Soldner Ceramics Studio

2000

Tim Berry and Bill Wylie in the Print Shop

2002

David Ellsworth in the woodturning studio

Alumni come back year after year to teach workshops

2002

Visiting Artist Jennifer Bartlett drawing Anderson Ranch from above

2011

Artist-in-Residence Paul Anthony Smith

2014

Anne Pasternak in Conversation with Steve McQueen

Anderson Ranch presents a two-day symposium, “Making the Change They Want to See”, with keynote speaker and Oscar-winner, Steve McQueen

2014

Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s Scholarship/Partnership Program is established

Anderson Ranch partners with colleges and universities to award scholarships to upper level aspiring artists, bringing undergraduate and graduate art students from a broad array of backgrounds to the Ranch. Partner schools include Amherst, CalArts, Georgia State, Harvard University, Kansas City Art Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, Skidmore, Syracuse, UCLA, University of Colorado, University of Texas, Austin, Washington University, Yale University and over 50 more…

2015

Anderson Ranch honors Frank Stella with the National Artist Award

Board of Trustees Chair, Ann Korologos, with Frank Stella and Executive Director, Nancy Wilhelms, at the 2015 Recognition Dinner at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen.

2016

50th Anniversary

The Ranch celebrates its 50th Anniversary and plans for the next 50, a bright future filled with exciting opportunities to fulfill our mission and create change.

Click here for 50th Anniversary Supporters.