“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…
Paul Soldner chooses Anderson Ranch as site for art center
Photo taken by Paul Soldner; copyright courtesy of Soldner Descendant's Trust
Brad Reed working in the ceramics studio
Brad Reed and Hank Marrow run Colorado Mountain College classes here in the late '60s
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
David Ellsworth in the woodturning studio
David launches the woodturning program, and the first painting workshops are offered
Tuesday night potlucks
Potluck dinners bring the Snowmass Village community and Anderson Ranch artists together
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
Sam Maloof teaches first woodworking workshop
Anderson Ranch becomes a 501(c)3 nonprofit
Mary Martin establishes the Snowmass Arts Foundation nonprofit (later changed to the Anderson Ranch Art Foundation)
Community leaders incorporate a Board of Trustees
Dows Barn in 1978
The printmaking studio is established in the basement of the Dows Barn
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
1st Annual Art Auction
Auctioneer Jim Chaffin and Director Brad Miller lead the festivities
The Ranch takes ownership
Chaffin and Light/Snowmass Corporation deeds all property and buildings to Anderson Ranch Arts Center
Renovation of Dows Barn
The Dows Barn Gallery (named after President of Directors, Judy Dows) opens and becomes first winterized year-round structure.
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.
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 Rusha, Red Grooms, Robert Mangold, Laurie Anderson, Robert Natkin and James Rosenquist.
Visiting Artist Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson is invited to participate in a print project with Bud Shark.
Inaugural California Clay in the Rockies
The first California Clay in the Rockies symposium attracts 100 attendees.
Ranch receives the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts
Sam Maloof Wood Barn opens
Children’s Art Program begins
Evelyn Siegel and Susan Casebeer launch workshops for children
First scholarship is offered
Emphasis on faculty
Ranch Director brings in top level Artistic Directors and Studio Coordinators to head programs
Fischer Photography Center opens
After breaking ground on the Fischer Photography Building in 1985, the new studio opens in 1986.
Artist-in-Residence works with a Studio Coordinator
Winter residency program begins with three emerging ceramic artists
Wyly House and Dining Hall opens
929 artists in 70 workshops
Anderson Ranch receives the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities Highest Merit Award
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
Bill Elzey photographing in the Grottos in Aspen, Colo.
Christo in the Anderson Ranch Patton-Malott Gallery
James Surls presenting to Aspen school children in the Anderson Ranch Patton-Malott Gallery
Siegel Children’s Building opens
Dee Wyly Painting Building opens
Print Shop expands
Schermer Meeting Hall replaces the tent
Anderson Ranch Arts Center joins the Alliance of Artist Communities
The Ranch forms connections with other art centers and schools
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.
Art all-stars work at the Ranch
Starn Twins, Dennis Hopper, Maya Lin, James Rosenquist, Calvin Thompson, Sally Mann and Larry Bell
Dennis Hopper and Doug Starn in the digital media lab
They are testing out Adobe Photoshop 1.0
Groundbreaking commences for the Soldner Ceramics Studio
Tim Berry and Bill Wylie in the Print Shop
David Ellsworth in the woodturning studio
Alumni come back year after year to teach workshops
Visiting Artist Jennifer Bartlett drawing Anderson Ranch from above
Artist-in-Residence Paul Anthony Smith
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
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...
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.
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.