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  • Writer's pictureZ Group Architecture & Interior Design

The Z Group Team Exploring Art and Architecture at the Aspen Art Museum

At Z Group Architecture & Interior Design, we believe in the power of inspiration and how it can shape our creativity; our recent team trip to the Aspen Art Museum was no exception. We had the opportunity to admire the architectural marvel and immerse ourselves in the enthralling world of John Chamberlain's artwork.

Z Group Team Photo at Aspen Art Museum

We gathered for lunch at the museum's Rooftop Café, currently run by husband-and-wife duo The Farmer & Chef, for a delicious meal made with locally sourced food followed by the best chocolate chip cookies in the valley. Our visit commenced with a guided tour by Kathy Marques, the Community Program Manager, and Michael Raab, the Education Coordinator. The museum is a unique architectural masterpiece designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban. Ban envisioned a "skiing" concept for his initial designs, inviting guests to start by ascending the staircase (or the elevator, aka "the gondola") as one would enter the ski lift only a few blocks away. From the rooftop, stunning views of Ajax, Red Mountain, and Independence Pass greet visitors - the experience is breathtaking. Most architecturally exciting, perhaps, was the ceiling design - this large yet intricate building employs a structural truss design with innovative and lyrical structural members woven throughout. The Ceiling is just as visually interesting as the view. 

John Chamberlain's artwork mesmerized us with its varying processes and scales. Jaimal couldn't help but be intrigued by the rusted car graveyard steel harmonizing with the sculptures' organic forms, inviting lively discourse within the team. We were struck by the transformative nature of Chamberlain's works, like Transformers from our childhoods. The sculptures' connection to their original source material, visible by traces of car trunks, fascinated Scott particularly. Amongst his creations, the galvanized steel sculptures captured the hearts of Katie and Seth, standing out as their personal favorites within the exhibition.

Descending to the lower floor in the basement, our journey concluded with smaller sculptural pieces and a captivating video slideshow installation showcasing John Chamberlain's photographic work throughout the years. Because he kept his camera waist high, the photos captured a casual, sometimes blurry, always candid view of his passage through time, friends, food, and experience. Immersed in the ambiance, we found ourselves comfortably perched atop a large makeshift couch, indulging in the visual storytelling before us. The incredible synchronization of seven projectors seamlessly projecting onto three walls left us in awe, marveling at the technical prowess behind the installation.

During our visit to the Aspen Art Museum, we had the incredible opportunity to go behind the scenes and explore the "back of house" areas. It was fascinating to witness the inner workings of the museum and gain a deeper understanding of the efforts that go into curating such impactful exhibitions. As an added bonus, we got to experience the massive elevator, we affectionately referred to as the "VIP gondola". Riding the elevator was an adventure in itself, as it provided us with a unique perspective of the building's architecture and allowed us to appreciate its grandeur from a different vantage point. It was a true privilege to see the museum's inner workings, adding another layer of excitement to our visit.

The Z Group Team in the massive art elevator at aspen art museum

After the tour, we gathered to unwind and celebrate with happy hour at Buck Bar and Kitchen, a recent project completion that we couldn't be prouder of. If you haven't checked out Aspen's go-to local spot, you are missing out! This project features a thoughtfully designed ski wall, large bar, reclaimed table from the Red Onion, and gorgeous stained glass windows from Crystal Palace, as well as stone gabion wall details. The design pays homage to Aspen's history and love for outdoor adventure. 

Over drinks and fries, we exchanged thoughts and observations about the artwork and museum design. When asked about specific artwork or architectural elements that caught our attention, Jessye compared the experience of moving between Chamberlain's massive yet flowy and weightless steel sculptures to scuba diving amongst delicate corals. Scott found the roof truss structure of the museum to be utterly amazing, an architectural feat in itself. Kevin drew a connection to local Aspen artist Mark Cesark, noting similarities between Chamberlain's work and Cesark's distinctive style and use of materials. Brittany noted that his work has also been likened to that of the 'bumper art' pioneered by the late Lou Wille, an Aspen local whose sculptures still grace numerous lawns across Colorado.

Our visit to the Aspen Art Museum reaffirmed our belief that art and architecture intertwine, inspiring each other and leaving an indelible mark on the world around us. However, the highlight of our team outing was undoubtedly the strengthening of our community spirit. This excursion wasn't just about breaking free from our desks or exploring new environments; it was about spending time together and connecting over art, design, and tasty drinks! In embarking on this field trip together, we were able to move at a different pace, make memories, and share a great day out in Aspen. The growth and unity we experienced as a group continues to resonate within our work, embodying our collective commitment to creating architectural and interior designs that stand as testaments to both individual stories and our shared journey. 

Visit the Aspen Art Museum's website to learn more about the current exhibitions. Remember, every Tuesday at 2:00 p.m., you can enjoy a free museum tour and embark on your own artistic journey.

Please stay connected with us for more updates on our architectural ventures and design inspirations. Until then, keep creating, exploring, and embracing the beauty surrounding us.

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