This past weekend, over 500 of the world’s most distinguished and influential art collectors, artists, gallerists, museum professionals, and business leaders convened high in the Rocky Mountains for the Aspen Art Museum's annual summer benefit, ArtCrush. The benefit, one of the international contemporary art world’s most notable summer calendar highlights, provides significant funding for the AAM’s year-round curatorial and educational programming—totaling over $30 million in support since the benefit's first occurrence in 2005.
The multi-day event kicked off on Wednesday with WineCrush, an intimate cocktail and dinner party that AAM National Council Member and Event Chair Amy Phelan and her husband, AAM Board Chairman John Phelan, hosted in their home. Their guests mingled and admired the couple's impressive art collection before staying for the dinner. Opening remarks from John acknowledged the efforts of museum leadership, staff, and AAM CEO and Director Heidi Zuckerman, as well as the artists, gallerists, and sponsors who are key to the ongoing success of the AAM and ArtCrush event. He also welcomed the 2019 Aspen Award for Art honoree, Lisa Yuskavage.
WineCrush, at the home of John and Amy Phelan
The 2019 WineCrush dinner tent theme was Ruby Red, highlighting the museum’s celebration of its 40th anniversary year. The tent featured design by longtime AAM collaborators and supporters David Fox and Chris Stone, who together run an eponymous New York-based architecture and design firm, STONEFOX. After an evening of learning more about the event's key contributors, the guests were ready to hit the dance floor.
Chris Stone, John Phelan, Heidi Zuckerman, Amy Phelan, and David Fox
The weekend's festivities continued on Thursday with a rooftop conversation between Zuckerman and Yuskavage. The talk touched on aspects of the honoree’s artistic practice, with a focus on elements of landscape relating to the artist’s forthcoming solo exhibition, Wilderness, which will be on view at AAM from February 11 to May 31, 2020. Immediately following the talk were the PreviewCrush and PreviewExtra events, where guests took a glimpse at the art that would be available at the following evening's silent and live auctions.
The weekend culminated in the ArtCrush tent, where guests once again mingled over cocktails and enjoyed STONEFOX’s take on the festive Heavenly Rapture theme. In reference to Yuskavage’s paintings, the space radiated purples, bright greens, and ceilings of giant balloons, providing an exciting environment as Master Jay Fletcher and fellow sommeliers offered select wine tastings, and guests made bids on Silent Auction artworks.
Once the silent auction ended, guests entered the ArtCrush Dinner and Live Auction tent, where Amy thanked them in addition to event sponsors, fellow AAM leadership and staff, and attending artists and gallerists before welcoming Zuckerman to the stage to present the 2019 Aspen Award for Art to Yuskavage. Yuskavage, who earned her BFA from the Tyler School of Art and her MFA from Yale, is best known for her nude figure paintings and has shown her work in exhibitions the world over, including the Brandeis University's Rose Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, and Geneva's Centre d’Art Contemporain. The honoree's parents, who were unable to attend in person, teleconferenced in to watch their daughter's win.
Following the presentation of the Aspen Award for Art, Sotheby’s Senior Director Oliver Barker began the evening’s live auction, presiding over the event for the eighth consecutive year. The most highly contested lots included Sam Gilliam’s Focus III (2014), which was valued at $80,000 but gaveled at $185,000, and Yuskavage’s 2017 painting, Merlot, which drew a final sale figure of $450,000—over $125,000 more than its estimate.
Once the live auction had concluded, guests traveled by bus to the event's finale, AfterPartyCrush at BellyUp Aspen. There, they danced the night away to a DJ set by Bloom Twins.