Aspen Art Museum invited an artist to reinvent their gift shop. Now it’s a bazaar selling false teeth and drawings for $ 50,000

For next year, shoppers at the Aspen Art Museum store may feel like they’ve wandered into something quite different from a generic museum store, with the typical Frida Kahlo posters, Mondrian scarves and Warhol coasters. And indeed, they will, because the museum asked New York artist Jonathan Berger to completely rethink the venue, from exhibit furniture to stock and background music.

Berger has always loved stores, especially the quirky, one-owner type, and the distinctive environments they create. “I was one of the last employees of Little Rickie,” Berger told Artnet News, referring to a novelty store in New York’s East Village that closed in 1999 after a 15-year run. . “It was a beloved and culturally significant store.”

“There’s a Starbucks over there now,” he added.

“You would see Hell’s Angels and an Upper East Side chintz queen and kids projects across the street, learning and shopping together in the best New York way,” he said. he declares. “You could buy a lenticular watch ring for ten cents or a Harold Finster painting for $ 5,000, because that’s what they cost back then. “

The objects on display at the Aspen Museum, coming from as far away as India, China, Japan and Italy, cover a wide range, from new to antiquity, from jewelry to toys, from perfumes to articles. novelty like imitation false teeth, as well as fine art. Prizes range from free (for the fortune teller fish that curls up in your hand) to $ 50,000 (for designs by self-taught artist James Castle). Artist Julie Tolentino creates a sculpture that will double as a counter, and shoppers will enjoy a soundtrack compiled by New York DJ Ramdasha Bikceem as they try on clothes made exclusively for the store by Glenwood Springs Mountain Valley Weavers in collaboration with fashion label BODE, including a cotton jacket labeled at $ 980. They will also measure a Davis Vaginal painting for $ 3,000.

Vaginal Davis, Light Blue Eugenie DeGuérin, 2012. Courtesy of Adams and Ollman, Portland; Isabella Bortolozzi Gallery, Berlin; and New Discretions, New York.

And the list of designers with goods in hand is growing, including, among visual artists, Sister Corita Kent, Isamu Noguchi, Dean Sameshima and Eugene Von Bruenchenhein. Among the designers are Comme des Garçons and Walter Van Beirendonck; there is the jeweler Cara Croninger; furniture makers Charles and Ray Eames; and artist and musician Michael Stipe, all in a space of approximately 20 by 24 feet.

Berger took inspiration from former stores run by artists including Claes Oldenburg, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Keith Haring, and Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas. Berger also takes his hat off to the tradition of Wunderkammer, or “cabinet of curiosities,” the exhibits that Old World nobles often set up in their homes, which are considered to be the forerunners of the institution of the museum itself.

In addition to Berger’s experience in retail stores like Little Rickie, he also knows museums. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Queens Museum of Art, as well as in exhibitions such as the Busan Biennale.

In several of his projects, Berger uses objects to compose sort of portraits, and while the Aspen store is not just a portrait of Philip Retzky, the owner of Little Rickie, Berger tries to capture something of the democratic spirit. that he created there.

“There was something deep in the fact that the care given to all objects was equal. Everyone mattered. It sounds sentimental, ”he added,“ but it’s true. ”

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Reggie S. Williams

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