The Aspen Art Collective has a new approach to marketing local artists. (Aspen Peak)
The business side of the art market can be daunting for emerging artists. Self-promotion, cultivating a network and courting collectors takes time—time that most artists prefer to spend creating their work. That’s where the Aspen Art Collective comes in. A venture by local entrepreneur and founder Madeline Dunn, who partnered with Courtney Gray in July 2018 to handle digital marketing, AAC shoulders many of the business burdens for local artists and provides them a shared platform to showcase their talents alongside other creatives from the Roaring Fork Valley. Dunn, an accomplished ski mountaineer and ice climber, moved to Aspen to pursue her outdoor passions but quickly recognized an opportunity in the local art community—a group that consisted of hundreds of artists with few chances to display their work. A serendipitous meeting with Gray, who has a digital development and strategy background, gave further shape to the collective concept.
Conventional galleries typically sign exclusive contracts with artists to represent their work in brick-and-mortar spaces, a model with high overhead and expenses. Dunn explains that AAC “is a nonexclusive agency that promotes cross affiliation with other organizations to increase the audience for our artists... we believe our business model of distributed risk is undoubtedly beneficial for them." Without a permanent physical space, Dunn and Gray seek to foster the careers of their artists through public and private commission work, subsidized pop-up shows, a broad range of digital exposure and community engagement opportunities. They also take the show on the road, with a plan to return to Aqua for a second annual group show during Art Basel in Miami scheduled for 2019.