This season’s lift tickets were created by artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III.
We could all use a little positivity these days. And that’s exactly what the artists Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III are giving Aspen this winter. A symbol of hope is currently displayed above the Silver Queen Gondola at the base of Aspen Mountain. The artists’ “Little Cloud”—an illuminated cloud with a smiling face—is merely one of many FriendsWithYou art pieces that can be seen throughout Aspen Snowmass this ski season.
Borkson and Sandoval were tapped by Aspen Skiing Company, or SkiCo (aspensnowmass.com), to design this year’s ski passes as part of the company’s Art in Unexpected Places initiative. As a nod to Aspen’s robust culture and art scene, the organization began incorporating art through on-mountain installations, lift ticket artwork, branded apparel and more since 2005.
The lift ticket art program first began as a partnership between the Aspen Art Museum (aspenartmuseum.org) and SkiCo with the goal of bringing contemporary art to audiences in new and unexpected places. Previously, Aspen Snowmass featured commissioned works by internationally recognized artists like Susan Te Kahurangi King, Hank Willis Thomas, Laura Owens and Takashi Murakami. Each artist’s contributions were inspired by emotions, theories and beliefs shared by both the artists and SkiCo.
Past lift tickets from renowned artists including Yutaka Sone
For example, the Susan Te Kahurangi King lift ticket art series captured emotions felt during life’s vivid moments—much like the joy felt “spending time in our beautiful mountains and incredible community,” says Mike Kaplan, president and CEO of SkiCo. Hank Willis Thomas recontextualized his text-based work inspired by 1960 to ’80 cigarette advertisements to empower skiers to conquer higher altitudes through oxygen and the importance of protecting our environment.
The approach of this year’s selected artists, Borkson and Sandoval, is a bit more literal than in years past. With smiling faces plastered on brightly colored, positive-looking characters, FriendsWithYou encourages and draws on ideas of inclusivity, unity, kindness, joy and optimism. “One thing has become exceedingly evident: Skiing and riding feel more vital than ever, and so does lifting one another up and sparking joy in the little things,” says Kaplan. “Aspen Snowmass has always been driven to delight and inspire everyone who visits this incredible place, and our collaboration with FriendsWithYou does just that.”
Borkson and Sandoval see their work as a mix of Andy Warhol’s Factory and Walt Disney, both of whom transcended cultures and borders. In addition to the joyful, fun-loving, rainbow-colored lift ticket designs and the lightbox “Little Cloud,” which will remain above Aspen’s Gondola Plaza through the end of 2023, the artists’ “The Dance” performance work can be seen three times a week at Snowmass Base Village’s ice-skating rink. Large, fluffy balls of ice dance around the rink exhibiting joy and unity. “This is the perfect year to [install “Little Cloud” at] Aspen Snowmass,” says Sandoval. “Everybody needs a little light right now.”
Photography by: ASPEN SKIING COMPANY