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The Artists Are Present: Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Anderson Ranch is just like summer camp, except for the cocktails and the hands-on experience with some of the biggest names in art.

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Baseball fans famously have the option of going to fantasy camp to live out their dreams of playing in the big leagues. But art lovers have a similar, if more under-the-radar, opportunity at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, in Snowmass Village, Colorado.

Anderson Ranch, which turns 50 next year, is set amid spectacular mountain scenery 15 minutes from Aspen. Founded by artists for artists, it has carved out a unique meeting place for professionals—who come to do residencies, teach, and hone their skills—and for anyone who wants to enroll in one of the 140 summer workshops or attend a lecture in the star-studded summer series.

Big names and no-names mix together in classes and at barbecues and cocktail parties on the mile-and-a-half high campus. While the ranch prides itself on remaining above the art-world fray, its cultural timing has been impressive of late. It drew Steve McQueen the year he took home the best picture Oscar for his film 12 Years A Slave. And this summer, Anderson Ranch booked Frank Stella ahead of his major retrospective in September at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York. Participants will also include younger stars like Ryan Trecartin and Hank Willis Thomas.

Artists notice the sophistication of the audiences and the students at the ranch. “I was surprised by how well they knew my work, since it’s not that easy to understand,” says performance artist Marina Abramovic, who spoke at Anderson Ranch in 2013. “This crowd goes to biennials, to Documenta. They move around on the international scene.” Summer workshops are held through September 25; 5263 Owl Creek Rd.; andersonranch.org.

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