Jun 03

Visiting artist leaves a piece of Argentina behind in Aspen

Originally posted in The Aspen Times by Jeremy Wallace

Argentine artist Valeria Fiala wanted to bring her fellow artists of San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, to sister city Aspen to fill a gallery with their work and invite all of Aspen to see it. Though the municipal budget of the Sister Cities program couldn’t shoulder such a project, the creative Fiala still found a way.

On Wednesday she completed her “Galeria en Escala 1:10” installation in The Aspen Times window on East Hyman Avenue downtown, capping a busy two-week visit for the artist. The diorama-styled piece features works by 22 Bariloche artists miniaturized at a 1:10 ratio. Fiala also fashioned three-dimensional photo sculptures of her fellow artists and dozens of Aspenites to stand inside the gallery.

“I would love to have my own gallery, but as I cannot, I built it in the scale of my possibilities,” Fiala said Tuesday. “So this is a special art gallery that will be visited by 99 people, mostly people from Aspen.”

The miniaturized artworks in the installation cover a wide range of media from paintings and drawings to sculpture and photography and ceramics. The mini gallery floors, appropriately, are fashioned out of skis from The Thrift Shop of Aspen. Fiala previously constructed a similar installation for an exhibition in Bariloche.

“I worked very hard and I did my homework to come,” Fiala explained. “I said, ‘I don’t want to go and sightsee, I want to make some art and give a gift to Aspen.'”

She hopes the piece will serve as a small cultural bridge between these two like-minded mountain communities.

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“The most important thing to me is to involve other people so that they will feel they are involved in my art,” she said. “These 22 artists gave me their work because they wanted to participate in this idea. And these people photographed from Aspen will be participating, too.”

Through the Sister Cities program, Aspen and Bariloche in recent years have exchanged ski patrollers, firefighters, students and doctors. The two mountain towns began hosting exchanges and delegation visits in 2000, and officially declared themselves sister cities in 2012. Fiala is the first artist to make an official Aspen visit from Bariloche. Local artist Missy Pruden visited Bariloche in 2014 and is hosting Fiala during her stay here.

During Fiala’s time in Aspen, she opened a show of her charcoal drawings at the Woody Creek Community Center, gave a public talk at the Art Base in Basalt and one to the resident artists at the Red Brick Center for the Arts while also making the rounds to Roaring Fork Valley galleries.

Between all that and installing her miniature gallery, Fiala also managed to go skiing, hiking, cycling and made a visit to the Maroon Bells with Pruden.

“I kept saying, ‘I know you have to work on your art but you need to see the Maroon Bells!'” Pruden said. “She got there and she just started crying.”

When Fiala flies back to Argentina today, she’ll leave behind her mini gallery gift and an impression on the local arts community.

“I’ve found that there are very nice people here working in the arts, and I found that I need to come again,” she said.

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