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Anderson Ranch Arts Center, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016, comprises 14 ranch buildings on five acres in the heart of Snowmass Village. Photo courtesy of Anderson Ranch Arts Center

5 Reasons to Attend an Art Camp for Grown-Ups

Why should kids have all the fun this summer? Sign up for a weeklong art workshop at Snowmass Village's Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and discover your inner Picasso.

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In many ways, art camp at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, a five-acre hub of creativity in the heart of Snowmass Village, is a lot like the summer camps of your youth—think: mountain air, bunk beds, simple meals, bear sightings. But the takeaway is a far cry from tie-dyed t-shirts and bead bracelets. Here, more than 150 weeklong, all-inclusive summer workshops (which run through late-September) cover everything from ceramics, photography, painting, and printmaking to digital fabrication, furniture design, sculpture, and woodworking. Students leave with ideas, techniques, and lessons gleaned from some of the world’s most talented makers—and a more confident inner artist, too. Here, five reasons to sign up this summer:

There’s something for everyone. Whether you’ve never put paint to paper or you’ve been a working artist for years, you’ll find plenty of company here. Summer workshops range in difficulty from beginner (level 1) to advanced (level 4), and a variety of “open to all” classes invite students of all skill levels. Topics covering eight disciplines range from basic (“Sculpture: clay, wood, steel”) to downright esoteric (“Watercolor Monotypes: the rabbit hole of stencils”). The ranch also offers a robust slate of workshops for kids ages 4–14, covering everything from iPhone photography to video-game design.

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The teachers are top-notch. Instructors include faculty from top art and design schools, and talented working artists—including some you’ve seen in the pages of 5280, like ceramist Giselle Hicks. This summer, for example, American fine-art photographer Catherine Opie will teach advanced students to create “The Master Portrait,” and acclaimed sculptor David Kimball Anderson will teach the basics of steel-cutting and welding.

You can meet your art idols. Each summer, artists of all disciplines come to the campus to work and teach—via studio visits, critiques, and lectures. This summer’s roster of visiting artists includes photographer and geographer Trevor Paglen (July 16–20), woodturner David Ellsworth (July 30–August 3), and potters Takashi Nakazato and Fumiko Nagai (August 4–September 15). The ranch’s popular Summer Series: Featured Artists & Conversations brings artists like Ai Weiwei (July 18) and Njideka Akunyili Crosby (July 26) to campus for public lectures, conversations, panels, and Q&As.

There’s great art for sale. If your own artwork isn’t quite ready for display, there are plenty of opportunities to purchase a piece that is. On select Fridays through September 21, you can bid on budget-friendly pieces made by students and faculty at free, public, “lunchtime auctionettes.” For more serious collecting, there’s the Annual Art Auction (August 4), where more than 200 works of art—priced from $100–$20,000—donated by artists, collectors, and galleries will be available in live and silent auctions. Proceeds benefit the Ranch’s art programs.

It’s Aspen—in summer! The campus, which is dotted with a collection of rustic log buildings salvaged from four Roaring Fork Valley ranches, is situated in Snowmass Village, just 10 miles from Aspen, which means that when you aren’t making art, you can hit the trails, shops, and restaurants. And if dormitory life isn’t your thing, you can stay at your favorite hotel and make the short drive to class each day. Commutes don’t get much better—or more scenic.

If you go: Anderson Ranch Arts Center hosts summer workshops through late September. Check out the website for details. 5263 Owl Creek Rd, Snowmass Village; 970-923-3181

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