The city is considering issuing citations for trespassing and destruction of property to a Los Angeles-based artist who affixed his work to the side of some of Aspen’s most historically significant buildings.
Kai Aspire, identified in a letter from the city attorney’s office as Kai Guetta, was in town last week in conjunction with the Art Aspen show at the Aspen Ice Garden. He used an adhesive to place eight cement-relief pieces on the exteriors of seven buildings, including the Hotel Jerome, Elks and Prada. The pieces, small- to medium-sized wall hangings, depict a featureless figure in confrontation with forces holding back a yearning for love, wisdom and freedom.
“When I traveled to Aspen, I felt like spreading a little love through handmade cement sculptures,” Guetta wrote in an email, noting that he is a street artist who has been on display in cities and museums in the United States and Europe.
“Luckily I don’t spread love with a spray paint can and a quick tag!” he wrote. “I thought that these cement reliefs, with their positive messages and ornate framing, would be accepted and give viewers a little special treat in their day.”
The gestures are indeed a special treat for the city of Aspen’s historic preservation officer Amy Simon, but likely not in the way Guetta intended. Acknowledging that Guetta appears to be a “accomplished artist” with “meaningful” work, Simon said the method employed in downtown Aspen could damage historic buildings and is “not helpful.”
Removing the adhesive will likely erode the surface of the brick, Simon said, causing it to absorb more water, which is “not a good thing.”
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