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Two Vail resorts are transforming their gondolas with custom-made art from two separate artists, each with a unique tie-in.
At Stowe, Jim Harris’s artwork will be taking over a handicap-accessible gondola, on the SkyRide line, and at Park City Lamont Joseph White’s diversity-inspired piece will wrap a cabin on the QuickSilver lift. Both artists were hand-selected by the Vail team for their artistic abilities and unique backgrounds that inspire such creativity.
For Harris, art has always been part of his life and a way to express himself. However, he noticed a “sharp distinction” in his creative process after a kiteskiing accident left him with a life-altering spine injury in 2014, causing paralysis. Now, as a walking paraplegic who finds himself frequently on skis, Harris has a strong commitment to helping others with disabilities enjoy time on snow.
“I feel passion involved with the adaptive sports scene at Stowe,” Harris explains. “Stowe has a strong adaptive ski and sports program, and even without having a previous history of visiting it’s really easy to feel some sort of kinship with a place that cares and has similar goals for accessibility.”
The handicap-accessible cabin on Stowe’s SkyRide gondola is wrapped with Harris’s signature landscape-based, topographic map-inspired artwork. The cabin is ADA-accessible and physically bigger to accommodate wheelchairs and necessary apparatus for skiing.
The inspiration for Harris’s piece “Creating Your Line” came after his first visit to Stowe last March. “My work is landscape-based, and I really like looking out at land and terrain. Pre-spine injury I was really good at reading maps and there’s almost this skill with looking at topographic maps… [as an artist], I try to be faithful to what the terrain actually looks like and create optical illusions on paper so its a little bit less work than having to read a map.”
About 2,300 miles West of Harris’s topographic map splendor in Stowe, Lamont Joseph White is bringing his artistic lens of diversity to the slopes at Park City. As a fine artist, painter, and digital designer White has been working in the arts for 30 years. His artwork “brings something different” and he hopes when people see his work it will not only inspire a conversation but also bring joy.
In “Uplifted” White tries to encapsulate the idea of “feeling different in the mountains” through using people he knows to serve as models and amalgamations for his artwork. Raised in New York City, White didn’t have the traditional mountain upbringing like many of his now peers, and part of his artwork journey tells his story of feeling somewhat out of place in a contrasting environment.
“I want to bring something different to the mountain, something different than our traditional norms to mountain or snow sport spaces, it’s a place I’ve recreated in for close to 30 years and it is close to how I’ve felt to some degree, just different in the mountains than most of the people I saw there,” White said. “And I’m hoping that because I did explore that subject that’s why they [Vail] chose me for the project, to show something different than the norm.”
In total it took White about six months from project start to completion, adding that as a Park City resident, he wanted to see the wrapping in person, adding he is looking forward to seeing it with a snowy background.
Both Gondolas are in service at their respective resorts which plan to open for skiing quite soon. Park City has a scheduled opening date of Nov.17 and Stowe the following day on Nov.18. Both artists are also featured in the online gallery in a series of mini films available here.
The Gondola Galery by Epic plans to unveil one more cabin in Spring 2024 at Whistler Blackcomb featuring artwork and collaboration from the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center.