Recommended: Rich Experiences at Denver Art Museum/s

Big art outside Denver Art Museum (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE


I have written about quite a bit of art here — about art opportunities in NOCO and beyond. But I have been neglectful of the Denver Art Museum.

Or should I say “Museums”? The DAM is luxuriously spread over the expanse of two buildings connected by a fully enclosed walkway/bridge — and both buildings afford rich art experiences.

The Hamilton Building has four levels and that’s where my recent excursion to DAM began.

From ‘Speaking With Light’ by Shan Goshorn (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

On Level 1, our group first visited “Speaking with Light: Contemporary Indigenous Photography,” an exhibit representing 50 Indigenous Nations. The collection spotlights unique cultural elements, attitudes, and history with bold and vibrant visions.

The pieces range from “Tonto’s TV Script Revision” by Larry McNeil — a photo construct that switches the roles of Tonto and the Lone Ranger while confronting the child-abusing founder of the Carlisle Indian Boarding School — to a “traditional Cherokee ‘coffin’-shaped basket,” “Remaining a Child” by Shan Goshorn, that combines x-rays and the names of children buried at the Carlisle school with a mountain image representing their homes.

From ‘Her Brush’ 1600s art on silk by Kiyohara Yukinobu (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Also striking is the work by Sarah Sense, blending poignant imagery with textural patterns, and the otherworldly  “Water Memory” by Cara Romero, recalling the flooding of Indigenous land to form Lake Havasu. “Speaking with Light” continues at DAM through May 21.

We also viewed “The 19th Century in European and American Art” on Level 2, enjoying pieces by Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, and Degas, as well as a cool side gallery that gave info about the framing of great art. My favorite paintings here were the meticulously rendered work by Camille Pissarro, finely textured and subtly colored.

Man trapping- Detail ‘The Game of Civetta’ by Fabris 1700s (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Then we took the bridge over to the Martin Building, which has seven levels.

On Level 1, we viewed “Her Brush: Japanese Women Artists from the Fong-Johnstone Collection,” a multi-faceted exhibit focusing on art, poetry, and the fascinating personal histories of the artists. Some of these pieces date back to the 1600s, and their delicate nature — most are on silk or paper — underscores the fineness of the art.

Detail 1400s art (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

But it wasn’t all about artwork for some of these women. The art was just one part of the “literati circles” they formed, and their activities also included writing poetry.

“Her Brush” has “stations” throughout, with a print and artist story in each, and patrons are encouraged to collect them all. The exhibit continues through May 15.

Western American Art by Emil Bisttram (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Also, in the Martin Building, on Level 6, we visited “European Art before 1800”, which had some of the strangest art in the museum — from the famous “vegetable pictures” by Arcimboldo and a curious painting by Pietro Fabris depicting women trapping men as wild birds to some eye-opening religious works.

On the Martin Building’s Level 7, we visited the “Rooftop Terrace” for a grand view of downtown Denver, then took time to view “Western American Art.”

Framing great art at DAM (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

That was my biggest discovery at DAM. I thought I didn’t like “Western American art,” but the diversity of expression and especially the stunning use of colors made the collection a treat.

Now, that’s a lot for a first visit. And that’s the end result of my recent trip to DAM — there’s much more to see.

It’s worth mentioning that I found everyone I encountered that was involved with the museum to be friendly and informative — they have developed a patron-friendly atmosphere at DAM.

Check out for full info. Do not neglect to visit the Denver Art Museum — or should I say “Museums.”

View “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” on YouTube.


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