June 2016: Women of Abstract Expressionism Opens, Samurai Closes and Other Highlights

Debuting June 12 at the Denver Art Museum (DAM), the groundbreaking exhibition Women of Abstract Expressionism will celebrate the often unknown female artists of this mid-20th-century art movement. More than 50 major paintings will be on view by artists working on the East and West Coasts during the 1940s and ’50s, including Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Jay DeFeo, Sonia Gechtoff, Judith Godwin, Mary Abbott, Perle Fine, Grace Hartigan, Deborah Remington and Ethel Schwabacher.

Elaine de Kooning, Bullfight, 1959. Oil on canvas; 77-5/8 x 130-1/4 x 1-1/8 in. Denver Art Museum: Vance H. Kirkland Acquisition Fund. © Elaine de Kooning Trust

This will be the first presentation of works by these female artists together at one time. Women of Abstract Expressionism will focus on the expressive freedom of direct gesture and process at the core of abstract expressionism, while revealing inward reverie and painterly expression in these works by individuals responding to particular places, memories and life experiences. An illustrated catalog is available in The Shops at the Denver Art Museum. Women of Abstract Expressionism is organized by the DAM and curated by Gwen Chanzit, the museum's curator of modern art. The exhibition runs through Sept. 25 and is included in museum admission. #WomenofAbEx

Women of Abstract Expressionism-related programming

Women of Abstract Expressionism In Context (lecture series)

Celebrate the women who helped forge abstract expressionism—the first fully American modern art movement—and reassess the role of women painters within this movement that has been customarily defined by heroic male painters. The Clyfford Still Museum and the DAM present a series of co-sponsored talks around this groundbreaking exhibition.

  • June 22: Gwen Chanzit and Dean Sobel, Women of Abstract Expressionism in Context
  • July 13: Norman Kleeblatt, Action Abstraction: The Critics, the Artists and the New York School
  • July 27: Erika Doss, Not Just a Guy’s Club: Gender Dynamics and Women Painters in the American 1950s
  • Sept. 21: Susan Landauer, The Advantages of Obscurity: San Francisco Women Abstract Expressionists

All lectures are at 6:30 p.m. in the DAM’s Sharp Auditorium on the lower level of the Hamilton Building. Pre-lecture viewing of Women of Abstract Expressionism at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for each lecture are $12–$15; free for college students. Visit tickets.denverartmuseum.org or call 720-913-0130.

Sonia Gechtoff, The Beginning, 1960. Oil paint on canvas; 69 × 83 in. Vance H. Kirkland Acquisition Fund, 2015.62. ©Sonia Gechtoff

Drop-In Drawing: Women of Abstract Expressionism

June 14, 1–3 p.m.

Using place and memory as inspiration, participants will explore gesture and emotion to create abstract drawings, taking inspiration from the groundbreaking exhibition, Women of Abstract Expressionism. All experience levels welcome. Use one of our communal sketch pads or bring your own supplies. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.

Untitled: Power House

June 24, 6–10 p.m.

Be part of the action with a focus on female artists and architectural interventions. Produced with local creatives, Untitled Final Fridays is the museum's monthly late night program featuring workshops, performances and tours with a twist. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. College students with valid ID receive 2-for-1 admission to Untitled Final Fridays. Untitled Final Fridays are presented by Your 6 Hometown Toyota Stores.


Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection

On view through June 5

Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection tells the iconic story of Japanese warriors through 140 objects from one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of samurai armor and accoutrements in the world. Surrounded by murals and war regalia, visitors will be immersed in the life, culture and pageantry of samurai in the 1100s through the 1800s. Exquisitely decorated suits of armor, helmets, weapons, horse trappings and additional battle gear are on display, demonstrating masterful craftsmanship. Samurai highlights the artistic inspiration for these elaborate suits of armor. A special exhibition ticket, which includes an audio tour, is required for Samurai. The exhibition is curated in collaboration with the DAM and The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection, Dallas. An exhibition catalog, Art of Armor: Samurai Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, is available in The Shops and online. #SamuraiDAM

Nimaitachidō tōsei gusoku armor (detail). Attributed: Myōchin Yoshimichi (helmet bowl); Myōchin Munenori (armor). Muromachi period, ca. 1400 (helmet bowl); mid Edo period, 18th century (armor). Iron, shakudō, lacing, silver, wood, gold, brocade, fur, bronze, brass, leather. © The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas. Photo: Brad Flowers.

Samurai-related programming

Curator’s Circle: The Evolution of Japanese Armor from the Kofun to Edo Periods

June 2, 6:30 p.m.

The image of the samurai on the battlefield is closely tied to the suits of armor they wore. Magnificently imposing and beautifully detailed, these works of art were perfectly designed to protect their wearers and convey their authority. Douglas Wagner of the DAM’s Asian art department will illustrate various types of Japanese armor, explaining the events and forces that drove changes in its appearance, construction and function through more than thirteen centuries. Reception follows the lecture. Free, but reservations are requested on the museum website or by calling 720-913-0130.


Why We Dance: American Indian Art in Motion

May 29, 2016–Aug. 14, 2016

Why We Dance will present the motives behind Native American dance and highlight the DAM’s annual Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebration, occurring this year on Sept. 10. This multisensory exhibition will feature about 86 works, including 78 drawn from the museum’s American Indian art collection. In addition to historic works, the exhibition will showcase contemporary dance regalia from the regional Native American community. Paintings and drawings will illustrate specific Native dances. Also included in the exhibition are large-scale, dance-themed paintings from the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair by Charles Loloma, Jose Duran and Ignacio Moquino. Visitors will be invited into a dancing circle through Mohawk artist Alan Michelson's Round Dance video art installation, allowing them to join in on a form of dance used as social protest. Part of Dance!—a campus-wide celebration of creative expression through movement—the exhibition is included in museum admission, which is free for youth 18 and younger. #danceatDAM

Dan Namingha (Tewa/Hopi, born 1950), Hopi Eagle Dancer, 1995. Acrylic paint on canvas. 47 ¾ x 47 ¾ in. Denver Art Museum: Gift of Virginia Vogel Mattern, 2003.1296. © Dan Namingha.

Why We Dance-related programming

Gallery Tour of Why We Dance

June 1, 6 & 7 p.m.

Join curators Nancy Blomberg and John Lukavic for a closer look at the historic works, contemporary dance regalia and paintings and drawings illustrating specific Native dances featured in this multisensory exhibition. The tour will be offered twice, at 6 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for Friends of Native Arts: The Douglas Society members, $10 for DAM members, $12 for others and free for students with valid ID.

Conversation with Curator: Why We Dance

July 3, 4 p.m.

Curator Nancy Blomberg leads a tour of this multisensory exhibition, which presents the motives behind Native American dance and highlights the museum’s annual Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebration. Conversations with Curators feature lively discussion with different curators on the first Friday of the month. Meet in the elevator lobby on level 1 of the Hamilton Building. Included with general admission; no reservations are needed.

On Desert Time: Landscape Photographs by O’Sullivan & Bell, 1871–1874

May 29, 2016–Jan. 8, 2017

On Desert Time presents photographs by Timothy H. O’Sullivan and William H. Bell made over four summers, 1871–1874. In those years, these photographers worked on the Wheeler Survey—a series of expeditions in the American Southwest led by Lieutenant George Wheeler that were officially titled the Geographic Explorations and Surveys West of the 100th Meridian. The Wheeler Survey was charged with the task of mappinglands for the development of military posts, transportation corridors, and mineral resources in territories ceded to the United States at the end of the Mexican-American War.

Timothy H. O'Sullivan, Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, N.M. In a Niche 50 Feet above Present Cañon Bed., 1873. Albumen silver print. Denver Art Museum Collection: The Daniel Wolf Landscape Photography Collection, 1991.483.48

Within these constraints, O’Sullivan and Bell created striking views of the desert region that reflect both the bones of the landscape and the photographers’ own experiences in the area. The two photographers documented places, cultures and geologic phenomena across lands that now lie within Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, including areas such as the Grand Canyon and Canyon de Chelly. O’Sullivan’s and Bell’s pictures, printed in Washington, D.C., over the following winters and published in bound portfolios, fueled people’s curiosity about a region that was largely unknown to European Americans farther east. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free.


Native Arts Artist-in-Residence: Powwow Regalia Studio

June 9–Sept. 18

This summer, the Native Arts Artist-in-Residence program will focus on the artistry and process of creating Powwow Regalia, coinciding with Why We Dance: American Indian Art in Motion and the DAM’s 2016 Friendship Powwow on Sept. 10th.

Six artists from the Denver community will be in residence for two weeks each, focusing on regalia for different Powwow dances. Each artist will have open studio hours from 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Thursdays–Sundays during their two-week residency.

Artist Residency Schedule

  • June 9–19: Mary Young Bear, Men’s Woodland Style Dance
  • July 7–17: Alistair Bane, Men’s Straight Dance
  • July 21–31: Verla Howell, Men’s Fancy Feather Dance
  • Aug. 4–14: Kiva Trujillo, Women’s Fancy Dance
  • Aug. 18–28: Iris Rouillard, Traditional Lakota Design Beadwork
  • Sept. 1–4 and 15–18: Andy Cozad, Gourd Dance

Movement Studio

Opens June 4

Explore how artists express and are inspired by movement through different mediums and techniques. The studio will include three hands-on activity areas to explore and experiment with motion in unique ways and will feature demonstrations by local creatives each weekend during a summer celebrating movement and Dance!

June Demo Artist Schedule

  • June 45: David Ocelotl Garcia Energy in Motion (interactive drawing and painting)
  • June 11–12: Corrina Espinosa Objects in Motion
  • June 18–19 and 2526: Mark Brasuell Automatic Painting & Conceptual Abstraction

The Movement Studio is generously supported by The R&J Newman Family Foundation.


Mindful Looking

June 21, 1 p.m. (offered on the third Tuesday of every month)

Join teaching specialist Molly Medakovich for an in-depth exploration of a screen depicting a garden party in the DAM’s Spanish Colonial collection. Mindful Looking invites visitors to slow down and spend time with a work of art, discovering overlooked details, exploring ideas and making connections. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.

Garden Party on the Terrace of a Country Home, Mexico, circa 1725. Oil, canvas, gold. Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2009.759

Drop-In Writing: Say What You Will – Hanging Out In Audacious

June 28, 1–3 p.m. (offered on the fourth Tuesday of every month)

Poet W.H. Auden once wrote that poetry “makes nothing happen.” Even if that is true, it doesn’t mean we shouldn't say the things we need to say—about culture, about politics, about the state of our world. This month, we’ll take an active role in speaking our minds, using Audacious: Contemporary Artists Speak Out as a creative launch pad. All experience levels welcome, bring your own supplies or use one of our notebooks. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.


Free First Saturday / CelebrARTE at Free First Saturdays

June 4, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

On the first Saturday of every month, enjoy the museum’s art collections and non-ticketed exhibitions without spending a dime! Be sure to check out some of the DAM’s many family-friendly activities. Free museum admission tickets are available on-site starting at 10 a.m. (Additional ticket required for Samurai.) Free First Saturday is made possible by Your 6 Hometown Toyota Stores and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD).

At CelebrARTE on Free First Saturdays, enjoy bilingual fun for everyone, with a 2 p.m. DAM Highlights tour in Spanish, Create-n-Takes and a storytelling program. Cuentistas tell the tales of artworks during Cuentos del Arte with stories para todos—for everyone—at 1 and 3 p.m.

Summer Schedule for Family Fun

Starting June 4, Create-n-Takes will be available in the galleries for summer fun Tuesday–Friday from 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m., and on Free First Saturdays June–August. Starting June 7, the Family Activity Cart will be out every day the museum is open. Check out a Family Backpack and explore the galleries! Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.

Create Playdate: Shadow

June 8, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

Drop in with your little ones, aged 3 to 5, to create art, read stories and play art games. In June, we’ll play with shadow and light. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.

Foxy and Shmoxy: Art Detectives

June 12, 10 a.m.–noon (offered on the second Sunday of every month)

Foxy and Shmoxy—two smart, witty and hilarious foxes—are ready to solve art mysteries in the galleries. Bring the whole family to help Foxy and Shmoxy sniff out clues and unseen treasures in the museum. See the foxes in action at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Visit the Family Activity Cart, pick up a letter from the Fox Box, and then follow the riddles into the galleries to find the foxes. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.

Note: This is an overview of June happenings and does not include all exhibitions, events and programs available at the DAM this month. Please visit the museum website for complete information.

Media Resources

Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum is an educational, nonprofit resource that sparks creative thinking and expression through transformative experiences with art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. Denver metro citizens support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a unique funding source serving hundreds of metro Denver arts, culture and scientific organizations. For museum information, call 720-865-5000 or visit denverartmuseum.org.

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