June 2019: The Light Show Opens, #SummerofPlay2019 Features Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America, Untitled Final Friday: Light Wait with Creative Tobias Fike and Other Highlights

Opening fully on June 2, The Light Show at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) explores physical and symbolic representations of light in art through a thought-provoking narrative. The exhibition features about 250 objects drawn from the DAM’s nine curatorial departments.

The Light Show focuses on the quest by humanity and artists to understand physical light in the natural world as well as metaphorical, spiritual and divine representations of light.

Lucas Samaras, Corridor #2, 1970. Mirrors on wood frame; 7 x 3.063 x 50.281 ft. Denver Art Museum: Gift of the artist in honor of Dianne Perry Vanderlip. ©Lucas Samaras, 1989.238. Photograph by Jeff Wells. ©Denver Art Museum

The Light Show will open in two stages. The first stage—focused on physical light—opened May 19. The full exhibition will be on view starting June 2 when the second stage, presenting symbolic light, debuts. The exhibition will prompt visitors to reflect on a variety of light-related themes through a broad range of materials and artworks, including ancient sculptures, paintings, photography, textiles and contemporary installations.

Rebecca Hart, Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Jorge Rivas Pérez, Frederick and Jan Mayer Curator of Spanish Colonial Art, co-curated this cross-departmental exhibition.

Included in general museum admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger. #LightatDAM

Ettore Sottsass, Ashoka Lamp, 1981. Painted metal; 34 × 30 × 3-1/4 in. Manufactured by Memphis Srl, Milan, Italy. Denver Art Museum: Funds from Frederick and Jan Mayer.

The Light Show-related programming

First Light Family Space

Opens June 8

Step into the shining world of the new First Light Family Space and try hands-on activities inspired by The Light Show. Capture nature’s shadows with moveable silhouettes, experiment with transparency and color on overhead projectors, mix patterns to cast bold shadows and design a wearable mirror. Located on level 3. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

Tactile Tables: The Light Show

June 14 & 15, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.

Get hands on with art as we feature some unique objects from The Light Show. Try on a pair of snow goggles or feel a raised-line drawing of a sand mandala. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

Image courtesy of the artist.

Untitled Final Friday: Light Wait

June 28, 6–10 p.m.

June’s Untitled Final Friday highlights the creative practice of Tobias Fike, with the theme “Light Wait,” inspired by The Light Show. Watch for collaborative shadow sculptures, LED DIY light box-making workshop, kaleidoscope making, sound performance, comedic art tour and an installation created by visual and performance artist/arts educator Fike.

Each month at Untitled Final Friday, you can explore new perspectives inspired by artwork on view with performances, tours, artmaking activities, a cash bar and yummy eats available from a different food truck each month.

Free for DAM members and youth 18 and younger; students with valid ID receive two-for-one tickets during Untitled. Untitled Final Fridays are presented by Your 6 Hometown Toyota Stores. #untitledDAM


The DAM celebrates a Summer of Play with an exhibition that presents the concept of play in postwar American design as a catalyst for creativity and innovation. Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America explores how employing playfulness allowed designers to bring fresh ideas to the American home, children’s toys and play spaces, and corporate identities.

During the 1950s and ’60s, as diverse materials and manufacturing techniques opened up possibilities for new approaches to design and larger-scale production, an increase in disposable income and leisure time of a growing middle class offered more options for designers to help Americans discover a new way of living at home through thoughtfully designed objects.

An emerging focus on child development prompted an interest in children’s furniture and placed a fresh emphasis on the importance of smart toy design, while pervasive Cold War anxiety created a desire to bring positivity and escapism into everyday spaces.

Serious Play includes over 200 works ranging from works on paper, models, textiles, furniture and ceramics to films, toys, playground equipment and product design. Organized around three themes—the American home, child’s play and corporate approaches to design—the exhibition encourages visitors to consider how design connects to their daily lives.

Daily 45-minute public tours of the exhibition are available at 1 p.m. On view through Aug. 25, Serious Play is included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger. #SummerofPlay2019

Charles and Ray Eames, House of Cards, publicity photo, 1952. ©Eames Office LLC (eamesoffice.com)

Serious Play-related programming

Midcentury Design: A Closer Look (a three-part course)

Session 1: Moderns before Midcentury — June 15, 2:30-4 p.m.

University of Colorado Denver art historian Maria Elena Buszek will give a brief introduction to the "Moderns" at the turn of the century whose work preceded and inspired Charles and Ray Eames. From Arts and Crafts to Art Nouveau to the Bauhaus, Dr. Buszek will survey key figures and concepts in design history that led to the work on display in Serious Play.

Additional course sessions include Playful Seriousness (July 13) and Fun, Taste & IKEA (Aug. 10). Tickets are available for individual sessions ($22 DAM members/$25 nonmembers) or all three ($60 DAM members/$70 nonmembers). General admission tickets, which include entrance to the exhibition, are sold separately.

Low-Sensory Evening: Serious Play

June 21, 5–7 p.m.

For neuro-diverse adults and children who prefer a quiet, sensory-inclusive environment we offer regular Low-Sensory Events that enable you to visit the museum at your own pace. On June 21, explore Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America without the crowd, try your hand at artmaking in our Paint Studio and take a break in our sensory break room. Visual schedule and sensory tools provided on-site.

Included with general admission, ticketing assistance available by request. Reserve your spot today. Contact access@denverartmuseum.org or 720-913-0074 with any questions.

Photo by Jena Pruett

Talk at 12 Tours

On Wednesday and Friday at noon, enjoy a 30-minute, in-depth look at an aspect of the museum’s collections or something special happening in the galleries. On June 19 and 21, the topic will be Eames Furniture FUNdamentals; on June 26 and 28, explore Purposeful Play the Eames Way. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

Drop-In Writing

June 25, 1–3 p.m.

Explore your creativity through the written word in our informal writing sessions with Michael Henry, executive director of the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. This month, take inspiration from Serious Play. Bring your own writing projects or get started on something new. Open to all levels, from published authors to the occasional journaler! Materials provided.


Jordan Casteel, Charles, 2016. Oil on canvas; 78 x 60 in. Collection of Jordan Casteel. Image courtesy of Sargent's Daughters, New York. ©Jordan Casteel

Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze

Through Aug. 18

The exhibition showcases 29 paintings by Denver-born artist Jordan Casteel, now based in Harlem, New York. Casteel’s first major museum exhibition, this exhibition provides audiences with a first look at new work by one of the most acclaimed emerging artists working today. Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze brings together a body of work made from 2013 to 2018, with new paintings that reveal the artist’s evolving practice and a shift in subject matter ranging from cityscapes and subway scenes to women and local business owners.

Casteel’s approach to selecting subjects involves walking around her neighborhood and taking photographs. By transforming these photographs into larger-than-life portraits with subtle shifts in light, bold colors and gestural brushwork, Casteel reveals individuals and atmospheres that often go unnoticed.

A 45-minute public tour of the exhibition is offered daily at 2 p.m. Included with general admission, which is free for DAM members and youth 18 and younger. #JordanCasteelatDAM

Jonathan Saiz, Study for Utopia, 2018. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist and K Contemporary Gallery, Photo by Wes Magyar. ©Jonathan Saiz

Eyes On: Jonathan Saiz

Through Nov. 17

Jonathan Saiz’s installation, #WhatisUtopia, features a column covered with 10,000 tiny drawings, paintings and sculptures and five additional framed works. Utopia is defined as “an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its citizens.” The artist employs social media to spark conversation and document responses about our ability to re-envision and embody a modern utopia.

After the exhibition closes, Saiz will give away the 10,000 artworks on the column. Follow the story on Instagram via @utopia_is_free with #WhatisUtopia and #JonathanSaizatDAM.

Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

Composite view of Erika Harrsch’s multi-media installation, Under the Same Sky… We Dream, 2017-2019.

Eyes On: Erika Harrsch

Through Nov. 17

Erika Harrsch, a New York-based artist who was born and raised in Mexico City, first exhibited her project Under the Same Sky… We Dream in El Paso in 2017 just as regulations became more stringent for those seeking asylum in the United States.

This multimedia installation comprises imagery, music, text and furnishings that reference the circumstances faced by immigrants and refugees subject to the DREAM Act. Vocalist Magos Herrara collaborated with Harrsch to produce the soundtrack for the installation.

Included with general admission, which is free for DAM members and youth 18 and younger. #ErikaHarrschatDAM

Hans Holbein the Younger and studio, Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VI), about 1538. Oil on panel; 22-¾ x 17 in. Promised gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, inv. TL-17310.

Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection

Through Jan. 5, 2020

This exhibition showcases about 60 paintings gifted to the museum by the Berger Collection Educational Trust (BCET) in 2018—the largest gift of European old masters to the DAM since the museum received the Kress Collection in the 1950s.

Treasures of British Art presents 500 years of British cultural history through the stories of its people, captured by the enduring brilliance of artists of the time. The exhibition features devotional images, portraits, landscapes and sporting scenes by the greatest artists of the British School—including Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence and John Constable—as well as non-British artists who spent significant time in Britain, such as Flemish artist Anthony van Dyck and American artists Benjamin West and John Singer Sargent.

A 45-minute public tour is available daily at 1:30 p.m. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger. #TreasuresatDAM

Treasures of British Art-related programming

Insight: Spotlight on Conservation - Treating the Berger Collection "Treasures"

June 14, 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

Join a conversation between DAM paintings conservator Pam Skiles and Berger Collection curator Kate Stuart about the treatments that were conducted on several paintings in the exhibition Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection. Pam and Kate will share how they arrived at their decisions—to treat or not to treat—and show before-and-after photographs of the work that was done. $10 members, $15 nonmembers.

Blue Star Museum Program 2019

May 18–Sept. 2, 2019

The DAM is participating in the summer 2019 Blue Star Museum program, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across America. The DAM will offer free general admission to active duty military personnel and their families, including the National Guard and Reserve, from May 18 to Sept. 2, 2019.

For additional details and to find other participating museums, visit the Blue Star Museums map.


Free First Saturday

June 1, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Enjoy the DAM’s art collections and family-friendly activities for free. There’s bilingual fun with the storytelling program Cuentos del Arte at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Stop by the Paint Studio for artist demonstrations from noon to 3 p.m. Free general admission tickets will be available on-site starting at 10 a.m.

Free First Saturday is made possible by Your 6 Hometown Toyota Stores and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). #ThanksSCFD #GraciasSCFD

Create Playdate

June 12, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

Drop in with your little ones, ages 3 to 5, and meet up with other tots and their grownups for storytime, artmaking and more! Included with general admission, which is free for members and kids 18 and younger. No reservations required.

Paint Studio

Opening June 1, 2019

This summer, the studio on the first floor of the Hamilton Building switches from prints to paint. Explore how painters use color and light to capture the world around them, experiment with watercolors, paint a portrait or create your own abstract masterpiece. The Paint Studio is open seven days a week. Demonstrations by local artists from noon to 3 p.m. each weekend. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

June Artist Demonstrations

  • June 1-2: Cami Galofre, Abstract Landscapes & Color Fields
  • June 8-9: Brady Smith, Acrylic Still Life
  • June 15-16 & 22-23: Moe Gram, Abstract Compositions & Collage as Painting
  • June 29-30 & July 6-7: Leticia Tanguma, Portraits in Oil and Acrylic


Drop-In Drawing

June 11, 1–3 p.m.

Join artist Anna Kaye at this fun and informal monthly creative art session. In June we’ll head outside to Martin Plaza to enjoy the summer weather and take inspiration from our surroundings. Bring a drawing or sketching project of your own or get started on something new. All ranges of drawing experience welcome!

Drawing materials provided, but you are welcome to bring your own supplies. Please note that only sketchpads 14 x 17 inches or smaller, graphite pencils and kneaded erasers are permitted in the galleries.

Meet on level 1. Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger. No reservations required.

Bernardo Zenale, Madonna and Child with Saints, about 1510. Tempera and oil paint on panel. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961.173 Bernardo Zenale, Madonna and Child with Saints, about 1510. Tempera and oil paint on panel. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961.173

Mindful Looking: Madonna and Child with Saints

June 18, 1 p.m.

Every month, Mindful Looking invites you to slow down and spend time with a single work of art. This month, step into the quiet, contemplative space of Bernardo Zenale’s Madonna and Child with Saints with teaching specialist Molly Medakovich.

Explore the rich visual details of the work and meander through a scene full of symbols and stories. Discover overlooked details, explore ideas and make connections as we linger, look and discuss.

Included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

Unplugged: Meditation

June 21, 4 p.m.

Join our partners from Kadampa Meditation Center in an hour-long guided meditation in the galleries. Whether you are a first-timer to meditation or enjoy a regular practice, all are welcome to join in on this "happiness hour" of quiet calm and contemplation. Chairs, yoga mats and meditation cushions provided.

The Unplugged experience changes each month. Included in general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and younger.

This month, extend your experience of quiet and calm with the Low Sensory Evening that follows. Reservations recommended for that event: contact access@denverartmuseum.org or 720-913-0074 with any questions.

This overview of June happenings does not include all exhibitions, events and programs available this month. See the museum website for complete information.

Download PDF of press release.