May 2016: Star Wars™ Day on May the 4th, Why We Dance and Unseated Open, Photography Exhibitions Close, Samurai and Other Highlights

Opening May 29, Why We Dance: American Indian Art in Motion will present the motives behind Native American dance and highlight the Denver Art Museum's (DAM) annual Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebration on Sept. 10. This multisensory exhibition will feature about 86 works, including 78 drawn from the DAM'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.

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.

Also included in the exhibition are large-scale, dance-themed portraits 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

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 samurai 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

Samurai-related programming

Curator's Circle: Japanese Sword Fittings and the Samurai Tradition

May 17, 6:30 p.m.

Central to the identity of the Japanese samurai was the distinctive sword and its elaborate mounts. Robert Mintz, Chief Curator, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Quincy Scott Department of Asian Art at the Walters Art Museum, will discuss the history of the Japanese sword and its associated fittings. The product of advanced technology and masterful artistry practiced by elite metalsmiths, the sword and its trappings served as symbols of power and of identity. Expressed in the forms of allegorical stories, talismanic images and pictorial word plays, these fascinating images serve as a window into the mindset and culture that characterized the samurai of the 17th through the 19th centuries. Reception follows the lecture. Free, but reservations are requested by May 7 on the museum website or by calling 720-913-0130.

Yamazaki Choun, Young Man of the Genroku Era, ca. 1900. Photo courtesy of the Walters Art Museum.

Untitled: Rising Sun

May 27, 6–10 p.m.

Celebrate Japanese culture past and present in a creative extravaganza produced by Andrew Novick for this month's Untitled. 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. (A separate ticket is required for admission to Samurai.) Untitled Final Fridays are presented by Your 6 Hometown Toyota Stores.


Member tours of Samurai are offered Tuesday through Friday at 1 p.m. Additional ticket required.


Kenneth Josephson, Polapans, 1973. Denver Art Museum: Gift of the artist, 2015.265. © Kenneth Josephson.

Kenneth Josephson: Encounters with the Universe

Through May 8

An early and influential conceptual photographer, Kenneth Josephson makes photographs of found and constructed visual puzzles that demonstrate his alert and often humorous way of encountering the world at large. His interest in the ways the camera manipulates what we see—abstracting space, compressing three dimensions into two, divorcing subjects from their context and arresting time and motion—draws attention to the physical act of making a photograph and what that implies. Throughout his body of work, Josephson's incisive commentary on the curiosities of photography as a descriptive medium and our belief in the image places his work at the vanguard of conceptual photography. This exhibition features 62 photographs dating from 1959 to 2003, including his early experimental photographs, ground-breaking conceptual work and more recent landscapes. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free.

Standing Still: Photographs by Danny Singer

Through May 22

This exhibition offers 11 views of small towns on the North American prairie. Singer photographed the kinds of places most travelers overlook in their rush to get from one city to the next. The result is a series of what Singer calls "paper movies" that evoke the feeling of driving slowly down Main Street, taking things in a little at a time. The pictured towns sprang up as the railroads pressed westward across the continent in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A sudden drop in grain prices at the end of World War I, followed by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, set off an exodus toward larger towns and cities. Populations have never bounced back, yet, as Singer shows, small towns and hamlets are integral to the economy and social fabric of the plains. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free.


Joris Laarman (Dutch, born 1979), Microstructures Adaptation Chair (Long Cell) Prototype, 2014. 3-D printed polyamide and copper. Funds from Design Council of the Denver Art Museum, 2015.263. © Joris Laarman.

Unseated: Contemporary Chairs Reimagined

May 1, 2016–May 7, 2017

Innovative and unexpected―these works reveal the vast range of materials and processes utilized by contemporary designers as they challenge our notions of what design can be through the enduring form of the chair. The design methods employed demonstrate a juxtaposition of handcraftsmanship and digital production, from unconventional and spontaneous processes (melting, wrapping and molding) to sculpting with math and technology. Some utilize longstanding production methods, while others push the limits of existing technologies or build their own specialized tools. These works reflect the vitality and diversity of contemporary design practices around the globe and locally. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free.


May 8, 2016–March 19, 2017

Tableau is a new installation by Hadley Hooper, a painter, illustrator and Denver native. Inspired by old theater stage sets, Hooper has created larger-than-life immersive illustrations with opportunities for visitors to become a part of the set and take pictures of themselves using the hashtag #TableauDAM on social media. The imagery and stories are familiar at first glance but make you take a double look at what is in front of you. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free.


Native Arts Artist-in-Residence Jan Jacobs

Through May 15

Native Arts Artist-in-Residence Jan Jacobs, acclaimed ribbonwork artist of the Osage tribe, will share the art of Osage ribbonwork and talk about its history and why it is such an important part of the Osage InLonSchka Dances each June.

Creative-in-Residence Mar Williams

Through May 22

Mar Williams' interactive installation examines the connection between technology, art and individual identity. Each time we access the web we leave traces of our interests, preferences and activities behind that comprise our "online" or technologically augmented identity. Mar's residency uses Bluetooth technology to track visitors' interaction with the art and each other in the exhibition Audacious: Contemporary Artists Speak Out. The information tracked will be used to create and visualize a unique identity for each participating visitor. Visit level 3 of the Hamilton Building during Mar's residency to experience this interactive installation.

Plaza Ribbon Installation

May 23–May 27

To inspire visitors to move, the DAM collaborated with local design studio Demiurge to create an immersive ribbon environment for this summer's plaza installation. Wynn Earl Buzzell Jr., lead designer at Demiurge, used stop-motion imagery of dancers moving as the conceptual basis for the architecture of this piece. Local fabric artists Tamara Leberer and Katie Fowler worked with Buzzell to choose the colorways and placement of the ribbons. Leberer and Fowler will be onsite starting May 23 to weave ribbon into the structure. The plaza program is generously funded by the PB and K Family Foundation.


Herndon Davis: Painting Colorado History, 1901–1962

May 3, 5:30 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.)

Herndon Davis, generally known only as "that drunk who painted the face on the barroom floor" in the Teller House in Central City, was an artist and journalist who dedicated his life to depicting Colorado landmarks and personalities in oil, pen and pencil. Tom "Dr. Colorado" Noel teaches history at the University of Colorado at Denver where he is the director of Public History and Preservation and co-director of the Center for Colorado and the West. Craig Leavitt is social media manager and research assistant at the Center for Colorado and the West. Together they will present an entertaining and enlightening look at the story of Herndon Davis. A book signing will follow the program. Herndon Davis: Painting Colorado History, 1901–1962, is on sale in The Shop in the Hamilton Building. Note: The Shop will close at 5 p.m. on May 3. Free; first-come seating. Sponsored by Friends of Painting and Sculpture, a DAM support group.

Conversation with Curator: Grand Gestures

May 6, 4 p.m.

Jesse Ortega and Julie Wilson Frick will discuss the importance of dance in the pre-Columbian world using objects from the exhibition, Grand Gestures: Dance, Drama, Masquerade. Meet in the elevator lobby on level 4 of the North Building. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.

Ramiro Gomez & Lawrence Weschler in Conversation & Book Signing

May 7, 3:30 p.m. (doors open at 3 p.m.)

Author Lawrence Weschler joins Los Angeles-based artist Ramiro Gomez for a conversation about his work, which is largely informed by his background as a first-generation Mexican-American and former nanny. Born in California's Inland Empire to immigrant parents, Gomez saw firsthand the struggles of new Americans, an experience that has shaped his work. Taking David Hockney's iconic 1960s Southern California scenes as both starting point and object of critique, Gomez's paintings and sculptural cutouts make visible the people whose largely-overlooked labor supports such upper-class idylls—the gardeners, maids, maintenance workers and pool boys. Free; first-come seating. Sponsored by the Modern & Contemporary Art Department and Museo de las Americas.

D.Y. Begay: Process, Inspiration and Colors

May 11, 6 p.m.

D.Y. Begay is a fourth-generation weaver born and raised on a sheep farm on the Navajo Nation spanning the ''four corners'' where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet. She learned how to spin, dye and weave by observing her mother, whose woven rugs contributed to the family income. She experiments with traditional and exotic plant dyes to attain subtle and brilliant shades of color. Begay will discuss the sources of her inspiration and share her processes and the origins of the various colors she uses. Tickets are $5-$12; free for students with valid ID. Sponsored by Friends of Native Arts: The Douglas Society, a DAM support group.

Jefferson Rubin. Photo by David Schler.

Frammenti Della Vita: Jefferson Rubin (documentary film)

May 13, 5:30 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.)

Filmed in Italy and Colorado, this documentary by CPT12PBS reveals the fascinating life story of neo-classical sculptor Jefferson D. Rubin. Rubin's humanistic and classical art embraced the poetry of sculpture that descends from ancient and Renaissance antecedents. A Colorado native, he studied and worked in the United States and Italy, and was founder, director and principal teacher of Denver's La Scuola Classical Sculpture School. Rubin exhibited in galleries and museums across the country and abroad, and his rare pieces are prized in many private collections. He died in a mountain accident in August 1995 at the age of 36. Included in general admission; first-come seating. Sponsored by Friends of Painting and Sculpture, a DAM support group.

Logan Lecture: Carroll Dunham

May 17, 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

Carroll Dunham's work explores psychological and formal issues through the depictions of animated, often disconnected, abstract figures and landscapes. Inspired by pop art, surrealism, neo-expressionism, and abstract expressionism, Dunham's paintings and works on paper reference artists such as Paul Gauguin, Arshile Gorky, Joan Mirό, Jean Dubuffet and William Copley. The resulting combination of formal elements and artistic inspirations is a humorous, sometimes raunchy, survey of an alternative world. Lecture will be held in Ponti Hall in the North Building. Tickets are $8–$18. Enjoy an après-lecture reception at The ART, a hotel, with complimentary snacks, a cash bar and a chance to converse with the artist. Presented by the DAM Contemporaries. This series is sponsored by Vicki and Kent Logan in affiliation with DAM Contemporaries.

Mindful Looking

May 17, 1 p.m.

Slow down and spend time with a single work of art, discovering overlooked details, exploring ideas and making connections at Mindful Looking. In May, join Interpretive Specialist Ann Lambson for an in-depth exploration of the unexpected materials and techniques used by contemporary furniture designers in Unseated: Contemporary Chairs Reimagined. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.

Drop-in Drawing: Frottage

May 10, 1–3 p.m. (offered on the second Tuesday of each month)

Using Creative Crossroads: The Art of Tapestry as inspiration, explore the art of frottage, a French term meaning "to rub." All experience levels welcome. Use one of our communal sketch pads or bring your own supplies (only sketchpads or notebooks 14 x 17 inches or smaller, graphite pencils and kneaded erasers are permitted in the galleries). Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.

Drop-In Writing: The Eyes Have It

May 24, 1–3 p.m. (offered on the fourth Tuesday of every month)

Pick up a pencil and spark your creative interests in these informal writing sessions. We'll look into the eyes of various portraits from the Spanish Colonial art collection and use them as inspiration to develop characters and emotions. Meet on level 1 of the Hamilton Building. 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.


May the 4th Be With You Public Celebration

May 4, 10 a.m.

Join other Star Wars™ enthusiasts for the DAM's Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume exhibition tickets-on-sale kickoff event, where it will be proclaimed Star Wars™ Day in Colorado. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Come in costume, listen to iconic music and meet and take photos with Star Wars™ characters. The first 200 people to show up on-site in costume will receive an exhibition-themed gift, with a chance to win out-of-this-world prizes. Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume will open Nov. 13, 2016. A special exhibition ticket will be required.

Free First Saturday / CelebrARTE at Free First Saturdays

May 7, 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.

Foxy and Shmoxy: Art Detectives

May 8, 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.

Create Playdate: Clash

May 11, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

Drop in with your little ones, aged 3 to 5, to create art, read stories, play art games and see an opera performance by Central City Opera's Ensemble Artists based on May's theme of "Clash." Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. No reservations required.

Art Emergency: Code Red...

May 21, 10:30 a.m.

Two museum staff members who cannot agree which art should go where need your help. They'll let you in on surprising stories and details behind key works of art at the DAM, and then ask your opinion on what should fill the museum's walls. After the show, go find the featured pieces of art in the galleries! Enjoy this family-friendly performance by Real Live Theater at the DAM. Included in museum admission; youth 18 and younger free. Additional member-only performance at 9:30 a.m.

Note: This is an overview of May 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

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