Pow Wow!

In the 1920s, the Denver Art Museum became one of the first art institutions in the world to collect American Indian material not be-cause of some historic or scientific interest, but because of its undeniable aesthetic qualities. Nearly ninety years later, the DAM has one of the largest and most important collections of Native American art anywhere.

But for months now, the American Indian Art Galleries in the Ponti building devoted to displaying the museum’s collection have been closed while Native Arts curator Nancy Blomberg rethought and reinstalled it. “The new galleries underwent not only a physical change, but also an intellectual one,” explains Blomberg. “The new presentation focuses on specific artists. People go to the Modern and Contemporary art floors or the European art floors and expect to see artists; however, when they come to the American Indian art galleries, they don’t. I want to challenge that. I want visitors to look at a group of, for example, Navajo weavings and see the distinct style and hand of the artist involved. I want people to see 2,000 years of continuous artistic creation.”

See it all — from prehistoric to postmodern — when the galleries reopen at noon today at the DAM, 100 West 14th Avenue Park-way. For more information, call 720-865-5000 or go to www.denverartmuseum.org.
Tuesdays-Sundays, 2011

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia