Art Review

Ronald Otsuka, Who Built the DAM's Asian Art Department, Retires After 41 Years

The Denver Art Museum's Gio Ponti tower -- now ignobly dubbed the North Building -- was completed in 1971. It was less than two years later that a young Asian-art scholar, Ronald Otsuka, was hired to shepherd the Asian-art department there. This December, Otsuka, the Joseph de Heer Curator of Asian Art, is stepping down, so it's no exaggeration to say that it is the end of an era.

Otsuka, whose grandparents came to California from Japan, grew up around Los Angeles, and outside of his Japanese ancestry, he had no special interest in Asian art. But then he spent his junior year of college in Japan, where he learned about the art not just of that country, but of China, Korea and Taiwan, as well.

See also: Shape & Spirit: Selections From the Lutz Bamboo Collection at the DAM

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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