Best thing to ever happen to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Director Mark Masuoka

In the brief but checkered history of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the fledgling institution, housed in a former fish market, has mostly floundered. But its lack of direction began to change with the dawn of the year 2000, when Mark Masuoka took over as the museum's director. Masuoka had come to town just a year before to take over the Emmanuel Gallery on the Auraria campus; he'd barely gotten settled in there when he was offered the MoCAD gig. And he immediately began to turn the place around, establishing the floor plan of the galleries, moving the gift shop, painting, building an information desk, and launching a program in which three shows will run simultaneously instead of only one, as was the previous practice. After a period of confusion, it looks like the MoCAD board finally found some clarity and made its best decision so far: bringing Masuoka on board.

Best thing to ever happen to the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Director Mark Masuoka

In the brief but checkered history of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the fledgling institution, housed in a former fish market, has mostly floundered. But its lack of direction began to change with the dawn of the year 2000, when Mark Masuoka took over as the museum's director. Masuoka had come to town just a year before to take over the Emmanuel Gallery on the Auraria campus; he'd barely gotten settled in there when he was offered the MoCAD gig. And he immediately began to turn the place around, establishing the floor plan of the galleries, moving the gift shop, painting, building an information desk, and launching a program in which three shows will run simultaneously instead of only one, as was the previous practice. After a period of confusion, it looks like the MoCAD board finally found some clarity and made its best decision so far: bringing Masuoka on board.

Best opportunity to catch up on the latest international art buzz

Contemporary British Artists Denver Art Museum

Last year, new British art made the scandal sheets by outraging New Yorkers when it was shown at the Brooklyn Museum. But months before that, many of the same artists seen in the Big Apple were part of a show right here in the Mile High City. Unlike the exhibit in New York, Contemporary British Artists came and went at the Denver Art Museum without raising nary an eyebrow. Before politics distracted us from the primary aesthetic experience, it was possible to see the work of British youth, from the notorious Damien Hirst to the cerebral Jason Martin, just like back East. Also in the show, which was organized by DAM curator Dianne Vanderlip in collaboration with former assistant curator Jane Fudge, were many older artists -- notably the neo-pop pair Gilbert and George. The show was clearly one of the best -- and obviously one of the most timely -- of a raft of British Invasion shows the DAM has put on in the past few years.

Best opportunity to catch up on the latest international art buzz

Contemporary British Artists Denver Art Museum

Last year, new British art made the scandal sheets by outraging New Yorkers when it was shown at the Brooklyn Museum. But months before that, many of the same artists seen in the Big Apple were part of a show right here in the Mile High City. Unlike the exhibit in New York, Contemporary British Artists came and went at the Denver Art Museum without raising nary an eyebrow. Before politics distracted us from the primary aesthetic experience, it was possible to see the work of British youth, from the notorious Damien Hirst to the cerebral Jason Martin, just like back East. Also in the show, which was organized by DAM curator Dianne Vanderlip in collaboration with former assistant curator Jane Fudge, were many older artists -- notably the neo-pop pair Gilbert and George. The show was clearly one of the best -- and obviously one of the most timely -- of a raft of British Invasion shows the DAM has put on in the past few years.

It was a presentation worthy of a museum -- not the Denver Art Museum, of course, since it pays scant attention to Colorado's rich art heritage, but a museum somewhere else. Exhibition organizer David Cook, who runs a pair of galleries side by side on Wazee Street, used a connoisseur's eye and a historian's judgment to infuse John F. Carlson and Artists of the Broadmoor Academy with a multiplicity of rewards. There were the seldom-seen masterworks by Carlson and other teachers at the long-closed Broadmoor Academy, including Robert Reid, Birger Sandzen and Ernest Lawson, and there was the work of their students -- in particular, dozens of pieces by Charles Bunnell, one of the state's first modern artists. The once nationally famous academy and its successor institution, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, shaped regional art for decades in the first half of the twentieth century, its influence felt all the way from Denver to Santa Fe. Cook not only assembled an impressive clutch of paintings and prints (and even a sculpture or two) by the academy's teachers and students, but he also commissioned an accompanying catalogue written by local art historian Stanley Cuba and salted the show with charming, historical photographs.
It was a presentation worthy of a museum -- not the Denver Art Museum, of course, since it pays scant attention to Colorado's rich art heritage, but a museum somewhere else. Exhibition organizer David Cook, who runs a pair of galleries side by side on Wazee Street, used a connoisseur's eye and a historian's judgment to infuse John F. Carlson and Artists of the Broadmoor Academy with a multiplicity of rewards. There were the seldom-seen masterworks by Carlson and other teachers at the long-closed Broadmoor Academy, including Robert Reid, Birger Sandzen and Ernest Lawson, and there was the work of their students -- in particular, dozens of pieces by Charles Bunnell, one of the state's first modern artists. The once nationally famous academy and its successor institution, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, shaped regional art for decades in the first half of the twentieth century, its influence felt all the way from Denver to Santa Fe. Cook not only assembled an impressive clutch of paintings and prints (and even a sculpture or two) by the academy's teachers and students, but he also commissioned an accompanying catalogue written by local art historian Stanley Cuba and salted the show with charming, historical photographs.
Popcorn ain't just popcorn anymore. For one thing, Landmark Theaters, Denver's leading art-house consortium, pops its Top O' the Crop kernels in low-fat canola oil -- not the heavier coconut oil most theaters use. For another, they drizzle real butter on top, if you like. For a third, moviegoers with the munchies get a choice of savory popcorn seasonings -- soy sauce, parmesan cheese, Spike multi-seasoning or -- don't knock it till you try it -- brewer's yeast.

Readers' choice: The Mayan

Popcorn ain't just popcorn anymore. For one thing, Landmark Theaters, Denver's leading art-house consortium, pops its Top O' the Crop kernels in low-fat canola oil -- not the heavier coconut oil most theaters use. For another, they drizzle real butter on top, if you like. For a third, moviegoers with the munchies get a choice of savory popcorn seasonings -- soy sauce, parmesan cheese, Spike multi-seasoning or -- don't knock it till you try it -- brewer's yeast.

Readers' choice: The Mayan

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art director Cydney Payton, together with freelance curator and art collector John Woodward, last year presented Vanguard Art in Colorado, a show that revealed a hidden art-historical fact: In Colorado, as in New York at the same time, a post-war generation of painters and sculptors embraced abstract expressionism and created a truly American-style art. Payton and Woodward selected impressive pieces by the likes of Vance Kirkland, Herbert Bayer, Charles Bunnell, Emerson Woelffer, Mary Chenoweth, Al Wynne, Ken Goehring, George Cecil Carter and many others, all borrowed from several private collections and institutions such as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Vance Kirkland Museum. Nothing came out of the Denver Art Museum, since relevant Colorado material once held by that establishment has long since been sold off. But as the DAM snoozes, smaller venues like BMoCA occasionally fill the void. Vanguard Art in Colorado contributed one of the best art exhibits in memory to the local scene.

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art director Cydney Payton, together with freelance curator and art collector John Woodward, last year presented Vanguard Art in Colorado, a show that revealed a hidden art-historical fact: In Colorado, as in New York at the same time, a post-war generation of painters and sculptors embraced abstract expressionism and created a truly American-style art. Payton and Woodward selected impressive pieces by the likes of Vance Kirkland, Herbert Bayer, Charles Bunnell, Emerson Woelffer, Mary Chenoweth, Al Wynne, Ken Goehring, George Cecil Carter and many others, all borrowed from several private collections and institutions such as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Vance Kirkland Museum. Nothing came out of the Denver Art Museum, since relevant Colorado material once held by that establishment has long since been sold off. But as the DAM snoozes, smaller venues like BMoCA occasionally fill the void. Vanguard Art in Colorado contributed one of the best art exhibits in memory to the local scene.

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