The biggest surprise Ruth & I had on our summer trip was Denver’s American Museum of Western Art. We went there because it’s #12 on Atlas Obscura’s list of 19 cool, hidden, and unusual things to do there. It turned out to be a non-traditional western art museum of exceptional quality. The most common thing the staff told us was how often visitors tell them how surprised they are. The most common word uttered by those visitors is, “Wow!” Atlas Obscura accurately calls this museum, “One of Denver’s best-kept secrets”.
Among the American Museum of Western Art’s sources is the Taos Society of Artists, and it exhibits the Anschutz’s Collection of more than 600 genuine works of art from 180+ artists. That’s what makes it so sensational. It also makes it hard for me to convey its greatness without showing many examples of its collection, which is 90% copyrighted and can’t be photographed. I had to get permission to show the 2 that are on this blog.
This museum’s in the old Navarre building and less than 10 years old. The building has quite a history. It’s first resident was a school for women, and its second was the Hotel Richelieu, which was a brothel. This decorous museum’s website calls it a gentleman’s club. This western art nerve center wasn’t opened to the public until 2010. Its brochure recommends taking one’s time to explore the Anschutz Collection with the audio guide that accompanies any paid admission. This is good advice.
One of my favorite paintings among the O’Keeffes, Remingtons, and Bentons is Maynard Dixon’s “Desert Journey”. It shows a silhouetted cowboy riding along a mesa with other mesas behind him. Seven-eights of the painting is stormy sky. I couldn’t take a picture of it to show you, but it’s on the American Museum of Western Art’s website.
Featured artist Gerard Delano used to put a red dot on the paintings that he judged were his best. The American Museum of Western Art is a “red dot” place!
ps I thank Kristin Fong for sending me W.T. Ranney’s “The Trapper’s Last Shot” (below) and E.L. Blumenschein’s “Sangre De Christo” (at the top) to use on this blog. I hope they encourage you to head for Denver.