Guest Columns

STYLE MATTERS: Great Fashion Moments at the Denver Art Museum’s “Becoming Van Gogh” Gala

Contributing Columnist

The Denver Art Museum is on a roll. The institution has been staging one stellar exhibit after another. On the stiletto heels of the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit (shown only in Paris, Madrid and... Denver) to Madeleine Albright’s unusual collection of pins commemorating her diplomatic career, the DAM now brings to Colorado “Becoming Van Gogh,” the first major display of his work in the Rocky Mountain region.

Seven years in the making, this exhibit traces the artist’s career from his modest beginnings as a Dutch Masters wannabe in the style of Rembrandt to his discovery and use of color. Many viewers will be surprised by the relative absence of the riotous, swirling brush strokes of Van Gogh’s more famous “Starry Night” period. Instead the exhibit focuses on the early Vincent — landscapes and peasant scenes in browns, grays and muddy hues. As viewers proceed, they will be able to observe how Van Gogh’s skills and perspective evolved.

Mayor Michael Hancock and wife Mary Louise stand in front of the entrance to the exhibit. The mayor was positively beaming over the publicity and exposure “Becoming Van Gogh” will bring to the city. He also emphasized Denver’s commitment to the arts and the support the Scientific Cultural and Facilities District brings to these kind of events.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Curators Timothy Standring and Louis van Tilborgh were cognizant of the range of viewers this exhibit would attract. So they structured it to appeal to both the average museum-goer and the art history afficionado who prefer to focus on the more esoteric and obscure roots of Van Gogh’s evolution.

Mary Beth Susman, president of the Denver City Council, wows the crowd in a brown Elana Kattan that shows off her attractive figure.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

The exhibit is composed of 90 paintings donated by more than 60 lending institutions from around the world. “Becoming Van Gogh” is a DAM exclusive. Standring put it succinctly. “The world is gobsmacked that Denver got this exhibit.”

Exhibit co-curators Louis van Tilborgh, senior researcher of Paintings at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and Timothy Standring, the Gates Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture, share a moment of victory.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

As such it is bound to attract many out-of-town visitors. Christoph Heinrich, DAM director, said that for prior exhibits of this caliber, 40 percent of the museum-goers came from outside Denver. Capitalizing on this, Visit Denver, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, has teamed up with about 11 hotels in the area to create packages and promotions around the exhibit. (www. vangoghdenver.com). Style Matters heard that tix are already going fast.


State Senator Pat Steadman, looking quite natty in a tuxedo and bow tie, attracted more than just Style Matters’ attention. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock made sure to point out to the crowd that Sen. Steadman is a member of the powerful Joint Budget Committee. Friend Enedina Andrews is wearing a lovely red burnt velvet top.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

At the news conference announcing the show, Deputy Mayor Cary Kennedy summarized the importance of these blockbuster exhbitions. “Becoming Van Gogh keeps the DAM in the forefront of the art world,” she said. And it’s one more “get” that will help make Denver a world class city.”

Museum member Vicki Johnson wore a simple black cocktail dress embellished with one eye-catching silver strap. Buddy Meghan Saleebey added a blue scarf to her striped black sheath.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Judie Schwartz, whose Style Matters columns appear in The Colorado Statesman, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at stylematters.us. Schwartz presents seminars on the importance of a professional image, shopping tips and fashion trends. She can be reached at:
stylematters1@gmail.com
www.stylematters.us
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Museum supporter Natalie Rekstad-Lynn with husband Scott selected a zebra-striped Roberto Cavalli long gown accessorized with several paint brushes in her updo.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Two museum supporters pose in front of a Lamborghini kindly supplied by Sill-Ter-Har Motors, one of the sponsors of “Becoming Van Gogh.” Tobey Borus wears a sparkly turquoise, pink, and purple sheath by Trina Turk, and investment manager Cintra Pollack chose a dress by Erdem, a popular British-Turkish designer.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Sarah Bierice shows off a vintage Lanvin gown given to her by her mother. The color block style is still current today.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Style Matters loves to attend galas at the DAM because members and their guests go all out to show their creativity in dress. And why not? If not at the DAM, then where? That’s just the question museum member and economist Lisa Kessler asked herself. She came up with a hand-painted, hand-woven salmon colored silk kimono that she bought in Japan. Surely one of the stand-outs of the evening. Style Matters wonders if Lisa knew that Van Gogh went through a short Japanese period.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Lanny Martin, right, co-chair of the museum’s board of trustees, and community mover-and-shaker and spouse Sharon Martin in a stunning gold jacket, laud the power that collaboration among many institutions can create, citing the Van Gogh exhibit as a perfect example.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Museum Trustee and chairman of the board of the University of Denver Tryg Myhren escorted his wife Vicki who was a vision in a gold Marchesa gown.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
“Becoming Van Gogh keeps the DAM in the forefront of the art world,” says Cary Kennedy, deputy mayor of Denver.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
The prize for the most creative ensemble of the evening goes to Edee Anesj. She paired a BCBG Max Azria black lace top with a long white tulle skirt from Anthropologie and Vince Camuto turquoise sequin pumps. Having adorable friend Pacha Ghanei at her side (they met at CU) didn’t hurt either.
Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman