Harmsen Museum of Art

Golden, CO



Harmsen Western Art Exhibit at Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce


The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce is welcoming visitors to the Harmsen Western Art exhibit. Located at 1445 Market St. in Denver, Colorado, the Chamber is providing free guided public tours of the Harmsen exhibit Mondays and Fridays 4-6 p.m. through the end of 2000. Guided tours are conducted by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts and are limited to 15 people for each scheduled tour. Reservations are required for all tours and can be made by calling the Museum Reservation Line at 303-277-1649. (left: Gerard Curtis Delano (1890-1972), Friend or Foe?, n.d., oil on canvas, 23 x 40 inches; right: Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874), The Scalp Lock, oil, 35 z 28 1/2 inches)

Through a partnership with the Harmsen Museum of Art, the Chamber exhibit has 82 of the most important works from the Harmsen's collection, which includes pieces by every founding member of the Taos Society of Artists and works by many members of the Sante Fe/Taos Society. Completing the collection are pieces by celebrated artists such as John Mix Stanley, Alfred Jacob Miller , Georgia O'Keeffe, Frederic Remington and others.

In her cover letter to our magazine, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce representative Jennifer Yamnitz colorfully explains:

"Like the deadheads of the '70s, Bill and Dorothy Harmsen spent 30 years driving a bus across the American West. But, rather than peace, love, and harmony, they filled the bus with western art, amassing a 3,500-piece collection of paintings, Navajo rugs, baskets, jewelry, ceramics and sculptures. But, the collection remains as transient as a Grateful Dead follower, with no museum
currently housing the Harmsen's extensive collection. So, where does art go when it doesn't have a home?
Eighty-two of the most important works from the Harmsen Collection have taken up residence at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce... Throughout their travels the Harmsens searched for works that were culturally and artistically significant. Among the works on display, is an extraordinary piece by George Catlin, "Mandan Okipa Ceremony." Dating from 1834, the piece depicts a Mandan coming of age ceremony. Three years after this painting was completed, a small pox epidemic nearly wiped out the Mandan tribe and its culture. Robert Henri's "Tom Po Qui" may also be viewed at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. This artistically distinguished piece demonstrates Henri's style of combining traditional academic painting with impressionism."

"The Denver Metro Chamber is committed to developing and supporting the arts and the cultural life of this community," said Doug Jones, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Board. "By partnering with the Harmsen Museum, we are demonstrating that commitment and providing public access to this unique Western art collection." Bill and Dorothy Harmsen, who are the founders of the Jolly Rancher Candy Company, purchased and amassed the collection for nearly 40 years. Until a permanent location for the Harmsen Museum is constructed, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce is the only place to view their one of a kind collection.

left to right: Frank Tenney Johnson (1874-1939), Indian Attack, oil, 40 x 50 inches; LaVerne Nelson Black (1887-1938), Night Out in Taos, oil, 16 x 20 inches; E. Martin Hennings (1886-1956), Rabbit Hunt, oil, 36 x 40 inches

Readers may also enjoy Internet-published articles on the Taos Society of Artists and the Santa Fe Colony of Artists, our section on 20th Century Western Genre Art and our earlier article The West In American Art From the William and Dorothy Harmsen Collection of Western Americana (7/20/98)


Editor's note: After the publication of the above article in April, 2000, Bill and Dorothy Harmsen, founders of the Jolly Rancher Candy Company, gifted more than 2,000 pieces of Western art and American Indian art to the Denver Art Museum from the Harmsen Art Museum Foundation. Dorothy Harmsen and her late husband, Bill, were avid art collectors who amassed more than 3,000 pieces of Western and American Indian art during their 40 years of collecting.

In October, 2004 the Denver Art Museum announced a gift 85 pieces from the Harmsen Collection to the Colorado Community College System (CCCS, including sculptures by 20th century American sculptor Adrien Voisin. As part of the original agreement of the gift from the Harmsens, the Denver Art Museum was allowed to donate appropriate works to public institutions for educational purposes.

The Bill and Dorothy Harmsen Art Collection at the Denver Art Museum includes paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and photographs, as well as American Indian rugs, textiles, baskets, pottery, clothing, and artifacts. Among the best known painters and sculptors represented in the Collection are Charles M. Russell, George Catlin, Charles Bird King, John Mix Stanley, N. C. Wyeth, Henry Farny, Robert Henri, and all members of the "Taos Ten." (source: October 7, 2004 news release from the Denver Art Museum)

rev. 7/21/05

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

rev. 1/15/11

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