Presented by Thomas Brent Smith, director and curator, Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum

With their long-standing connection to history painting and accounts of westward expansion, works of western American art have more often than not been viewed, celebrated, and critiqued more on the basis of historical authenticity than artistic merit. This has left the field with distinct barriers and limited its inclusiveness. Rethinking the boundaries of western American art with a consideration for artistic merit rather than historical authenticity can shape a more robust canon.

Since joining the Denver Art Museum in 2008, Thomas Brent Smith has overseen the growth of its western art collection and its ambitious projects, including its highly successful annual symposia and the publication series Western Passages. His numerous curatorial projects include groundbreaking exhibitions such as The American West in Bronze with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Western: An Epic in Art and Film with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and A Place in the Sun: The Southwest Paintings of Walter Ufer and E. Martin Hennings. Smith has co-authored or edited books on a wide range of topics related to western American art, including the award-winning Once Upon a Time . . . The Western: A New Frontier in Art and Film (2019). Smith is a former Getty Leadership Institute fellow and current president of the Museums West consortium.

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