By Kristin Hoerth
I wish every art enthusiast could attend the annual Prix de West Invitational show and sale, which is held each year in June at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK. I just returned from the event, and I was reminded once again what a first-class celebration of art and artists it is. While the show is full of terrific western paintings and sculpture, it also includes stellar still lifes, landscapes, and figurative works for those who prefer other representational genres.
One of the first things that stood out to me at the Friday-evening preview was the high quality of the three-dimensional pieces in this year’s show. My personal taste often runs more to paintings than to sculpture, but I was impressed by the works of Tony Angell, Gerald Balciar, John Coleman, Ross Matteson, Dan Ostermiller, and Sandy Scott, among others. And I wasn’t the only one: Coleman’s striking piece entitled 1876, GALL–SITTING BULL–CRAZY HORSE, which depicts three of the principals in the Battle of Little Bighorn, won the Buyers’ Choice Award as well as the award for best sculpture.
Other awards announced at the Saturday-evening banquet were the Artists’ Choice Award for the best body of work, which went to Bill Anton. He also received the award for the best cowboy subject matter. Craig Tennant won the award for the best painting. Kyle Sims, a young artist exhibiting at Prix de West for the first time, drew everyone’s attention with a dramatic painting of two bison, which won the award for the top wildlife painting. And finally, the coveted Prix de West purchase award went to Tom Browning for his painting THE DAWN OF A NEW DAY, which depicts a frontier woman looking out the window of her home.
When all was said and done, some 1,100 art lovers in attendance enjoyed 343 artworks created by 108 artists, and more than $3 million worth of art was sold—an impressive total in what has been a difficult year in the art world. If you missed the show’s opening weekend, it’s not too late to see the artwork, which remains on view at the museum through September 7. It comes with my highest recommendation. -August 2009