The annual Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival unfolded this past weekend amid a series of sunny days and chilly nights. One of the highlights was the Western Visions show at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. By the way, the museum is a piece of artwork itself—a low-slung building constructed of red sandstone that blends seamlessly into its setting on a rugged cliff.
At Friday night’s show, Steve Devenyns from Cody, WY, took home top honors—the Red Smith Award for his snowy western scene depicting a cowboy and his horse. Donald Crowley’s engaging painting, That Certain Smile, won the People’s Choice award while September Vhay’s minimalist portrayal of two birds received the museum’s purchase award. Z.S. Liang’s evocative portrait of a Native American chief was the top seller, going for $42,500. At one point, a brief but heated bidding war broke out when two collectors battled over a Christopher Blossom sketch of a schooner. The piece eventually sold for $4,100.
Meanwhile on Saturday bidding was fast and high for works by both deceased and living artists at the Jackson Hole Art Auction. For example, the top lot was a William Leigh [1866-1955] western painting that sold for $360,000. But living artists also racked up some hefty totals such as Mian Situ’s multi-figured portrait of Asian families arriving at a San Francisco port in 1910. It sold for $350,000. A Martin Grelle painting depicting two Indians on horseback went for $110,000.
The officials at the museum and auction are still tallying total sales but one staffer commented on the preliminary results saying, “We are shocked, amazed, and pleased at how well we did.” –Bonnie Gangelhoff