National Western Stock Show Complex, January 5-24
This story was featured in the January 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Readers with New Year’s resolutions to view (and perhaps invest in) more art in 2016 needn’t look further than the Coors Western Art Exhibit and Sale, a venerable show held in conjunction with the National Western Stock Show in Denver, CO. In its 23rd year, the show features 62 contemporary representational artists from North America and Europe who depict the western way of life. The show opens with a Red Carpet Gala Reception on Tuesday, January 5, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at the National Western Complex Expo Hall.
Rose Fredrick, who has curated the show since 1997, says she looks for artists who speak to what’s happening today. “It’s not just about the beauty of the West, but the issues we have in the West,” she says. Fredrick is always looking for new voices; this year the show welcomes new artists Jeffrey Berryman, Chris Maynard, and Michael Scott, among others. Returning this year are Sophy Brown, G. Russell Case, Quang Ho, Teresa Elliott, Dean Mitchell, and Dan Young, to name a few. Don Coen [see page 46] is the featured artist.
Works on view range in style from hyperrealism to near abstraction. Each artist is invited to feature three pieces in the main show and four miniatures in the silent auction; overall, the show features some 400 works. Patrons who wish to participate in the fixed-price sale may submit intent-to-purchase slips beginning at 5:30 p.m.; drawings begin at 7:30 p.m.
New Mexico painter Michael Scott is new to the show this year, though he is hardly new to western art. His work epitomizes the show’s focus. “In some ways, his work is tongue in cheek, but in other ways, he’s really having this deeper conversation about the West. He deals with how the West was settled and how we continue to live in the West in a way that goes beyond myth,” Fredrick says. Scott brings two pieces from his Farny Fables series, inspired by the work of 19th-century illustrator Henry Farny. “I’m a conceptual artist, though I paint realism. [The series] has to do with the difference between value and worth,” he says. Scott’s third piece ARCADE BUFFALO, is from Buffalo Bulbs Wild West Show, a series that combines the themes (and the trompe l’oeil techniques) of the 1600s Dutch tulip crash and Buffalo Bill Cody’s hucksterism. “In America, capitalism has its downsides. We take something that’s humble and beautiful and commercialize it to the point where it no longer has its original meaning,” Scott says.
According to Fredrick, Sophy Brown’s work reflects another essential show theme: man’s relationship to nature. Brown says, “I look at horses because their feet are so firmly planted in nature. They speak to us about our own animal place. I see all of life there.” Each of her three large works focuses on a single horse in which there is a suggestion of human contact, though no overt presence. Known for her brilliantly colored bucking broncos, Brown’s submissions this year are somewhat darker than usual—both emotionally and in color palette.
Several events accompany the sale, including a symposium on the lives and works of Walter Ufer and E. Martin Hennings presented at the Denver Art Museum on Wednesday, January 6 [see page 38]. The Coors show is open to the public January 10 through 25.
—Ashley M. Biggers
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