Show Preview | Women Artists of the West

Bartlesville, OK
Price Tower Arts Center, September 21-November 4

Judy Fairley, Contemplation, pastel, 12 x 22.

Judy Fairley, Contemplation, pastel, 12 x 22.

This story was featured in the September 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Art lovers are invited to relish not one but three showcases of fine art at Women Artists of the West’s 48th annual national juried exhibition, Tallgrass Rendezvous, which opens this month in Bartlesville, OK. It all kicks off with a reception and awards ceremony at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 21, at Price Tower Arts Center. In addition to the robust collection of paintings and sculptures on view, visitors can enjoy numerous artists’ demonstrations scheduled between 8 a.m. and noon on Saturday, September 22. 

Located within a 19-story skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the spacious arts center is a “very different venue from others we’ve exhibited in,” says WAOW president Sarah Kennedy. “The entire lower level and the second-floor mezzanine are converted into a gallery space with 19 rooms for our show,” she adds. The main attraction, of course, is the juried exhibition of 186 artworks by WAOW’s signature and associate members, but the show also highlights the talents of master signature members in a separate exhibit space. And yet another exhibit honors the group’s gifted Legacy members and founders. In their tribute, the show catalog recounts the stories of many of these women, whose passion for art and feisty resolve helped pave the way for WAOW’s success today, says event co-chair Burneta Venosdel. “The women who organized this group probably couldn’t fathom that it would still be going strong,” she adds. “It’s a tribute to their good roots.”

Kennedy enthusiastically concurs. “They had a tough road ahead of them and really banded together,” she says. “In the 1970s, women were supposed to be making dinner and driving their kids around. It took a lot of tenacity to get this group going and help it thrive and grow.” Indeed, once limited to just 35 western artists, WAOW’s all-female troupe now comprises 350 painters and sculptors who hail from as far away as Australia and who work in both western and non-western subject matter. “We paint and sculpt everything,” says Venosdel. “As long as it’s realistic or impressionistic, that’s pretty much our mantra.”

For Legacy member B.R. Gates, of Fort Worth, TX, the show’s location in the Sooner State this year is especially meaningful. The artist grew up in the Tulsa area and often taps into her Oklahoma roots when painting. Her piece in the show, a sunlit still life titled MAMA’S KITCHEN VIII, features a cherished place that still evokes fond memories for Gates: her mother’s kitchen in Tulsa. “On visits home, I couldn’t resist arranging flowers and vegetables from her garden, along with eggs from her chickens, on her dining room table,” says the artist, now 91. “She canned her own vegetables and had a well-stocked pantry so that I had plenty of jars to pick from.”

Master signature member Ilene Gienger-Stanfield brings DECISIONS [see page 36], a painting whose young star represents the ranching life and the “tough responsibilities” that come with it, says the artist. “Being raised on a ranch, I have a nostalgic and respectful outlook on the lifestyle,” says Gienger-Stanfield. “An old dairy farm is available to me for artistic ventures, so I decided to capitalize on that nostalgia by giving a glimpse of a rural value system.” As for the brooding boy in denim overalls, she adds, “At this tender age he’s reflecting on whether he wants to follow in his forefathers’ tracks or make his own.” —Kim Agricola

contact information
918.868.6070
www.waow.org

This story was featured in the September 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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