Show Preview | Best of the Best

Bartlesville, OK
Woolaroc Museum, October 7-December 31

Dean Mitchell, Rowena, oil, 30 x 40, collection of R.D. and Joan Dale Hubbard.

Dean Mitchell, Rowena, oil, 30 x 40, collection of R.D. and Joan Dale Hubbard.

This story was featured in the September 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  September 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

The second Best of the Best Retrospective Exhibit and Sale returns to the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve this month with a selection of old and new works by eight prominent artists. Named after its wooded environs and surrounding lakes and rocks, the museum provides a quiet, secluded backdrop for this special exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Bill Anton, George Carlson, Tim Cherry, Len Chmiel, Steve Kestrel, T. Allen Lawson, Dean Mitchell, and Andrew Peters. The event opens with an elegant dinner for artists and sponsors on Friday, October 6, followed by artists’ presentations on Saturday afternoon and a reception and sale that evening at 6 p.m.

“This show really opens people’s eyes to what’s available out here,” says museum director Shiloh Thurman. Tucked away in the Osage Hills of northeastern Oklahoma, the museum grounds encompass a 37,000-acre wildlife preserve with a little bit of everything, he adds. “Within the preserve, you have a 50,000-square-foot, world-class museum with some of the best western art and Native American artifacts, and a historic lodge that remains largely untouched,” says Thurman. “All these different facets combine to make Woolaroc a magical place.”

The Best of the Best debuted in 2015 with a spotlight on contemporary wildlife art, but this year the museum welcomes a group of artists whose works cover varied subject matter and themes. “They are truly eight examples of the best of the best contemporary artists in America today,” says show director Dean Zervas. A show of this scope and caliber takes time to organize, notes Zervas, and hence it seems to work best as a biannual event. Each artist contributes about 20 pieces, including older works borrowed from private and personal collections, offering visitors a rare look at their evolution over time.

When selecting his 12 retrospective pieces, Dean Mitchell says he went out of his way to choose paintings that showcase his full artistic range. His oeuvre comprises still lifes, landscapes, and figurative works in both oils and water media, and it also reflects varied styles, from more traditional, academic painting to abstraction. “I don’t fall into any box,” says Mitchell. “This is my chance to show people the depth and breadth of what I do.”

Among the Florida artist’s eight new works are contemporary portraits, urban scenes, and portrayals of western Indian reservations. “Beyond beautiful execution, I’m trying to take people into places that are uncomfortable,” says Mitchell. “The human experience is beautiful, but layered with complexity.”

Native Canadian Tim Cherry’s retrospective of 17 wildlife sculptures includes
both bronze and stainless-steel pieces and spans the past 20 years, revealing his playful, ever-evolving approach to design. “In the last few years, I’ve been experimenting with hard textures against smooth surfaces,” he says. Cherry’s four new pieces include a life-size bronze mountain lion modeled after a sculpture he completed in 1991. “I thought it was fun and fitting to take a design from my beginning days and bring it forward to today,” he says. “It’s my ode to the past and present.” —Kim Agricola

contact information
918.336.0307
www.woolaroc.org

This story was featured in the September 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  September 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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