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Megan Rossman, Photography Editor
Photo by Lori Duckworth
By Megan Rossman
June 22, 2017
June marks the beginning of the annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition & Sale at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Since its inception in 1973, the show has been a visual tour de force, boasting the world’s top Western artists, like Allan Houser, Tom Lovell, Martin Grelle, and thousands more.
One of the biggest surprises I took away from my first visit to the show in 2016 was the diversity of styles and mediums within modern Western art. Not being familiar with it, I thought a walk through 300-plus pieces of Western art might feel repetitive, but this well-curated collection had the opposite effect. I was blown away. In fact, the entire museum really is a sight to behold any time of year. From the four-ton The End of the Trail sculpture that towers over the lobby to labyrinths of galleries and gardens, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is vastly explorable.
Whether you’re already a fan of the Western persuasion or even if you’ve never set foot in the museum, do yourself a favor and get acquainted through August 6. If you like art at all, you won’t be disappointed.
Here are some of my personal favorites from this year’s Prix de West.
I Sia Eee-Oh by Ross Matteson
Photos don’t do justice to one of the first pieces you’ll encounter when you enter the hall, this sculpture by Washington state artist Ross Matteson. Birds are a frequently recurring theme at Prix de West.
Dusk in Des Montes by David A. Leffel
This is one of those paintings you wish you could step into. The warm setting sun and vivid colors make me want to know more about Des Montes.
The Nursery Tree by T. Allen Lawson
Every year, the National Cowboy & Western Museum purchases one of the paintings from Prix de West to add to its collection, giving it the Robert Lougheed Memorial Award. This year’s pick was the The Nursery Tree by Wyoming landscape painter T. Allen Lawson. Even if you miss the Prix de West show, these purchase award paintings dating back to 1973 are visible year-round in the museum’s Prix de West gallery.
Embers of Twilight by Brent Cotton
It would be hard to pick the show’s most beautiful painting, but this one is surely a contender.
Winter Solstice by Josh Elliott
Let’s talk about frames for a second. A lot of them are a work of art unto themselves, and you’ll see a lot of incredible frames like this one at Prix de West. It looks like it was forged for House Stark on the Iron Islands, but somehow made its way to Josh Elliott in Montana. It’s incredible. So is the snowy, sunny, slice of forest it contains. Elliott has another wintry piece I like in the show called Morning Chores.
Girl With Silk Flowers and Four Earrings by William E. Sharer
Beautiful, and, again, that frame. Wow.
Sunshine Equine by Poteet Victory
If you haven’t caught on already, I like landscapes. This is Idabel-born artist Poteet Victory’s first year exhibiting at Prix de West. His vibrant style has made him a star in the Santa Fe art scene, where he now lives and works. Suggestion: Check out our story about him in the current July/August issue of Oklahoma Today.
Bluebird Sings by Kent Ullberg
This Texas artist wowed me last year with his corpulent manatee sculpture, and this year he’s doing it with his birds. Well done, Kent.
Horse Catcher by Harold T. Holden
Kremlin artist Harold Holden has been exhibiting in Prix de West for twenty-three years and was inducted into the museum’s Hall of Great Westerners earlier in 2017. His huge public sculptures can be seen around the state. Shameless plug: If you want to learn more about Holden, read my story in the July/August issue of Oklahoma Today.