Prix de West: An Artistic Peek into Life in the Wild West

the opening hallway to the art gallery of the Prix de West

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has long been one of my absolute favorite art museums in Oklahoma. I especially look forward every year to the Prix de West.

The Prix de West is a prestigious nationwide Western art competition hosted annually by the Museum and it involves more than 300 pieces of art. At the beginning of the summer, the competition is held and winners determined. Then the art is displayed in a special exhibit for the rest of the summer.

From life-size portraits of animals to sweeping scenery, this masterful artwork transports you to different times in history and tells the story of people and their lives in the Wild West.

If you haven’t had a chance to go yet, August 11, 2019 is the last day to see this year’s competitors! But the Purchase Award winner will join a permanent Prix de West exhibit in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

This year’s art did not disappoint. So I thought I’d share some of my favorites from this stunning exhibit. The great thing about visiting a competition like this annually is that you get to know the artists and see how their work develops over the years!

Big disclaimer: my photos don’t do this art justice! Please go visit yourself to get the full effect!

People and Their Stories

a painting of a family inside a stagecoach packed with luggage for the ride
The Stagecoach Journey – Morgan Weistling

I could look at this painting The Stagecoach Journey for a long time! Morgan Weistling is so great at creating a story with his artwork. You can sense the different emotions and imagine what is going on.

a close-up of the Stagecoach Journey showing two girls and an older woman inside the stagecoach

For example, here we sense the little girl’s curiosity, while in the background, the older lady grips her handbag for the jolting ride.

a painting of an older lady sits beneath an ancient tree with the dusk light in a canyon behind her
Deep Roots – Scott Tillman Powers

Doesn’t this painting just warm your heart? The elderly lady under the ancient tree in the warm light. Scott Tillman Power’s title Deep Roots seems very fitting.

a painting of a little red-haired girl holds a white cat
Annalise and Kitty – Susan Lyon

The blurred lines and cozy light also give a warm impression of this girl and her furry friend in Susan Lyon’s Annalise and Kitty. She used a combination of watercolors and pastels to produce that effect.

a charcoal drawing of a young woman hold a string of beads
Grandmother’s Beads – Susan Lyon

I’m always impressed by Susan Lyon’s masterful ability to wield charcoal, especially when creating such powerful portraits in just black and white. They say that eyes are the window to the soul and the eyes in her pictures especially seem to be just that.

a painting of a young Native American woman dressed traditionally stands behind tall white trees
Communion with the Tall People – John Coleman

Not only does the light highlight the young woman’s face beautifully, the textures of her clothing and the trees in John Coleman’s painting look like you could touch them!

a painting of a little girl with a blue bonnet and blue eyes sits on a hill of flowers
Lupine Hill – Jeremy Lipking

The little girl’s eyes just pop out amidst the background of the lupine fields. Her features are so realistic!

The artist Jeremy Lipking is one of the many well-recognized masters that contribute to the Prix de West; in 2013, Lipking was named one of the 75 greatest artists of all time by the American Artist magazine.

Landscapes and Light

a painting of sheep are herded down a dusty road at dusk
Crossroads – Jeremy Lipking

In another painting from Jeremy Lipking, you can feel the dust kicked up by the animals, as the sun sets in the background.

a painting of a figure stands at the edge of a river amidst tall trees in a forest
My Favorite Time of the Year – Brent Cotton

I would be very happy to receive this oil painting or any of the four in this year’s set painted by Brent Cotton as a Christmas gift! Yes, all of the artwork in the Prix de West is available for purchase. Unfortunately for me, these particular paintings have already been sold.

Cotton’s use of the play of light and shadow, as well as his detail in the rippling of the water, is so effective and calming. Honestly, this photo doesn’t do the actual artwork justice. Just go see it!

Animals

a painting of a gray wolf comes toward the viewer
The Huntress – Greg Beecham

This wolf literally appears to be jumping out of Greg Beecham’s painting!

a painting of a brown otter swims in the water
Wet and Wild – Daniel Smith

And I wouldn’t want to be touched by this soaking wet otter! The attention to detail in the texture is incredible! No, this isn’t a photograph, but an acrylic by Daniel Smith!

a butterfly carved out of granite
Butterfly and Bitterroots – Steve Kestrel

Oils/pencils/charcoal are the not the only mediums featured in the Prix de West. You’ll also find statues made of all kinds of materials.

Steve Kestrel created this impressive butterfly from granite riverstones!

Textures and Perception

a painting of yellow and green beaded moccasins hanging on the wall next to a picture of two figures
Waiting – William Acheff

I always look for William Acheff’s artwork every year. Look at the beading on those moccasins in this oil painting! The 3D shoes against the 2D picture seem to make a statement.

His trademark is the scotch tape which he usually puts somewhere in his paintings. See if you can find it!

a bronze statue of a procession of pilgrims coming from church
The Procession – Paul Moore

This year’s Prix de West Purchase Award winner is this bronze masterpiece titled The Procession by Oklahoman Paul Moore. The pilgrims walk straight out of the frame towards you! It is set on a church altar. You may already be familiar with Moore’s artwork, because he created the Oklahoma Land Run Monument larger-than-life statues that are on the south end of the OKC Bricktown canal!

The Procession is actually one of five works that Moore prepared for the Prix de West, which also won the Robert Lougheed award. I’ve not revealed the other Prix de West prize winners, so you can look for those, when you go in person!

As you’ve probably deduced, one of my favorite kinds of art is realism. But the exhibit features far more styles, including contemporary and impressionistic, than what I showed above. You’ll definitely want to make a trip of your own to the Prix de West at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in OKC!

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