OKLAHOMA CITY – A snowy owl shakes the cold from its feathers in an Ontario churchyard, a view thanks to painter Ron Kingswood.
A mountain lion stares the viewer down at eye level, as painted by Bonnie Marris.
“Every piece of fur is detailed,” marvels Cowboy Museum President Natalie Shirley.
Staff at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum have already had a chance to see some of the new art just now being hung in their galleries, and they have favorites, Shirley included.
“Every year I make a list,” she smiles. “It usually has 10 pieces on it my first time through. The second time through it will have 17. The third time through it will have 40.”
Over the past 49 years, the Prix de West Art Sale and Exhibition has gathered new art from some of the finest painters and sculptors in the world.
Oklahomans in that number include Harold Holden, who is a cowboy himself, oil town kid Sherrie Morgan, who, later, moved to New York to perfect her still life skills, and Sonya Terpening.
She lives in Texas now but learned her fall colors and expressionistic lilies at Oklahoma State University.
“The volume is incredible,” Shirley continues, “but it’s not just the volume, it’s the quality.”
The subjects come from western landscapes and culture, so, you see lots of mountains and mountain men.
You see cowboys and cows too.
But the cool thing about art is that you see these things through the lens of another eye.
Another staffer here, Seth Spillman, has his favorites too.
“This is world class art that anyone can come and see,” he says.
One is Scott Burdick’s Native American portrait which stands in relief of its colorful background.
“You have cowboys. You have Native Americans,” he says. “But you have a lot more things that would be a little more unexpected.”
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The views of the West are ones we’re familiar with, but only here can viewers realize just how many ways we can see the same thing.
The 49th Prix de West sale and exhibition opens to the public Monday, June 7, 2021. The art will be on display through August 8.
For more information go to nationalcowboymuseum.org/prixdewest.