The Prix de West, considered the premier Western invitational art exhibition in the world, is now a yearly trek for me. The western, wildlife and landscape artwork was once again exceptional.
Steve, one of our members, made this year’s show much more memorable. He took time away from work to hang out with me from opening to closing. If you have a chance to attend the show, it’s a lot more fun bouncing your ideas and thoughts off a good friend as you view the paintings.
My Favorite Paintings
Even though I paint landscapes and flowers wildlife art has always been close to my heart. I painted several wildlife pieces in college – a bear, mountain goats, geese. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t keep at it.
Many of the best wildlife artists I knew like Leon Parson and Carl Runguis were hunters. Maybe it was because I wasn’t a hunter – I can’t stand the thought of hurting anything. So with my limited access, I didn’t think I could understand the anatomy and character of the animals enough to bring them to life with paint.
This brings me to one of my favorite living artists: Greg Beecham. His wildlife art is a mesmerizing display of light, color and pure painting magic.
If you study original paintings that focus on realism, often the paint is applied in thin layers and washes. Greg uses the texture of thicker paint to create the illusion of details. His paintings are fascinating and beautiful whether you’re inches from the canvas or ten feet away.
His motto as an artist is right up my alley – and he definitely lives up to it – “Do all things as unto the Lord and get so good you can’t be ignored.”
One of his paintings shocked me. Tender Mercies is crazily colorful for a wildlife painting and I love it!
Some other paintings I would have loved to take home were:
Brent Cotton’s In the Twilight Glow 36×48 which sold for $22,000. The photo doesn’t do it justice – you need to see the original.
Len Chmiel’s Lost in Space – a 34×40 inch oil painting for $36,000 that did not sell.
Star Signs 30×40 – oil painting by David Mann that sold for $17,000 at the Prix de West
Logan Hagege’s Sagebrush Wanderers – a 43×61 inch oil painting that sold for $68,500.
Also, a shout out to Scott Christensen. When I went to see the two-person show of his and Quang Ho’s, Scott was experimenting with thicker paint texture. That experimentation has paid off.
His overall body of work was exceptional. I love what he is doing with thicker paint – it adds a wonderful extra dimension to his paintings.
Yellowstone Geyser 24×26 – oil painting by Scott Christensen that sold for $12,500 at the Prix de West
If you have a chance, the Prix de West is one show that is worth a day’s drive. When you go, make sure you plan your stay so you can be there from opening to closing. There’s so much extraordinary art Steve and I could have easily spent another day or two at the Museum.
An art show like the Prix de West is a fantastic opportunity to not only see brilliant art – it can also teach us how complicated and unpredictable the sale of the artwork is. Some artists who sold every painting last year sold only one this year – or none at all.
Next week I plan to talk about that unpredictable nature of art sales using the Prix de West as an example.
We see those huge $ signs after some of the paintings and think those artists have it made. Some of them have achieved a level of financial freedom that is incredible. Most of the time though it takes a person willing to sacrifice financial pursuits to be an artist.