Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale
Over the past 25 years, the Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale has become one of the largest contemporary Western art exhibitions. The event, which is a fundraiser for the National Western Scholarship Trust, is part of the annual National Western Stock Show, and highlights the work of more than 60 contemporary realists from North America and Europe. This year’s 26th edition kicks off Tuesday, January 8, with the Red Carpet Gala Reception, and is then open to the public during the stock show from January 12 through 27.
During last year’s event more than 1,000 attendees were present for the gala, which is the first chance for visitors to view the artwork and meet the exhibiting artist, while over 30,000 patrons came through the doors during the exhibition’s run. At the show, visitors are treated to works by artists such as Michael Blessing, Kenneth Bunn, Teresa Elliott, Andy Evansen, Douglas Fryer, Stephanie Hartshorn, Quang Ho, Steve Kestrel, Jivan Lee, Eric Merrell, Billyo O’donnell, Howard Post, Tim Shinabarger and Jill Soukup, to name a few.
Each year a featured artist is named, with the 2019 honoree being Terry Gardner of Morrison, Colorado.
Gardner, who has exhibited in the show for 15 years, had his painting Purple Rider selected by the Coors Western Art Advisory Committee as the signature piece. The painting, which will reside in the National Western’s permanent collection, will be available for sale as posters during the show.
“Every painting is an emotional investment depicting the intimate corners of the American West,” Gardner says. “Some are close to home, some are high in the mountains, but all capture the spirit of the surroundings and are intended to invite contemplation. From drawings and studies are born paintings, and what is reflected are modern, compassionate images of a place I love, the American West.”
Other artwork featured at Coors includes O’donnell’s painting Above Silverton, Colorado that was inspired from a smaller piece he painted on location. “There are times where the location puts me in a state of mind, just by looking at the subject,” he shares, “where I can see the landscape around me in thick, textural, juicy paint.”
Another landscape in the show is Merrell’s Desert Twilight – The Salton Sea, which prominently features a large body of water. “I think we seek out places that reflect ourselves. I feel very much at home in wide-open desert spaces. There is something very contemplative to me about the Salton Sea and I’ve painted it a number of times, but I’ve never seen sunset colors on a body of water like this anywhere else,” Merrell explains. “I have always been drawn to work that expresses a strong sense of the individual artist—artwork that tells us something of their opinion of life, not as an embedded narrative but obliquely, something that they felt deeply, internalized and interpreted.”
Along with paintings, there will be drawings in the show such as Timmons’ pencil drawing Wooly. “I was visiting my friend’s ranch a few years ago and got some great references and sketches of her small herd of sheep,” shares Timmons. “Wooly was the first drawing I’ve done from that day, and it proved to be difficult because I underestimated how hard it would be to draw the wool, but I am pleased with the results. There will definitely be more drawings of that particular subject in the future.”
Crowds gather during the 2017 event in Denver. Photo by Steve Peterson, stevepeterson.photo. Scholarship students at the Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale.
Billyo O’donnell, Above Silverton, Colorado, oil on board, 24 x 30”
Eric Merrell, Desert Twilight – The Salton Sea, oil on canvas, 30 x 30”
Terry Gardner, The Purple Rider, oil on linen, 40 x 40”
Karmel Timmons, Wooly, pencil, 7 x 8”