The buffalo-head bolo that many of the 1,000 art lovers attending this year's Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale will wear around their necks was originally created to be a huge architectural piece.
“Bison Medallion,” a miniature bronze portrait of a buffalo designed by Missouri sculptor Tim Cherry, will function as the “ticket” for those attending all the opening-weekend activities for the 39th annual art show, which begins Friday at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
Cherry designed “Bison Columns,” two larger-than-life versions of his iconic buffalo head, to flank the main terminal entrance to the recently renovated Jackson Hole, Wyo., Airport. Each sculpture weighs more than 1,200 pounds. The artist has described the design as “an exercise in circles.”
“When they asked me to design this year's Prix de West medallion, I was thrilled and thought immediately of that Bison design in Jackson Hole. The original clay study for it started out quite small, so it's kind of been a design-in-waiting for the medallion,” Cherry said during a recent telephone interview from his home in Branson, Mo.
“Buffalo have been done to death, sculpturally, but not too many buffalo as portrait pieces,” the artist added. “I think people will be surprised at all the detail in the medallion that's not visible in photos.”
Last year some 1,200 art lovers attended Prix de West opening-weekend events and more than $3.3 million in art changed hands.
This year's art show and sale will feature 351 items of art from some of the nation's leading contemporary Western painters and sculptors. Total value of the art on display is $5,723,235, with prices ranging from an $85,000 oil painting down to an $850 sculpture.
Cherry will have four sculptures in the show. “Flat Fish,” done in mirror-polish stainless steel and priced at $8,200, was inspired by the annual Florida fishing trip the artist takes with friends each year. “I've always wanted to do a fish in stainless steel, to kind of replicate that flash you sometimes see in the water when you're fishing,” the artist said.
“Wise Guy,” a larger, pedestaled version of Cherry's bronze sculpture that was so popular with show-goers last year, is priced at $13,900 and stands nearly 6 feet tall. The artwork's pedestal was designed and handmade by a Colorado furniture-builder and design friend of Cherry's. “It's pretty spectacular,” the sculptor said. “It has a lot of presence.”