A painting of a young, dark-haired woman, bundled against the cold in a white woolen Hudson Bay blanket and silhouetted against purple mountains and a pale evening sky, won the Prix de West Purchase Award on Saturday at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
“Silence and Sagebrush,” an oil-on-linen painting by California artist Jeremy Lipking, priced at $64,000, will become part of the museum’s permanent collection.
In addition to the purchase, the Prix de West Award includes a medallion and $5,000 prize.
Announcement of the award-winning artwork and its artist was made during Saturday’s noon luncheon at the museum’s 41st annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale. Traditionally, the announcement is a surprise to art patrons and artists attending the show.
“I was completely surprised when they said my name,” Lipking, 38, said in an interview after the award was announced. “Everybody at my table at lunch was saying ‘You’re going to win,’ but I thought they were just being nice.”
“It’s an honor, but I’m still in shock,” added Lipking, who was accompanied to the art show by Danielle, his wife of 13 years, and the couple’s youngest child, 9-month-old Sierra. The couple’s two older children, Skyler, 9, and Jacob, 10, remained at home in California.
Lipking, who is participating in the show for the third time, said he got the inspiration for his winning painting while on a trip.
“I had an idea to do an Indian maiden painting, a kind of tribute to my grandmother who was full-blooded Chippewa,” the artist explained. “I did a digital sketch of it on my I-phone and then texted my friend Sonya to ask if she’d be the model for it and could we paint the scene from her front yard?
“After that, I just waited for the right time of day, I did some sketches, took a bunch of photos and did the painting in the studio,” he added. Lipking said his painting shows the mountains at sunset in early December near the town of Frazier Park in southern California.
This year’s Prix de West show and sale features 314 artworks by 100 of the nation’s leading Western painters and sculptors. Prices of artworks ranged from a $599 bronze of a blue bird to a $140,000 oil painting of the Grand Canyon.
Museum officials said the value of these artworks exceeds $5.6 million. Last year’s art sales totaled a little over $3 million, a figure museum officials hope to exceed this time around. A portion of the art sales goes to support museum programs and operations.
Later during the evening awards banquet, museum officials said the live auction generated $152,500 and that opening-day art sales tallied $3.25 million.
Other art winners are:
The James Earle Fraser Sculpture Award was presented to Prescott, Ariz., artist John Coleman for his sculpture, “Honeymoon at Crow Fair,” a $165,000 life-sized bronze of two Crow newlyweds on horseback. The Fraser award recognizes artistic merit in sculpture and carries a $3,000 prize.
Coleman’s massive bronze also received the Jackie L. Coles Buyers Choice Award, which carries a $3,000 prize and is chosen by art patrons attending the show’s opening sale.
Idaho artist George Carlson received the Frederic Remington Painting Award for “Ravens of the Palouse,” an oil-on-linen painting, which shows a flock of ravens swooping over a sprawling, undulating expanse of golden wheat fields in an area known as the Palouse, a fertile swath of land that runs across Idaho and Washington state.
Remington award honors exceptional artistic merit in painting and carries a $3,000 prize. Carlson has won the Prix de West Purchase Award twice — for sculpture in 1975 and a painting in 2011.
For the fifth consecutive year, Carlson was named the recipient of the Robert Lougheed Memorial Award, established in 1988 and named for one of the 20th century’s leading Western painters. The award and its $3,000 prizes honors the artist with the best display of three or more works in the show and is chosen by the exhibiting artists.
Carlson was recognized for his three oil-on-linen paintings — “Ravens of the Palouse,” priced at $65,000; “The Tempest,” priced at $60,000, a powerful landscape portrait of two implacable foes —a menacing, cloud-filled storm bearing down on a forbidding, sharp-rocked terrain; and the more peaceful “Reflections,” priced at $55,000, showing a beautiful blue sky and lacy clouds reflected in the placid water of a remote lake.
The Express Ranch Great American Cowboy Award, honoring the best portrayal of cowboy subject matter and carrying a $3,000 prize, was presented to “When the Work’s All Done in the Fall,” by artist Loren Entz of Billings, Mont.
Entz’s $52,000 oil-on-canvas painting shows three ranch horses patiently waiting to be unsaddled and two herding dogs, all relaxing under the golden leaves of several trees on a sunny autumn afternoon.
The Major General and Mrs. Don Pittman Wildlife Art Award was given to sculptor Tim Shinabarger of Billings, Mont., for “The Mountaineers.” The $18,500 bronze shows three bighorn sheep perched on a rocky precipice.
The Donald Teague Memorial Award for an exceptional artwork on paper, was given to artist Carrie Ballantyne of Sheridan, Wyo., for “Trust.” Ballantyne’s 21-inch by 16-inch conte portrait, priced at $9,500, shows a working cowboy’s casual, one-armed embrace of his favorite horse.
All the art in the show will remain on view at the museum, 1700 NE 63, through Aug. 3. Any unsold works will be available for purchase until then.