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.