“Art is arguably the museum's single most important asset and is a great way to attract people to the museum and encourage them to become members,” Hoffman said recently via telephone. “The Small Works show supports the creation of art of the West by both established and emerging artists. These artists' representations, or interpretations, of the American West is just as important today as in the past.”
Museum President Chuck Schroeder said when most people think about purchasing Western art, they think they have to go to Santa Fe, N.M.; Taos, N.M., or Sedona, Ariz. But in the past few years, more than a few savvy art buyers have been checking out when the Oklahoma City museum will hold one of its three annual art events — the prestigious Prix de West Invitational each June, the Cowboy Crossings show in early fall, which features one-of-a-kind works by the Cowboy Artists of America and the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association, and the Small Works, Great Wonders show in November.
The three shows have meant great business for the museum and the participating artists. Art sales for the recent Cowboy Crossings show totaled $1.2 million, more than $3.25 million in art changed hands at the Prix de West in June and last year's Small Works event generated $343,000.
“The Small Works, Great Wonders show began as a response to many of our patrons who love the top quality Western art they get to see each year at the Prix de West, but have neither the space nor discretionary resources to purchase the larger scale works in that show,” Schroeder said. “We asked those renowned artists to do some smaller pieces in a more modest price range that would allow perhaps younger, newer collectors to purchase art for their homes, confident that they were still investing in superb quality.”
Schroeder said the November show quickly became popular. Its preholiday timing seeks to encourage gift-buying and to introduce a broader audience for Western art, including beginning collectors. Another plus is that attendees can leave with their purchased art that night. In addition, Schroeder and museum officials soon realized the Small Works show represented an opportunity to serve the larger Western-themed art community. “Virtually everyone associated with this popular genre asked, ‘Where do we find and encourage the next generation of exquisitely talented artists focusing on Western subject matter?'” Schroeder said. “The answer is here.”
The show's catalog is available for viewing online at the museum's website. Unsold works from the show will hang at the museum through Jan. 6 and will be available for purchase.
Local caterers providing the evening's refreshments are Dining on Persimmon Hill, the Petroleum Club of Oklahoma City, Running Wild Catering, Bravo! Cucina Italiana, the Melting Pot and On the Border.
Tickets to the event cost $60 for museum members and $75 for nonmembers. Online reservations can be made at nationalcowboymuseum.org. or by calling 478-2250, Ext. 219.
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