Small Works, Great Wonders Art Sale lures art buyers to National Cowboy Museum

The one-night sale will showcase some 200 paintings and sculptures from 111 top-tier Western artists.
BY KAREN KLINKA Published: November 9, 2012
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Winter in the American West will be the subject of more than a few artworks on display at the upcoming Small Works, Great Wonders Winter Art Sale at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

The seventh annual event will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 16 at the museum, 1700 NE 63. The one-night sale will showcase some 200 paintings and sculptures from 111 top-tier Western artists, including many who participate in the museum's Prix de West Invitational art show each June. This year's Small Works roster includes 28 new artists.

Tucson, Ariz., painter Phil Starke is one of the first-timers included in the show. Although this Starke's first outing at the museum, he's hardly an artistic novice. After graduation from the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 1982, Starke worked odd jobs in construction until sales of his paintings enabled him to become a full-time artist in 1986.

Since then his paintings have won awards at dozens of art shows and been featured in “American Artist Magazine,” “Southwest Art” and “Art of the West.”

Starke is represented locally by the Grapevine Gallery, 1933 NW 39.

During a recent telephone interview from his Tucson studio, Starke said he was delighted to be invited to participate in this year's show.

“Anytime you can get to do anything at the National Cowboy Museum, you know you're in great shape,” he said.

Starke said “Night Solitude,” his 11-by-14-inch oil painting, priced at $2,100, shows longhorn cattle bedded down for the night in a pasture near Mount Carmel in southern Utah. “Just like Arizona, anytime you get a full moon in Utah, you get a lot of really nice colorations that come out only at night,” he said.

“End of the Day, Colorado,” a 16-by-20-inch oil, priced at $3,500, shows two cowboys on horseback shooting the breeze, surrounded by grazing cattle and a breathtaking view of the Rockies. Starke said the painting was done in his studio and is an enlarged version of a small color study he did on a Colorado painting trip.

“I do a lot of plein-air studies, and I'm not even sure whether the cowboys or the cattle were in the original scene for this painting.” Starke said. “I especially like the look of a landscape in the evening when the light is low and there's a lot of contrast and different color values.”

Returning artist Linda Tuma Robertson of Edmond won the Buyers Choice Award at the first Small Works, Great Wonders show in 2006. This year, Robertson's two landscape oils will each feature a relatively rare subject — an Oklahoma snow scene.

Both paintings were inspired by the February 2011 snowstorm that blanketed Oklahoma and the Southwest and brought most regional travel to a halt for a week. The award-winning artist's paintings are exhibited locally year-round at the Howell Gallery, 6432 N Western.

“We were trying to drive to an art gallery show in Tucson and got stranded in Ardmore,” recalled Robertson, a lifelong Oklahoman and a mostly self-taught artist. “I thought, well, if I can't get to Arizona, at least I can take a lot of Oklahoma snow pictures.”

Robertson said her 14-by14-inch oil, “Ripples and Shadows,” priced at $2,200, depicts a scene from the Chickasaw National Recreation Area from her trip home from Ardmore.

“Winter Illumination,” a 20-by-16-inch oil, priced at $2,950, shows a stretch of river north of Guthrie where Skeleton Creek flows into the Cimarron River. “It's a really beautiful area with its red cliffs, pretty trees and curving banks and sandbars,” the painter said.

“I was so excited when the museum said they wanted some of the art for the Small Works show to feature a winter theme,” Robertson added. “I thought, I've got the pictures!”

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