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'Small Works, Great Wonders' sale explores winter, Western art of Oklahoma artists

“Small Works, Great Wonders Winter Art Sale” will be Friday at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
By Karen Klinka Published: November 10, 2013

Artist Kenny McKenna chose a massive view of the Grand Canyon as his subject, while painter Kelli Folsom explored the effects of color and light on a “little, old brown whiskey jug.”

Both Oklahoma City artists are returning for a third year to exhibit their paintings at the “Small Works, Great Wonders Winter Art Sale” at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

The eighth annual event will be held Friday and will showcase some 225 paintings and sculptures from 124 Western artists, including many who participate in the museum's Prix de West Invitational art show each June. This year's Small Works roster also includes 20 new artists.

There are artworks showing the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Madres, the Grand Canyon and various other Western vistas.

Painted and sculpted images show Indians dancing, riding horses, selling trinkets to tourists or bundled against the cold; and cowboys on horseback, herding cows, escaping attack, crossing rivers or looking for water.

Wildlife of all kinds enliven paintings and sculpture — from amorous polar bears and a willow-munching moose to an “un-pickled” herring and several rabbits.

Many of the artworks on sale portray winter in the American West, but not all, and the variety of styles is wide — ranging from three-dimensional sculptures, mixed media and Indian ledger-like images to impressionism, representational realism, abstract and minimalism.

Museum officials have said the goal of the Small Works event is to showcase smaller-sized and lower-priced works of art, and the show's preholiday timing is designed to expand the audience for Western art. Buyers can leave with their art purchases at the conclusion of the event.

Reducing it down

The stoic dignity of an old red barn is the subject of the smaller of McKenna's two oil paintings in the Small Works show. “Baby, It's Cold Outside,” a 15-by-20-inch oil priced at $3,500, shows cattle huddled near an old barn on a cold winter day.

McKenna said he first saw the barn depicted in his painting while traveling on a back road between Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Sugar City, Idaho.

“I've always loved painting barns, especially the old ones,” added McKenna, a full-time artist since 1987. “Old barns are getting harder and harder to find because they're getting torn down and replaced with metal buildings.”

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