Yee-haw! While galleries across the country have had a tough time in recent years, the Coors Western Art Show at the National Western Stock Show Complex got off to a fast gallop last week, selling more than $800,000 worth of art at the Red Carpet Reception three days before the show officially opened on Saturday on the top floor of the Hall of Education at the Stock Show. "All in all, it was a big success," says curator Rose Fredrick. "It was a record-breaking opening night for both crowds and sales. Opening-night sales beat the best-ever total sales."See also: - People of the 2013 Stock Show Parade - Faces of the 2012 Stock Show Parade - Michael Hancock bet-losing Ray Lewis dance postponed by Stock Show injury?
Part of the success can be attributed to the way Fredrick hung the work: Rather than put all of the pieces in the silent action outside the gallery, she devoted a specific area to the work of each artist - and there are dozens - and spread them throughout both the gallery and the main space outside. "My hope was that people would start bidding on the silent auction pieces but see the other pieces as well," she says, "and this combination of seeing all the work together had the excitement running throughout the whole space." It also meant that would-be bidders who'd already seen the price of silent-auction items go too high could buy one of the artist's other pieces.
Despite the fact that the show started so strong, there's "still lots of good stuff for sale," Fredrick notes. And good stuff to simply see. Just about everything but the seventy silent-auction pieces, which went home with the winning bidders, will be on display in the rehung gallery through Sunday, January 27, when the Coors show ends with the Stock Show. "What I've tried to do with the show -- and this is keeping in step with Western art -- is keeping it more contemporary," Fredrick explains.
Not only are all the artists featured in the show living, "but we try to keep a contemporary eye on what is going on," she says. "A lot of the artists we work with aren't into sugarcoating the West. I just want a really broad brush. Our audience really responds to that."
And so while there are traditional landscapes, there are also landscapes dotted with beer bottles and horse manure. While some landscapes depict traditional, romanticized settings, Terry Gardner paints old drive-in movie signs, and Don Stinson adds power lines and other manmade features to his scenes.
"There's room for all of it," Fredrick concludes, pointing out that while some Western art shows "are so traditional they can't stand to have anything new, the Coors show proves there's room for a big, big conversation about what is Western art."
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And the conversation will continue for another ten days. Find more information at www.nationalwestern.com/coors-western-art/.