Visual Arts » 2D

Quest for the West

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Sweeping mountain vistas, huge bronze sculptures of cowboys, charcoal drawings of Native Americans, intricately detailed stone and marble carvings await you as the Eiteljorg prepares for the opening on the largest Western art show east of the Mississippi. Quest for the West, in its eight year this year, brings artists and collectors in from around the world.

Josh Elliott. Hillsong, 2013. Oil. 15 x 30 in.
  • Josh Elliott. Hillsong, 2013. Oil. 15 x 30 in.

This year's Quest includes 182 pieces from 50 artists, along with a separate, retrospective exhibit of the works of John Coleman, winner of last year's Artist of Distinction Award. A native of California, Coleman is one of today's most prominent Western sculptors. Nearly 40 of his works will be on display until November 17.

"These are among the top artists working in Western art today," explains Johanna Blume, Assistant Curator of Western Art, History, and Culture. "We have a wide mix of genres that will appeal to visitors and collectors alike."

Heide Presse. Blackberries, 2013. Oil on linen. 30 x 30 in.
  • Heide Presse. Blackberries, 2013. Oil on linen. 30 x 30 in.

To start with a bang, Quest for the West opens Friday, September 6, with a gala weekend of art, meals, awards, an artists' panel and visits with local collectors. Pre-registration is required, but this is where the serious Western art collectors and enthusiasts will be. The artists will also be on hand to answer questions and discuss their works with visitors.

Having the artists on hand is a unique feature of the Eiteljorg's Quest.

"You can talk to them about their art, their inspiration," Blume says. "That's one of the things that's such a draw for shows like this. The artists are there, and collectors get to know the artists very well. Deep friendships form because of shows like this."

And the Eiteljorg is one of just a handful of museums that feature Western art.

"I would say that there are less than a dozen in the country," says Blume. "Probably half-a-dozen have art shows like this."

"The big three Western art sales shows are the Prix de West at The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, the Masters of the American West at the Autry National Center in Lost Angeles, and the Eiteljorg's Quest for the West," she says. "We're the only show of this kind east of the Mississippi."

Dan Smith. The Suitor, 2013. Acrylic. 24 x 36 in.
  • Dan Smith. The Suitor, 2013. Acrylic. 24 x 36 in.

This will be a beautiful art show, but it is also an art sale. Asked how many pieces the museum will sell this year, Blume laughs.

"Hopefully, all of them," she says. "We've had some robust years, and we're looking forward to another good show."

In 2012, the show brought in 450 guests who purchased $870,000 in art, a portion of which helps the Eiteljorg build its world-class collection.

Logan Maxwell Hagege. The Mesa Comes to Life, 2013. Oil on linen. 30 x 30 in.
  • Logan Maxwell Hagege. The Mesa Comes to Life, 2013. Oil on linen. 30 x 30 in.

"We have a remarkable collection of Western art but also of Native American historical and cultural artifacts, and contemporary Western and Native American fine art," Blume explains. "We're one of the leaders in the field in all of those areas. ... I think it's important to have these kinds of collections outside of the West. Because the West as an idea and as part of our cultural understanding is really significant, and you don't have to live in the West to appreciate that."

The exciting opening weekend is an event not-to-be-missed, but the show will be open to regular visitors to the museum September 7 until October 6.

"What I think is so special about it is that there's all the excitement and all the spectacle of the opening weekend, which is only available to people who register for it, but [the exhibit] is still up for another month, for people to appreciate," says Blume.

With so many cowboys, Native Americans and rugged landscapes, you don't need to go further west than West Street to fulfill your desire for western expansion.

Doug Hyde. From the Valley of the Butterflies, 2013. Utah alabaster. 15 x 24 x 10 in.
  • Doug Hyde. From the Valley of the Butterflies, 2013. Utah alabaster. 15 x 24 x 10 in.

The greatest Western artist will all have work at the Eiteljorg.

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