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Museum features contemporary Western art show and sale

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ In the shadow of the oversize ``End of the Trail'' statue of an American Indian on horseback, the works of 99 artists are on display in the 32nd annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Lynda Haller, a spokeswoman for the museum, said the 310 pieces of art, valued at more than $4 million, comprise one of the largest contemporary Western art shows ever. The pieces qualified for the show after a screening process more than a year ago.

Each piece in the show is for sale. They will remain on display until Sept. 11, 2005.

Oils, acrylics, watercolors and graphic pencil along with bronze, marble and Texas sandstone sculptures depict each artist's vision of the West.

``Western art is much more than cowboys and Indians. Works range from historical pieces that reflect the early days of the West to more contemporary and impressionist works of Western art,'' Haller said.

Landscapes, wildlife, paintings of ships that brought pioneers to the West as well as illustrative scenes of the West of years ago or contemporary scenes of the West today are all part of the Prix de West Invitational.

For 18 years, Ron Riddick, who paints under the name R.S. Riddick, has been selected for the Prix de West. He has missed only one show since 1986 and mentors new artists by teaching seminars at the museums.

It is a time of nurturing those who want to preserve the artistic culture of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, he said.

``Art is creating what your passion is,'' Riddick said. ``I grew up with a love for the West ... and this is worthy for artistic response.''

His Prix de West exhibit this year is a museum quality piece titled ``Lakota Warrior's Farewell.'' The painting was named as the most popular work of art as chosen by those who attended the opening weekend.

Shawn Cameron has exhibited her work at the Prix de West for three years but she was a student in Riddick's seminar this year.

``My strength is painting what I know,'' said Cameron. And what she knows is life on a ranch in Paulden, Ariz.

Her husband riding a horse down into a gully is one of three of her paintings in the exhibit this year.

She said that because she was a ranch wife raising two daughters and a son, she spent most of her time practicing her sketching skills in her laundry room. The last 12 years she has been able to devote full time to her art work, attending seminars and working with other artists in perfecting her skills.

``So much of it is mental preparation, finding a story and a theme. Sitting down to paint comes last.'' Cameron said.

Looming over the exhibit hall is a 7-foot-3 inch high by 4-foot wide bronze of a Native American chief. First-year exhibitor, John Coleman's entry titled ``Addih-Hiddisch, Hidatsh Chief'' carries a price tag of $52,000.

Coleman's bronze representation of a portrait painted in 1833 by Karl Bodmer, accurately recreates the juxtaposed pairing of an European top hat with the more traditional buckskin clothing of a Native American _ carrying a tomahawk with a scalp lock in his hand and a peace medal draped around his neck.

An illustrative scene of American Indians titled ``Two Coups'' by Martin Grelle won the top award of the show _ the Prix de West Purchase Award, The museum will purchase this artwork to add to its collection of contemporary Western art.

Also winning awards in the show were painter Curt Walters, sculpture Tim Shinabarger, artist Robert ``Shoofly'' Shufelt, painter Christopher Blossom and painter Dave Wade.
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