Classically Beautiful

35th Annual Bosque Art Classic, synonymous with outstanding original representational art, offers different format this year due to COVID-19 concerns

CLIFTON – Every step takes you to a whole different world; every step teleports you to a different place. Exquisite places with big skies and endless plains or a garden scented by delicate blooms; unfamiliar worlds in gilded frames. As you wander through the gallery, each painting, each sculpture grabs the imagination and transports you to another world.

The Roland Jones Memorial Gallery houses the permanent collection of the Bosque Arts Center. A gathering of beautiful representational artwork from the past decades, the gallery alone is definitely worth a trip to Clifton. Nationally renowned artists as well as artists coming into their own are represented in the collection.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic with restrictions on gathering and public health concerns, art patrons miss the chance to view the Bosque Arts Center Art Classic exhibit in person. They can view the award-selected art on line at www.bosqueartscenter.org/Gallery.aspx

And even amidst the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the stunning collection will grow once again this year with purchases from the 35th Annual Bosque Art Classic show and sale. After much deliberation the Bosque Arts Center Art Council arrived at the decision to make this year’s Classic a strictly online show and sale due to COVID-19 concerns.

The BAC has hosted the annual art show since its founder, Joan Spieler launched the show and sale in 1986.Over the years, the annual juried and judged art show and sale has grown and thrived thanks to the dedication of its art patrons supporting the work of talented artists. And thanks to the never-abating enthusiasm and dedication of the BAC Art Council.

Currently in its 35th year, the national show that has become synonymous with outstanding original art—especially western art — is open to all artists who create realistic and representational art. Although the BAC Art Council regrets they cannot host the traditional reception with the artists and festive awards ceremony this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and concerns, they sincerely hope patrons will join them on the BAC Facebook page to celebrate the artists and view or purchase the outstanding art in this year’s “Classic.”

With all pieces currently viewable as usual on the Bosque Arts Center website, an online awards presentation will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12. Online sales will open 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 14, following an opening weekend pre-sale for Bosque Arts Center Art Patrons. The sale closes at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept.26.

A link to the online sale site will be available in early September. Art lovers may view multiple images of sculptures as well as images of framed paintings on the sale site. Of course, nothing beats seeing art in person. But the Art Council is counting on that the quality, outstanding art will jump off the screen at the viewer, take their breath away, trigger an emotion or a memory, leading to a must-have, coveted purchase.

Summer is the time of waiting for the artists that entered their digital files in contest by the end of May. There were 739 entries submitted to the 2020 Art Classic. Like in previous years, these images are reviewed by the judge and an Art Council jury panel; de judge has the expert eye for catching true art and skill, the panel adds another level of emotional connection to the different pieces presented. Combined they selected a bumper crop of 202 pieces of outstanding art by artists from across the nation for the 2020 Show and Sale. By mid-July the artists knew whether their artwork was selected for the final judging.

“Judging a painting is like dating,” Bosque Art Council’s Joyce Jones said at a recent Art Classic awards ceremony, who Spieler had roped since the BAC’s inception. “You know in the first moment if it’s any good. It has to speak to you. It has to evoke memories that make you feel warm inside.”

Up to and including the digital selection, the process of planning and organizing the Bosque Arts Classic was the same as previous years for the Art Council and Debra Evans. Evans is the indispensible woman behind the scene, getting the invites out, promoting the show, organizing the jury process, being the first contact with the artists.

This year’s judge is Cowboy Artist of America and nationally renowned, multi-media artist Bruce Greene. During the novel on-line Facebook awards ceremony Greene will offer his comments regarding his selection process, explaining to the audience why he felt certain pieces were deserving of an award.

Judges in the past five years are all members of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America. They include Martin Grelle, Jason Scull, Teal Blake, Jason Rich, and Oreland C. Joe Sr.

Normally, the physical artwork is shipped to the BAC to be exhibited at the Ronald Jones Gallery, with Art Council members helping unpack and hang the valuable pieces. But this year, the digital image of the artwork is all Greene and the prospective buyers can rely on. That is a challenge for the artists – making sure they are sending images that shows their art in the best possible light -, the judge – he has to trust the images truly represent the originals, and the prospective buyers – an image on a screen is not the same as seeing art in person. Sculpture artists are required to send in views of the piece from different angles.

Art Patrons will most unfortunately miss the opportunity the festive Friday evening reception prior to the Awards ceremony offers. The reception is an informal way for art patrons to meet the artists, finding out their inspiration for the selected piece, getting to know them better. And artists will miss the opportunity to talk to their fans and speaking with fellow artists.

One thing is a constant though, art patrons from across the nation are sure to see an interesting array of paintings and sculptures - art that will withstand the test of time, that will captivate and thrill, and transport the viewer to a different world, a different place; a place of sweeping landscapes, exquisite detail, and vibrant colors so real they can nearly smell the flower perfume in the air or the dust kicked up by the horses on the trail.

In addition to receiving the acclaim of art patrons and fellow artists, winning a coveted award at the Bosque Art Classic also comes with cash; over $15,500 in prizes is awarded. And additionally, winning an award increases the chances of the art being sold right after the awards.

“We want to present a show the BAC can be proud of, but more importantly a show for those who entered it to be proud to have been in,” Jones said. She and her husband Roland provide the coveted John Stevens Jones Purchase award in memory of their son. It is the most prestigious award of the show.

Winners of the John Steven Jones Award and the $1,000 Art Patrons Purchase Award are also awarded a place in the BAC’s permanent collection, adding to the already impressive Roland Jones gallery.

The first and second places in each category are awarded in each medium, with prizes of $1,000 and $500, respectively. Categories include: Drawing, Oil/Acrylic, Pastel, Sculpture, and Water Media. There is also a $1,000 New Entrant Award.

The Boren-Selvidge Award ($1,000), sponsored by the family of the late James Boren, CA and one of the “Bosque Seven. “ Named for the artist and his wife, Mary Ellen (née Selvidge), the Boren-Selvidge Award in the amount of $1,000 will be given in addition to any other awards that an artist may receive. “We pick something in the spirit of the West, he [James Boren] tried to portray,” Boren said.

Past winners of the John Steven Jones Purchase Award include Cheryl Harley-Volz, Kathy Tate, Herman Walker, Randy Meador, Matt Atkinson, Jim House, Mikel Donahue, William Schneider, Jeff Segler, Don Weller, Romel de la Torre and Xiang Zhang.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced a new and novel format of a beloved and prestigious art show and sale, but the BAC’s Art Council is determined to keep promoting new and upcoming artists as well as already established artists of realistic and representational art. A silver lining to the challenging situation the world finds itself in at the moment due to the pandemic is that the internet show might just increase the art’s reach beyond their expectations and far beyond Bosque County borders.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2020 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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