A Classic Celebration of Art

Inspiring artistic display: Bosque Arts Center hosts 38th annual Bosque Art Classic exhibit and sale; awards presented at dinner Saturday

CLIFTON – Swooping landscapes, serene portraits, ranching life scenes and homages to the western lifestyle, from one room to the next visitors to the 38th Annual Bosque Art Classic at the Bosque Arts Center marveled at the stunning and diverse art on display. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it seemed that this year, every piece of artwork in the show was special, showing the artists’ excellence.

“With talented artists, the Bosque Art Classic runs on the energy of volunteers and the generosity of patrons,” BAC Art Council President Virginia Richards said. “Without either, the event celebrating representational art would not be what it is today.”

In the 38 years since its inception, the Bosque Art Classic has grown into a nationally-recognized art show and sale that is synonymous with outstanding representational original art—especially western art. Thanks to the never-abating enthusiasm and dedication of the Bosque Arts Center Art Council, this year’s exceptional show once again spotlights many returning artists and as many newcomers offering priceless recognition with art patrons and fellow artists.

It opened Saturday Sept. 9 with a dinner and awards ceremony with attendees filling the Tin Building Theatre to the brim. And this year’s show and sale features 200 works in the different categories sculpture, pastel, water media and oils/acrylics, with some of the 125 artists entering the show having several pieces on display.

The diverse show offers spectacular art work showing many different styles, with evocative titles like “Soaking up the Sun,” “Wherever I May Roam,” “Lucky at Love, Unlucky at Cards,” and “She Dreams of Wild Horses.” Being a Western inspired show, subject matter runs from the magnificence of God’s creatures in their natural habitat, the radiance of an American Indian warrior, the sun setting on a weary cowboy and his steed after a long day in majestic landscapes.

This year, Patrick Saunders won the prestigious $5000 John Steven Jones Purchase Award sponsored by Roland and Joyce Jones with his work in oil painting “Icon” – a tan and white-clad cowboy on a Palomino. The no frills or distractions, subdued grey-mottled background brings the cowboy icon and his steed front and center, where they shine in all their glory.

Last year, Saunders was recognized for his talent when he received the Art Patrons Award and Silver in Oil/Acrylic for his celebration of the Hispanic Dia de Los Muertos holiday with his “Dama de Rojo.”

“The Jones family are such strong supporters of the arts,” Saunders said. “They certainly know what they are looking for, and I appreciate that they recognized the work.”

“My approach is to free myself from preconceived visual beliefs and interpret the world directly before me,” Saunders shares on his website. “In so doing, I rediscover the colors, textures and values of everyday life that we otherwise take for granted. This is what drives me to paint and what I encourage in my students. My art is the product of diligence in practice. I do not believe in talent. I believe that all of us have the potential to create art, if we choose to dedicate ourselves to the pursuit."

This freeing of preconceived ideas is mirrored in the name of his workshops “Painting without Borders.” Saunders is a master at capturing the character of the livestock and their cowhands and the light on his delicate florals and with loose, impressionist-style strokes – “until the brushstrokes suddenly transcend paint and become flowers,” Saunders explains. “There's not much that can match the beauty of a backlit rose. It's more than that bright rim of light on the edges, but also the intensity of color as the sun shines through the transparent petals.”

After a career as commercial illustrator in advertising and teaching art, Saunders took up plein air painting in 2013, sold their Kansas City home and traveled the country with his photographer wife Kimberly in their Airstream. The traveling was all about the journey, not the destination. In his art, Saunders says it’s not about the artwork itself, but the creation of it. After traversing the country for several years, the couple settled in their new home, San Antonio in 2022. 

Newcomer to the show Crystal Orlando from Moody received the $1000 Art Patrons Purchase Award sponsored by the BAC Art Council with her buffalo head in Charcoal and Graphite on canvas. Orlando also won the Gold Medal and $1000 in the Drawing category.

Besides winning the awards, she was thrilled to see a red dot on the card next to her art work, indicating they were sold. What better recognition though than to know her work will adorn the BAC Roland Jones Gallery and her “Little Longhorn 6” will hang on someone’s wall from now on.

Silver Medal in the category Drawing went to Patsy Lindamood for her “Soaring Above Justice.”

The Roland Jones Memorial Gallery houses the permanent collection of the Bosque Arts Center – a gathering of beautiful representational artwork from the past decades. Nationally renowned artists as well as artists coming into their own are represented in the collection, which grows each year with purchases of the John Steven Jones and Art Patrons Choice Awards winners from the Bosque Art Classic show and sale.

Another special award in the show is the $1000 Boren-Selvidge Award sponsored by the family of one of the Bosque Seven artists, James Boren. The award went to “She Dreams of Wild Horses,” by David Dorsey.

“When finding a candidate for the award, we try to think of things that would appeal to my dad,” daughter Nancy Boren said explaining the family’s choice. “Without knowing the title, the artist told the story really beautifully. The contrast of the background with the subject made you think ‘Are the horses real? Or are they in her imagination.’ Also, she definitely looks like a person from the West, which my dad would like, even though her hat is not a typical cowboy hat, but a flat-crowned one.

“The work was just striking, even from a distance. I also look at the quality, the composition and good use of color in a piece. Dorsey’s use of the sunlight is especially convincing and beautiful, and the round composition was a bold choice that worked well.”

Lee Alban received the other special recognition with the $ 1000 New Entrant Award, sponsored by Jimmie and Karen Hughes. He took viewers back to shady Wild West Saloon days with his “Lucky at Love, Unlucky at Cards.”

The Gold Medal in Oil/Acrylic went to Lori Lamb’s “Soaking Up the Sun,” earning her $1000. The Silver Medal in that category went to “The Crossing,” by Robert Rohm.

Besides the serene “Soaking Up the Sun” with its off-center placement of a young lady on shades of jade background, another less traditional piece caught Richard’s personal fancy. Playing with broad strokes Lon Brauer’s “Mirage” made a viewer stop and admire how something nearly abstract painting still clearly conveyed three cowhands on horseback in shades of steel grey contrasted against a blood orange and ruby sunset.

“Rope Trick” by Michael Archer received the Gold Medal in Water Media and the Silver Medal went to “Father and Son” by Richie Vios.

Gold Medal in Pastel went to “Brings Plenty” by Matt Atkinson and Silver went to “Hold Still A Minute” by Kathy LeJeune. Both these pieces stole BAC Art Patron’s heart – one, because she loves Atkinson’s work and wanted to add to her expanding collection. And the other, purely because of the detail the artist showed in capturing this moment in time of ranching life.

A retired custom cabinet maker, now making anything from “cradles to caskets,” Hillsboro’s woodworker Ronnie Zint worked with wood since he was two-years old when his mother gave him a saw and screwdriver. He now carves wildfowl art, and wishes he had taken up his artwork sooner. His exquisite “Predator and Prey,” wood carving of an oil-painted owl in flight balanced over two yuccas, formed from brass plants with wooden berries won Gold Medal in Sculpture.

“God gives us the talent, and we have to put in the labor. It’s our job to make it work.” Zint said. “Just to be accepted into this show is such an honor, but to receive a ribbon and sell my piece? I couldn’t ask for more,”

Gary Ward won Silver with his “Return of the Prodigals” bronze.

Richards also pointed out two works from 21-year-old Louisiana’s Samuel Vidrine -- one of the youngest artists to be selected to the Art Classic. His work is on the other side of the loose versus precise spectrum. Vidrine started drawing as an outlet for the stresses of school he felt because of his severe dyslexia.

Since the start of this year, he started experimenting with using micron ink pen dots instead of lines to build his astounding ink drawings – the higher the concentration of dots, the darker the value. Vidrine’s pointillism work especially needs to be seen up close and personal, as a photograph loses all the delicate detail of his skill.

The over 700 initial entries were discussed and weighed on significance and quality by this year’s judge Seth Hopkins and the Bosque Art Council. Having an esteemed judge like Hopkins validates the importance of the BAC Art Classic for the entrants and the buyers.

Executive director of the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA, Hopkins guided the museum’s growth to becoming the largest permanent exhibition space for Western art in the country. It was named the Number One Art Museum in America in the USA Today Readers Choice Awards for three years in a row, from 2020 to 2022. Having curated or co-curated almost 100 exhibitions, Southwestern Art magazine listed Hopkins on their list of ten prominent people “making noteworthy contributions to the art world.”

Newcomers to the BAC Art Classic Jim Miller and Robert Wesson commented on the fact that the Art Classic shows so much appreciation to the exhibiting artists and that they offer recognition to lesser established artists like themselves. The two happened to meet at the 2021 Martin Grelle/Bruce Greene plein air workshop.

“For me this is a huge show,” Miller said. “Hearing the name of this year’s judge kind of made me nervous though. But this show is more welcoming for upcoming artists and to be displayed on the same wall with these well-known artists is a huge honor.”

According to his website, Miller wants to bring back the emotions, sharing his love of the wild western things he felt as a kid. His hope is that his work inspires others to get outside as often as possible and admire all of God’s amazing creations. He longs for others to let nature tug at their heart strings and feel a connection to the great outdoors.

When sitting on his porch with his morning coffee, the light hit just right on a bull calf nursing under extended branches with delicate spring buds. Miller rushed to capture this sweet moment, and conveyed his feelings onto the canvas with his “Breakfast with Momma.”

Wesson’s inspiration for “Texas Morning” portrays another morning moment, one Central Texas residents surely recognize – an egret alongside a grazing Bay, the Live Oak shadows extending across the yellowing pasture. The horse in his entered painting started off as a drawing in October 2021.

All these wonderful and awe-inspiring pieces can be seen free to the public from Sept. 10-23 during regular BAC opening hours. Or you can view the art work online on the BAC website. After this opening weekend sale, remaining pieces can be purchased online through Sept. 23.


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