Excitement is in the air at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum as we prepare for the 50th annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition & Sale, opening June 2, 2022.
Prix de West brings artists and patrons together to showcase the American West through the work of today’s finest contemporary Western artists. In celebration of the 50th Prix de West, we will be spotlighting artists, discovering paintings currently resting in the Museum vault and sharing the history of this long-running art exhibition & sale.
To kick off our artist spotlight series is Gerald Balciar, a sculptor from Parker, Colorado, and long-time, award-winning Prix de West artist. Balciar has participated in Prix de West for 39 years, won the Prix de West Purchase Award in 1985, the Nona Jean Hulsey Buyers’ Choice Award in 1990 and the James Earle Fraser Sculpture Award in 2007. Balciar will also design this year’s commemorative bolo, the fourth one he has designed during his time as a Prix de West artist.
According to Balciar, Prix de West can be described as the “Grand Daddy of Western Art Shows.” For his 40th year participating in Prix de West, he plans to bring several sculptures that are inspired by the animals and scenery in the American West.
His pieces include a squirrel with oak leaves, house wren, blue jays and maple tree leaves, a young rabbit, and a pair of screech owls. Two of his pieces will include autumn leaves inspired by last year’s colorful season
“I do Western Art because that is where I live, that is what I am familiar with and what I appreciate the most,” Balciar said. “To me, Western Art is depictions of the Western United States, be it scenery, way of life, animals, or anything in nature.
“My artistic process usually starts with an idea that I will write down, or a scribbling that I will do in pencil or felt tip markers that I will put away until I need them for a new piece,” he continued. “Often, I will do a small, quick study (30 minutes) in clay and put it away.
“I come up with most of my ideas when I am supposed to be working on a deadline.”
Balciar’s largest marble sculpture stands in the West hallway of The Cowboy. The 18-foot tall, 16,000-pound marble cougar, titled Canyon Princess, was installed in 1995.
Prix de West will be on exhibit from June 2 through August 7, with the Art Sale Weekend June 17-18. To learn more about Prix de West or purchase tickets to the event, visit nationalcowboymuseum.org/prix-de-west.