David and Art - "More New Images of the West"

Sep 23, 2019

Once a year a small town in Central Texas turns into a capital of Western Art, and it's something worth seeing. 

The back to school season is always one of anticipation.  The annual academic ritual, whether at grade school or grad school, has a superficial element of seeming to be the same each time it comes around, but in reality it’s always a fresh experience. It’s one of those events in which genuine repetition is far less than we assume. We may mark our calendars by it and realize with increasing amazement as we get older that here it is again, but in reality such beginnings are never stale.

Annual art exhibits are a little like that because even though they appear on the calendar each year at about the same time, and may have the same general theme, what’s in them is always new.  September brings one of the best art shows anywhere in the state to central Texas. The Bosque Art Classic, held each year in Clifton and now in its 34thyear, is on view through the end of this week.

Despite Clifton’s size this show is one of the most vibrant Western art contests in the nation and brings together the works of artists from all over the country. This year they had over 800 entries from which they picked 262 pieces—the most ever—to be in the annual exhibit.  Each year it awards thousands of dollars in prizes.

If you’re a fan of western art, or if you’re curious as to the different permutations it can have, the Bosque Art Classic is something you should see. The works are mostly traditional Western—by which I mean they’re representational; there’s not a lot of abstraction.  It’s Western art that’s in line with what most people think of when they hear the phrase.

The talent on display this year in the galleries at the Bosque Art Center is considerable—many of the works are stellar.  For instance, almost every year the exhibit features some of the most breathtaking drawings in charcoal that I’ve ever seen, and this year is no exception. 

I said earlier that fresh beginnings are never stale, but in what sense is an annual art show a beginning? It’s a beginning because you’ll see new things that you’ve never seen before. We all carry around images in our head from our past that provide visual clues to understanding other things we see. 

Imagine your favorite painting. Whether we realize it or not, most of us evaluate art that we see in relation to the art we carry around in our heads. “That’s not as pretty as Monet’s ‘Water Lillies,’ ” we might think. Or, “I understand this abstract painting more than the one I saw in Dallas a few months ago.”

Once I get to see a new work, the image of it is mine forever, and from now on it helps me understand other things that I see in a new way.  That’s how the art you’ll see in this show represents a new beginning.

The paintings of the Bosque Art Classic are on view through September 28, and there’s no charge to walk through the galleries and take it all in.  If you’re a fan of Western art, if you’re a fan of the visual arts in central Texas, this is something that you shouldn’t miss.