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Western art: CFD Art Show and Sale returns

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Cheyenne – In its 33rd year, the Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) Western Art Show and Sale has once again held another event to raise funds for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. 

“We started the art show in 1981 as a fundraiser for the museum,” says April Jones, a member of the art show committee. “There were six people who started the committee, and we didn’t think we’d make any money that year.”

After a $13 profit in their first year, Jones notes, “It just took off.”

In their first 32 years, the Western Art Show and Sale has raised over $2 million for the CFD Old West Museum.

Varied artists

A wide selection of artists are hand-picked to showcase their work at the event.

“Converging on the CFD Old West Museum like cowboys to the rodeo arena, the artists celebrate the West’s frontier past, its culture, its magnificent scenery and the western way of life through their impressive works of art,” reads the museum’s website.

Jones works specifically with the artists for the event and says, “We travel a lot in selecting our artists.”

For the first show, the committee contacted the Cowboy Artists of America organization and visited many shows to talk to western artists.

“We knew a lot of the artists personally,” says Jones of committee members, “and that group helped to get us started.”

Their first show featured work from 30 artists. The 2013 show incorporates work from nearly 60 artists, though Jones notes that as many as 67 artists have been invited to participate in the event.

“Growing in popularity every year, the CFD Western Art Show and Sale attracts artists from Nebraska to California and Montana to Arizona who all share the same passion – a love for the great American West and its heritage,” says the CFD Old West Museum website.

Unusual format

Rather than a typical art auction, the CFD Western Art Show and Sale aims to raise funds without undervaluing the artwork. 

Prices are listed on each piece, and anyone interested in purchasing the work puts their name in a bucket to be drawn.

“We draw for our winners. The first name drawn has first choice of whether they want the piece or not. They have 15 minutes to decide whether they want it,” explains Jones. “If the first turns it down or doesn’t respond in the 15 minutes, it goes to the second name drawn.”

This year

The CFD Western Art Show and Sale was held on July 18 this year and boasted 272 pieces of artwork for sale. 

“We have everything from bronze sculptures, oil paintings, acrylic paintings, watercolors, alabaster, Navajo weavings and wood carvings,” Jones notes. “We have good variety in our pieces.”

Twelve artists in the 2013 show call Wyoming their home, including Steven Devenyns of Cody, D. Michael Thomas of Buffalo, Bruce Graham of Buffalo, Curt Theobald of Pine Bluffs, Laurie Lee of Powell, Denney NeVille of Byron, Mike Beeman of Cheyenne, Jerry Palen of Saratoga, Robin Laws of Cheyenne, Carol Swinney of Casper, Gale Jones Sundell of Cheyenne and Ann Hanson of Shell.

View pieces

Though the art will be sold on July 18, all sold and unsold pieces remain on display throughout the entirety of CFD.

“The Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show and Sale is one of the most respected and prestigious western art exhibitions in the Rocky Mountain Region,” said Jim Hearne, chairman of the Western Art Show and Sale Committee. “There isn’t a better place to see how the everyday life of the cowboy, the lives of Native Americans and the great American West and its wildlife make an impression on these outstanding artists.” 

Hearne notes that visiting CFD isn’t complete without visiting the museum to experience both the exhibits and works of art on display.

On top of producing the CFD Western Art Show and Sale, the committee also produces a commemorative poster and limited edition print from the previous year’s show. Only 500 copies of the print are produced. 

This year’s limited edition print is “High Country Oasis” by Powell artist Laurie Lee. The commemorative poster features Steven Lang’s “Out of the Gate.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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