Wood sculptor William Churchill, Jr. won the Festival Choice Award for his Native American sculpture titled “Tribal Historian.” He also received the silver award in sculpture for another Native American piece, “Lone Feather.” Churchill, Jr. was one of more than 30 artists at the 30th Annual National Western Art Exhibition and Sale held April 28- 30 at the San Dimas Civic Center Plaza. The event featured artist auctions, demonstrations and seminars.
Cowboy hats, boots and jeans comprised the attire worn by attendees at the 30th Annual Festival of Arts National Western Art Exhibition and Sale held on April 28, 29 and 30 in the San Dimas Civic Center.
More than 30 participating artists from different states showcased and sold their works of art. The event had something for everyone including oil and watercolor paintings, photography and sculptures. Activities for children were also offered.
“The event schedule is basically the same as the previous year’s,” said Judi Smith, executive secretary of the festival. “On our premier opening night, we have a reception dinner before the gallery doors open and then we begin the art sales, which allow people to buy the art.”
The schedule included a gallery with artists’ works and featured David Lemon, this year’s special exhibiting artist, a trading post that offered art pieces for sale, a Cowboy Poet, a blacksmith demonstrating his craft, booths selling jewelry, frames and photography, a student art exhibit, a wood carving demonstration, auction and an artist quick draw.
During the wood carving demonstration held in the sculpture garden, an artist transformed a piece of wood into a beautiful Native American Sculpture.
“I’m doing what I enjoy,” Artist William Churchill Jr. said. “That’s what it all boils down to. I just hope those attending enjoy it too.”
The artist quick draw contest was the most impressive. More than five artists had 45 minutes to complete a piece of art in the medium of their choice. There was a sketch artist, who drew a realistic portrait from a model, a woman who drew a horse from a picture and a man who sculpted with clay. Each of these pieces was for sale as well.
In the gallery, delicately crafted art pieces were displayed. Many of the pieces were nominated for the artist awards held on April 29.
“It is the most fun art event to have an opportunity to be involved with,” said Brenda Swenson, exhibiting artist. “You interact with everyone including other artists. People get to ask you questions about your artwork. Every year that I come back it’s like a reunion; all the artists look forward to seeing each other.”
The authentic appearance of the artwork was creative and interesting.
“When I do a piece of art I try to tell a little story,” said Joe Eggert, a western artist. “I do research and try my best to keep that period of time in my pieces.”
The student art exhibit provided an opportunity for high school students to showcase their talents for the community. Nancy Diaz, a senior at Bonita High School, earned first place for her piece “Mi Abuelito.” The “Most Promising Future Student Artist” award was given to Sierra Pelot, a Bonita High School senior.
The Kid’s Corner provided an opportunity to pan for gold; they also made their own art using paints and stencils.
John Walgren started the San Dimas Festival of Western Arts Exhibition 30 years ago. Approximately 300 volunteers and the support of the city of San Dimas put it together. Their mission statement is to “enrich life in the com?munity through enjoyment and appreciation of the fine and applied arts.”
Unity and community are the themes that fueled the festival and helped make it a successful event each year.
“The people that put on the show are pro arts and friendly,” Eggert said. “Other shows wouldn’t treat the artists like this. With them, it gets real personal.”
Many of those in attendance were returning spectators and participants, but there were many new to the event.
“This is my first year attending,” said Jane Mishak, an attendee and Redlands resident. “Artists are friendly and you can ask them questions. You can also pick up a lot of good art at these auctions.”
Another attendee agreed with her.
“It’s wonderful,” said Jean Keiffer, an attendee and Sun City resident. “It’s all so good. I can’t decide what the best part of the festival is.”
The event was a success and those in attendance no doubt had a great time.
“I’ve been with this art exhibit for two years,” Churchill said. “This is one of the best art events I have attended. It shows community, it brings out civic personalities and volunteers. It shows what community is all about.”
Jaclyn Gonzales can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.